Tried and Tasted: This monsoon, try the best pakoras you’ll ever find in Delhi
Khandani Pakode Wale at the crossing of Sarojini Nagar and Ring Road serves up the best pakora’s you’ll ever eat in Delhi.tried and tasted Updated: Aug 01, 2017 15:12 IST
A revolution knocks on the door – and it comes with a fork and knife. The world of food is more exciting than ever before. New restaurants are coming up offering novel cuisines or digging out old ones. Chefs are looking at unusual ingredients and dramatic ways of presenting food. Meanwhile, some wizened old experts continue to wield magic with their skewers and ladles in remote parts of the city. There is a world waiting to be discovered or re-embraced– new cooking styles, world food, sub-regional cuisine and tiny holes in the wall which produce the most delightful dishes. Here’s a guided tour.
I am not sure if any human behaviour experts have studied the relationship between rain and pakoras. There’s a pattern there, for in the season of heavy showers, Indians across the world start yearning for pakoras. We are not sure why we do so, but we all recognise it as an undisputed fact.
I have my own two bits to offer as an explanation. The rain spells the end of a gruelling summer. And as the parched earth soaks up the water, we celebrate the eventual advent of autumn with hot pakoras. The rainy season is actually rather humid and warm, but we mark the rain with a dish that’s fried and has to be eaten hot.
There is nothing to beat fresh pakoras fried at home, but there is a shop in south Delhi which has been selling the most delicious pakoras --- and of various kinds – for the last many decades. It’s called Khandani Pakode Wale and it’s at the crossing of Sarojini Nagar and Ring Road.
For four generations, the family has been selling pakoras. Earlier they did so from a little stall, but they moved into a permanent structure in 1962. Now the place is run by Vijay Kumar and Prateek Dhingra.
You can’t miss it, because there is always a huge crowd in front of it. You can stand there and eat your pakoras, or pack some to take home. There is a wide variety to choose from -- eggplant, cauliflower, spinach and green chillies. And, of course, there is always the much sought after paneer pakora.
Their seekh pakora is interesting – for it’s a pakora made out of mashed, boiled and spiced potatoes. The onion pakoras are special, too. A four-way deep slit is made in a whole onion, which is then stuffed with some masalas and then batter fried.
After quite a while I had my favourite arbi pataur or colocasia leaf pakoras. It’s crunchy with a mildly bitter taste. The pakora makers have now stated a green banana pakora, too.
The batter is a mix of besan and water, flavoured with red chilli powder, yellow chillies and carom seeds. The pakoras are served with a special kind of chutney prepared with mint leaves, onion, spinach and tamarind.
There is a battery of men all working on the pakoras. Behind the main shop are the units where the ingredients are readied and then fried in kadhais. The pakoras are brought to the shop, and when you have placed your order, they are dipped once again in hot oil, and then served.
I would say Khandani is the most popular pakora shop in the city, though I must say I also had memorable paneer pakoras at Malik Sweets in Hanuman Road once upon a time. What I like in particular about Khandani is that it serves baingan pakora, which is much loved in Bengal, but not easily found in Delhi.
I make sure the baingan pakoras are in the mix that I bring home when dark clouds promise rain. And then, with a nice cup of Darjeeling tea, I have my pakoras, as the rain pelts down. Bliss!
Recipe: Baingan Pakora
* 2 small eggplants
* 1 cup besan
* 2tbsp finely chopped green coriander leaves
* 2 finely chopped green chillies
* 1tsp ginger paste
* ½ tsp coriander powder
* Salt according to taste
* A pinch of red chilli powder
* Water for the paste (roughly half a cup)
* Oil for frying
Gradually mix the water in the besan. Mix well so that there are no lumps. Whisk it for five minutes or so, Add the masalas, coriander leaves, ginger, chillies and salt. Cut and discard the stem of the eggplant. Now cut it into roundels about half an inch thick (or thinner, if you like it really crisp). Now dip them in the batter, and deep fry them. Put them on a kitchen towel and let it soak up the oil. Now serve with green chutney.
(Rahul Verma has been writing on food for over 25 years now. And, after all these years, he has come to the conclusion that the more he writes, the more there is left to be written)
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