Friday, September 18, 2015

Phaagil Ghoint Phodi - Spicy Kantola and Parval Fritters

As more and more kitchen gadgets flooded the market, life has become easy for modern cooks and home makers. My memory rewinds to the Sixties, when my mother was making everything the traditional way, manually. She used to manually powder masala ingredients in the mortar of the grinding stone using an iron pestle called balayi in Konkani. She used to manually pound sweet/savoury coconut chutney for phova in the wooden mortar with a black stone. She used to make gojju and bajji using similar method. She also used to grind masalas for curry, batter for dosa and idli and red chillies for pickles and spicy chilli masala fritters that we call Phodi.

Chilli paste otherwise called in Konkani as 'Mirsaange Gooli' ground with the grinding stone manually, adding calculated amount of rock salt, tamarind and asafotoeda made the fritters taste too good. Old timers also soak rice and grind along with spices to make perfect marinade for fritters that coats and binds them properly, remains crisp and intact even after getting cooled down! Now a days you may find mostly caterers making fritters like these with various vegetables for feasts. 

When one of our neighbours in Ballal Bagh got their first mixer grinder by name Ricoh, I was stunned to see its uses, and I also told mother about it. She could not lay her hands on one, as my father was not in favour of such electric gadgets those days. He said, it is very flimsy, meant for making only fruit juices, may breakdown easily if she tried to grind masalas in it. However, in 1970 soon after my eldest brother Shashikanth married and settling down in Bombay, he bought a Sumeet Mixer Grinder. He had all praises for it, but my father still would not agree with him then! In 1972 , a metal fabricator in Bunder by name Sundar Gatti was making electric grinders fitted with granite grinding stone. My father got first hand feed back from my uncle Kudpi Vishwanath R Shenoy, proprietor of Om Mahal, and booked one. After a month or so, we got the first electric grinder for home, which also had a coconut scraper attachment and a tray at the top! So, my mother's job became easier while making dosas, idlis, curries , pickles and of course the mirsaange gooli' for making phodis.

In recent years, we have been adapting an easy method of mixing red chilli powder with asafotoeda and tamarind extract to prepare the marinade, roll the marinated vegetable slices in rice flour and deep fry them. Fritters made that way get soggy soon, lot of droppings fall into the oil while fryingm, making it get denatured fast and even taste is not as good as when you use freshly ground marinade. After I developed interest for traditional cooking, I have been always wanting to make phodis the traditional way. Yesterday I got an opportunity, when I made Phaagila(kantola) Phodi and Ghointa(Parval) Phodi for ganesha festival.

This is very easy to make, but you need some patience to get the right formula. Raw dosa rice is soaked in water for 2-3 hours, calculated amount of chillies, tamarind and salt are ground to a fairly smooth paste with it and that paste is applied to sliced Kantola or Parval, they are marinated for just 10-15 minutes and then deep fried in temperature controlled hot oil. I prefer to add a pinch of turmeric powder to the batter to make it more aromatic. Other veggies like cauliflower, potato, sweet potato, baby corn and rfaw plantain also can be used to make phodis this way. These phodis are spicy ones, compared the rather bland chickpea flour based bhajia, bajji or bajo. This batter can also be used for making awesome naked fried fish, prawns, squid, Mussels or similar seafood.

Phaagila(Kantola/Made Haagalakaayi or Teasel Gourd) - 4
Ghointa(Parval) - 4
Raw Dosa Rice - 1/4 Cup
Red Short Chillies(Ramnadu) - 2-3
Red Long Chillies(Byadgi) - 3-4
Tamarind - A tiny pinch, or 1/2 tsp tamarind extract
Asafotoeda - A tiny pinch, or 1/2 Tsp asafoetida powder
Turmeric Powder - 1/8 tsp
Sea Salt - 1/3 Tsp or table salt 1/4 Tsp
Oil - About 250 ml For deep frying
Wash, trim the ends and slice kantola and parval lengthwise, about 1/2 cm thick.
Wash and soak rice in water at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
Drain and grind along with chillies, tamarind, turmeric powder, salt and asafotoeda adding 1/4 cup water to a rather thick dosa batter consistency, but it should feel slightly coarse when you rub little paste on your finger tips.
Heat oil in a deep frying pan and allow it to start fuming, then reduce the flame to medium or sim.
Dip the sliced veggies one by one, apply the batter to cover and coat them as thinly as possible and drop 4-5 at a time in hot oil.
Allow to fry on one side for 2-3 minutes, flip them over and fry further for 2 minutes, or until they cease to release bubbles and become crisp.
Drain and serve hot with rice and daalithove or rasam.
Preferably fry all the kantola phodis first and then the parval phodis, since they both have different level of water content within.
A friend of mine Venugopal Prabhu from Vadodara suggests that you peel off the skin of parval, slice it and then marinate it if you don't want it to curl up while frying.

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