Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ragda Pattice and Living in Bombay

I think college days are the most fun days for most people. Everyone looks back on their college days with such nostalgia. Everything was so perfect back then and all one needed to worry about was having fun and the next entertainment plans on the horizon. Movies, partying, eating out, meeting boys!!!! The list goes on. I had the good fortune to go to college even for my intermediate which I am not sure many kids do these days. Now it is still school till the 12th and only then college after that.
I went to college in Bombay and for me that was a real experience. I was brought up in a very small township where Vizag was the "big city" for us. So you can just about imagine my excitement on knowing that I was going to Big Bad Bombay for my education and the icing on the cake was that I was going to be in the hostel. I am quite sure that my mom was not very happy about this but dad was quite insistent and I am really glad he did insist. It was a wondeful wonderful time and I grew up in those few years there. I learnt to cope on my own and do things for myself. Homesickness was my constant companion then and it took quite a while before I could shake off that feeling.

But living in Bombay has its compensations. I have to say here that one of the best parts of staying in Bombay was the eating out. Like most students, I did not have a whole lot of money and was always on a tight, really tight budget. But I really savoured every moment of my stay in Bombay. Outside the college gate was this sandwich wallah who would make the most amazing chutney and cucumber sandwiches. Little further down the road was the bhelpuri guy who knew exactly how I liked my bhelpuri . Though I cannot imagine eating off the streets like that now, those days I had absolutely no inhibitions what with having been blessed with a cast iron tummy. On Warden Road there was the Right Place which served up amazing grilled sandwiches just loaded with butter and cheese ( I am just back from a trip to Bombay and made it a point to go to the Right Place. I am glad to report that the taste of the sandwiches is still as yummy as ever and they are still as affordable at Rs.50/-). The Frankies at Scandal Point were all of Rs.5. There was this dosa guy who served delicious crispy dosas for Rs.2 and a dollop of amul butter added to it would increase the cost to only Rs.3. It was unbelievable.

But the single dish that I enjoyed eating was the ragda pattice. I had never tasted it before coming to Bombay. This nicely fried crisp aloo tikki was covered with the white peas masala and all the different chutneys were added on top. Topped with finely chopped onions and sev, IMHO it was food for the gods. delicious to the last bite. It was something that I love to date. But for some reason I always thought it chick peas that were used to make the ragda. Only later I realised that it was white peas that were the main ingredient in the ragda gravy.

In one of Tarla Dalal's books I got the exact recipe which I am giving here.

The recipe for the aloo tikkis is here. The one difference is that you can stuff the centre of the tikki with about half a teaspoon of green chutney to add more flavour.

For the Ragda:

1 Cup white peas soaked overnight
2 boiled potatoes diced finely
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
2 teaspoons greenchilli and ginger paste
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons jaggery grated
1 tablespoon of tamarind juice
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
6 curry leaves
a pinch of asafoetida (hing)
2 tablespoons of oil

To serve

1/2 cup green chutney (Recipe here)
1/2 cup sweet chutney ( Recipe here)
1 cup nylon sev
1 cup onions diced finely

Make the tikkis as mentioned in an earlier post here.

For the Ragda:

Boil the soaked peas with 3 times the water till soft.
Heat oil and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, and asafoetida.
Add all the other ingredients when the mustard seeds start to crackle.
Add more water if required to get a gravyish consistency.
Mash the peas a bit.
Keep aside.

To serve:

Place two tikkis on a plate and pour the ragda over it.
Top with chutneys and 2 tablespoons each of the onions and sev.
Serve hot.


Sweet Date Chutney

Sweet date chutney aka Saunth chutney again is an integral part of each and every chaat preparation. It is also used as a topping on Dahi wada. It adds a tangy sweet taste to whichever dish it is added to.

2 cups dates
1/4 cup tamarind soaked in water
1 cup jaggery
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
a pinch of asafoetida
salt to taste
a pinch dried ginger powder
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin) roasted and coarsely powdered

Wash the dates and tamarind. Drain.
Cook along with the other ingredients and 4 cups of water simmering for about 1/2 an hour.
Cool and strain through a sieve.
Use as required and this freezes well too.


Green Coriander Chutney

This chutney is one of the most versatile chutneys that one can find. It can be used in many ways and is the best accompaniment for paneer tikkas, samosas, kababs and other fried food. It is also great in using to make chutney sandwiches.

2 bunches coriander leaves ( as this usually is a very variable amount, the washed and chopped leaves should amount to 2 cups)
1 large onion
2-3 green chillies
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)
1 inch piece of ginger
salt to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon of lime juice

Grind all the ingredients together with a little bit of water. Best served fresh but freezes very well.