Kachori, a shining star of Indian street food.
Street food has always enjoyed a special place in Indian food constellation. Samosa and Kachori are two bright shining stars of this constellation. Samosa is believed to be originated in Middle East and was brought to India by the travellers and invaders. The outer shell remains the same but the samosa filling varies with the demographic and also depends on the local available ingredients, But the samosa has to be always in its peculiar triangular shape. Kachori on the other hand is easier to prepare with a simple circular disk shape. A samosa becomes a kachori if it changes its shape. Two Indian states which can be accredited for its origin are Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Kachori is one of the delicious street foods that has always retained its status and have always been undisputed leader in the street food brigade. All the street food vendors and stalls originated and flourished around the Bazaars where traders needed to eat and drink while dealing with their business. That's the reason all the famous street food stalls are near or in the crowded trade markets in India. Marwari, a vegetarian trading community of people, has to be credited to popularise the kachori. Ancient trade routes always passed through markets and Marwaris have always had access to the best produce passing through their region. Marwaris being vegetarian knew very well about how to spice up their food and make it exotic with the use of aromatic spices. One of the best examples of Marwari cooking excellence is the Jodhpur kachori that does not use any fresh produce and can be made in dessert in any time of the year. It is prepared with moong dal filling and spiced with local spices. The outer pastry is always maida and it is kneaded in such a way that it becomes flaky when deep fried on low heat for almost 30 minutes. A Delhi version of this street food delicacy is served in Connaught place near Regal Cinema and I always make sure to visit it whenever I travel back to my home town Delhi. There are numerous versions of kachori and are unique in their own way. While I was working at Udaipur I came across "Pyaaz Kachori which translates as " onion kachori which was bigger than a palm and was served with a tangy tamarind sauce. Jodhpur boasts of another version which is sweeter and is ideal to be carried along long journeys. Onion kachori is an all year round variety which has a long shelf life and is easy to prepare. Hing kachori is another variant cooked with plenty of the granary gum and is served along a spicy potato curry. The urad lentil kachori adapted itself to the local taste and formed a bedmi poori which is a whole wheat dough dish filled with urad dal lentil and is common in Rajasthan. While the Kachori can be made at home, they are more of a market place snack as the preparation required is more. Benarasi kachori is another whole wheat flour version and is so flavourful that it does not require the accompanying curry. Bengal's mattar kachori is from the eastern part of India. Bihar's litti kachori has the stuffing of sattu is another favourite from the Bihar state. Lilva kachori gets its name from tender pigeon peas or lilvc, which hits the market for a short period in winter. Lilwa version is a perfect sweet and salty version with earthy flavours. A write-up on kachori is incomplete with few lines on Raj kachori which translates as Royal Kachori. It is a puffed up big sized kachori. It looks like a giant "gol gappa". It houses an array of chaat ingredients like yoghurt, savoury mix, tamarind sauce mint sauce, pomegranate seeds and more. Raj kachori originated in Bikaner city in Rajasthan and is a street food delicacy found across the length and breadth of the subcontinent. Pyaaz Kachori Ingredients For the dough All purpose flour 2 cups Oil 4 tbsp Salt to taste For the stuffing Red onion, chopped 4 no Potato, peeled and boiled 2 no Oil 2 tbsp Caraway seeds 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp Asafoetida a pinch Coriander seeds, crushed 1 tsp Salt to taste Chickpea flour 2 tbsp Dried mango powder 2 tsp Garlic, crushed 1 tbsp Ginger, chopped 1 tsp Green chili, chopped 2 nos Red chili powder 1 tsp Garam masala 1/2 tsp Sugar 1 tsp Onion, chopped 1 nos For frying Oil to deep fry Method For the dough Combine all the ingredients in a deep bowl and knead into a stiff dough using enough water. Keep aside covered with a damp cloth for 15-20 minutes. For the filing, heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy bottom pan and add caraway seeds, and asafoetida and crushed coriander seeds. Saut and add chopped onions, salt and continue to sauce. When onions are lightly browned add garlic, ginger, green chili nd red chili powder and sauce for a minute. Add crushed boiled potato and mix well, crush the potato with ladle. Remove from heat and add some chopped onion and mix well, keep aside. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, and roll into ball. Flatten each ball into a 2 1/2 diameter disk. Place 2-3 tbsp of the prepared filling in the centre. Old the dough to cover the filling and press gently to flatten the dough. Keep the sides thin as compared to the centre, prick with a fork and deep fry over medium heat in a heavy bottom pan. Turn to fry from the other side till the kachori is golden brown. Place on a kitchen paper towel to soak up excess fat. Serve hot with mint and tamarind chutney. * Chef Tarun Kapoor, Culinary Mastermind, USA. He may be contacted at [email protected]
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