Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ragda Patties - a bowl full of tastes

I had to squeeze in my Sankranthi Sweet Pongal recipe instead of continuing the chitchat about the chats. A little bit of bad planning on my part but no harm done. You guys liked my Sweet Pongal and we loved it at home. Ellu-bella went to conference rooms at work with some description about what the fantastic tasting mixture was and why exactly it was not a variation of one of the trail mixes :-).

Back to the unfinished chatting about chats (Ok, I promise to stop doing that), I really don't know how or when my love affair with these foods started. For someone that was not used to eat out much, these must surely have come later on .. But I have always enjoyed bold flavors and favor a lot of spicy hot, khatta(tangy) tastes over bland food. Akka makes fun of me that one of the reasons I fell in love with a Telugu guy is because of the spicy food Andhra is known for. But I completely lost out there as my inlaws having travelled out of AP most of their life and their cooking influenced by other regions, eat pretty mild flavored food at home. I have mellowed on my usage of spices (read fiery hot chilies) over the years giving in to my akka's threats and if i really feel like it, I splurge on one very bold dish once in a while and will be content with myself for some time to come after that.

Coming back to chats, it is not really just spicy, a bowl of chat put together well is a perfect combination of different tastes and makes you perk up immediately. The best thing about these chats is that they need not be unhealthy at all and most of them do not have a big component of deep fried ingredients in them. Chats are always best eaten fresh, all my memories of chat eating are standing by the road side cart, holding a plate in hand, teary eyed as a result of the heat (both temperature and spice) but still licking the plate clean. Me & akka used to go to a chat center in Hotel Maharaja (fancy name ha, it was one of the better hotels and had a chat center on the lawn outside open to all)in Mysore and then it was the favorite Eat out in Malleswaram, Shanthi Sagar or Gundappana Bakery in Bengaluru. A few years back when I was in Bengaluru, one of my friends introduced me to a gaadi bhaiya in front of her apartment complex, the neat thing was cell phones were just becoming 'every man's thing' and she would call him from the house on his cell and order an array of chats and he would ring the door bell within minutes with hot plates of chats for akka. What perfect service! She could see him put the chat plate together from her kitchen window and I think just for that reason he used to give the plates an extra dip in the water before making chats in them:-)
Honestly I never made chats at home when in India as there was absolutely no need to. We could just run around the corner and find a perfectly decent place in terms of hygiene and gobble up plates of chats from a selection of menu. But since moving to the US, this is something I miss terribly, the quality of chats I have tasted in the so called Indian restaurants here are at best 'lame excuses' to the real deal. Not one comes even close to my 'good bowl of chat' definition and I come back thoroughly disappointed most times. We have a chat place near our home here who puts bottled tomato ketchup in everything he makes and I have a good mind to tell him that none of the real masala puri or ragda patties have any ketchup from bottle in them and I might do it if we go back there ever again.  We went there once on a friend's recommendation when we moved but have stayed away from the store all these months.

Making chats at home is not difficult, it surely involves some longish steps but you can prepare ahead and even bedazzle your guests for a party. Chats are never 'one size fits all' and each plate has to be customized to the person eating it. I usually let my guests build their plate (much like 'build-a-bear') and I arrange all the ingredients on the table. If there are people that have never had a chat before, I assemble a plate for them and tell them which of the smaller bowls make it sweeter, spicier etc so they can modify their plate to taste. With that I have something called 'chat bowl essentials', these are the things the chat bhaiyya lays out on his working bench before he opens up the store to customers. There are some additions and changes based on what you are making and today's post has everything you need to assemble a mouthwatering plate of Ragda patties. For all my passion about cooking, I don't like to stand infront of the stove for hours, so trust me when I say this is not going to take too long.
Today I will use the chutneys I made earlier for my Ragda patties, Ragda (~gravy with beans & spices), patties (patties made with a mixture of boiled potatoes and other spices) is just that - patties served with a gravy and embellished with the addition of other 'chat bowl' ingredients. With a bowl full of cooked beans and potatoes it is a very filling and fulfilling meal in itself so plan for a good weekend treat and enjoy yourselves.
Although list of ingredients and process look tedious, do not be alarmed. There are prep steps you can get done and out of the way, just assemble the chat and enjoy the home made deliciousness.

