Close to our home in Kolkata was the Ashoka cinema hall (or movie theatre as we call it now). Even though the hall was only 2 minutes away, we always reached there atleast half an hour in advance. It was not because we were so eager to watch the movie, but rather to pick up the gorgeous vegetable chops that boudi (street side vendor) made and sold right outside the theatre. She’d pack them up in bags made of old newspaper and sprinkle some rock salt on it. There had been times when we forgot to see the initial parts of the movie while gobbling down the chops.
Couple of days back we were at a Redmond movie theatre to watch Sherlock Holmes. We bought some butter popcorn and cold drinks. The discussion soon turned towards vegetable chops. I guess I disliked the movie more because of the missing vegetable chop and less because of the weird depiction of Mr.Holmes.
The remedy is obviously to make your own right here at your home.
- 2 medium sized beetroots grated
- 4 medium sized carrots grated
- 2 medium sized potatoes grated
- 2 green chilies chopped
- Half cup green peas
- 1/4th cup roasted peanuts chopped
- 1" ginger grated
- 1 tsp. paanch phoron
- 1 cup bread crumb
- 1/2 cup besan (Chickpea flour)
- 1 tbsp. bhaja masala. Make it by dry roasting and then grinding the following
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- 3,4 dry red chilies
- 3,4 pods of green cardamom
- 1" cinnamon stick
- 3,4 cloves
Heat about 2 tbsp. of oil in a pan and temper with paanch phoron and grated ginger. When the spices start sputtering add grated vegetables and green peas to it. Do note that some people add boiled, mashed vegetables. My experience shows that plain grated works better for easy binding and retains the texture.
Sprinkle salt according to your taste. Now sauté the grated vegetables on medium low heat till all the moistures released from the vegetables gets dried and the veggies come together leaving the sides of the pan. Taste the seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add the pea nuts and mix well.
When the mixture cools down slightly, sprinkle about 1 tbsp. of bhaja masala.
Now grease your palm and shape the vegetable mixture to the form of oblong balls. Cutlets on the other hand are made flat. Choose the way you like.
Sometimes you might face a problem with binding the vegetables. To fix that dry roast besan on medium low heat till its raw smell goes away, then add 1 or 2 tbsp. of it to the vegetable mixture.
Make a thin batter of besan and water. Dip each chop in the batter and roll them on breadcrumbs. Refrigerate them for an hour and then repeat the process of coating one more time.
Heat enough oil in a kadai for dip frying. Drop a small piece of bread crumb and ensure that the oil is hot enough that it starts sizzling. If you are satisfied, fry the chops till golden brown. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
Sprinkle some black salt and serve with ketchup, mustard sauce and onion rings.