What do you need to make Ragda Patties? 
Serves 4 people 
For Patties: 
4 medium sized potatoes
1 Tblsp finely chopped onions
2-3 stalks cilantro - chopped fine
1 green chili - finely chopped (optional)
small piece of ginger finely chopped (optional)
1/4 Tsp garam masala powder
1/4 Tsp Amchoor powder/Dry mango powder
1/4 Tsp Red chili powder
1/8 Tsp Turmeric powder
1.5 Tblsp coarse bread crumbs (you can get a ready tin from the store or make your own at home, see notes below)
3/4 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1-2 Tsp oil to shallow fry the patties

For Ragda:
1.5 cups dry yellow peas
1 medium onion (preferably red onions) - chopped fine
1 large tomato - chopped fine
2 green chilies - trimmed and slit vertically
1.5 Tsp garam masala powder
1 Tsp red chili powder
3/4 Tsp Amchoor powder
1/2 Tsp grated or crushed ginger
1/2 Tsp garlic paste (optional)
1 Tsp cumin seeds
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste) - divided use
1 Tblsp oil
Water for the gravy

Chat Bowl essentials: 
1/2 cup Tamarind-dates chutney
1/4 cup coriander-mint chutney
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1 Tsp red chili powder
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup sev (deep fried, thin, besan crispies - home made or store bought)

How do you make Ragda Patties? 
Making of the Patties:
  • Cut the potatoes in half and cook them either in pressure cooker or microwave or stove top(if you have time) until soft. 
  • Let cool, peel the skin and mash them to a pulp without any lumps. 
  • Add the remaining ingredients listed under patties and mix well. 
  • Pinch off handfuls and shape them into patties. 
  • These are good make-aheads, store them in the refrigerator upto 2 days in a tightly covered vessel. Even if you are making it the same day, keeping the patties aside for atleast 30mins to an hour will help them absorb flavors and also gain a firm texture. 
  • Heat a flat griddle, place the patties on it with an inch of space in between, drizzle drops of oil and roast until the patties turn golden brown on both sides, keep aside until ready to assemble. 
Making of the Ragda:
  • Soak the dry yellow peas overnight, wash and drain water. Take them to a pressure cooker with 1 Tsp salt and cook until the peas are cooked well but barely hold shape. 
  • Take a large, heavy bottom pan, heat oil in it and cumin seeds, let them sizzle. 
  • Add the slit green chilies, ginger and garlic paste and fry for a minute. 
  • Add the chopped onions, remaining salt and fry until onions sweat and turn soft. 
  • Add chopped tomatoes and continue cooking until tomatoes turn mushy. 
  • Add the dry powders and cook for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add the cooked peas, mash a little with the back of the spoon, add water to bring the ragda to the desired consistency - it should be of pouring consistency.
  • Taste and adjust spices if needed, let the ragda come to a boil and continue to boil for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Keep it hot for serving. 
Assembling and serving Ragda patties: 
  • Take a slightly deep, wide plate or bowl and place 2 patties on it.
  • Add chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro. 
  • Drizzle the chutneys, sprinkle a bit of red chili powder.
  • Pour the hot ragda over this.
  • Top it with some extra chopped onions and sev and cilantro. 
  • Go ahead and dig in slightly mixing the contents with a spoon to make sure every bite has all the rasas(tastes) in it.
  • My SIL taught me a trick to cook potatoes in microwave, wash and cut the potatoes in half, put them in a clear plastic bag (I use the bags we fill veggies in the grocery store but microwave sturdy zip locks/freezer bags can be used as well), sprinkle a couple of spoons of water and microwave it for 7-8 minutes or until potatoes are soft. It cooks much faster than stove top and with a nice texture and does't need a bowl to hold your potatoes either.
  • Patties ingredients can be altered to suit your taste, I sometimes add lemon juice instead of amchoor or skip garam masala completely. 
  • Peas should be cooked to the state where they are almost falling apart but not 'pasty'. 
  • Making bread crumbs at home - toast a couple of slices of wheat or white bread in in the toaster oven until crisp, pulse it in the mixer until they break down to a thick rava consistency.
Make-ahead strategies:
  • Make the patties the previous day or a couple of days before and freeze them, thaw them for a couple of hours on the day of serving and reheat them in a oven pre-heated to 350F for about 10 minutes. Alternatively you can reheat them on a hot griddle or in the microwave. Griddle and oven method makes the patties crisp while microwaving them tends to soften them. 
  • Make the Ragda previous day and refrigerate it. The peas in the ragda tends to make it thick, so be prepared to add water and thin it down. Taste to make sure everything is in order before serving. 


NamsVeni Pothas said...

very nice mouth watering Ragada Patties with beautiful color pictures. i love the chats. all your posts are very tasty and attractive photos. chats are any time any where we can enjoy.

Julie said...

looks very tempting,mouthwatering!!
Join EP event-Nutmeg OR Parsley @ Chef Mireille's Global Creations

Kumudha said...

So many delicious vegan recipes...

Thanks a ton for inspiring people to try vegetarian food.

Priya said...

Am sure am gonna dream about these ragada patties,i have completely forgotten to make them at home since a long,now you are killing me with them..

Love this patties to the core.

Kannada Cuisine said...

Thats yummy