This weekend, DC is buried under the second mega snowstorm of the season which, to understate the matter, is highly unusual. Typically we are overjoyed to get five or six inches of snow (if that) three or four times each winter. We take pictures of the dogs frolicking happily in the backyard, semi-grudgingly shovel the stairs and the walkway, and grumble about county plows that have cleared the snow from the roads and dumped it right in our driveway. And then, we move right back on with our lives.
Last night, the mood was perfect for a delicious treat Desi's been after me to make for some time: Ribbon Pakodas.
My niece, Shoba, who lived here in the United States for a few years, moved to India recently and she generously left behind for me her murukku press (or chakli press) which I can use to make all sorts of delicious treats.
The press is a mechanical contraption used, perhaps, for centuries by Indian women in their kitchens-- a simple device that looks like two brass cups with long, flat handles.The base of the larger cup is fitted with one of five or six different plates, each stamped with a hole of a different shape or size. To shape a treat, you place the dough into the bigger cup, place the smaller cup over it, and press together the handles to squeeze out the treats. Simple enough.
If not, this picture might clarify:
Keep in mind that the press is tough to operate: all that pressure-applying made my palms so sore that I had to rope Desi and his strong hands into the project.
Now here's the recipe. If you're here in our part of the Northeast and cooped up indoors, there can't be a more perfect treat to liven up your day. If not....heck, you don't need an excuse to make these!
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour (garbanzo flour or besan)
1/2 cup rice flour
2 tsp red chilli powder (use more or less per your taste-- this much is just enough to make delicious but not too-spicy pakodas)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl by hand until they are well integrated.
Add water a little at a time until the mixture comes together in a stiff dough.
Meanwhile, heat the oil for frying to a temperature of 375 degrees.
Press enough dough into the bottom cup of the murukku press fitted with the ribbon pakoda plate (it usually has two thin slits). Don't stuff all the way to the top-- leave about 1/2 cm or so of room so you can place the smaller cup above it comfortably.
Squeeze out the pakodas directly into the hot oil. I tend to make the ribbons around 4 inches long, but if you'd like to try your hand at making more fun designs, by all means do so. Be very careful, though and if you are not comfortable working over the hot oil, squeeze them out on a piece of wax paper and carefully transfer them to the oil.
Fry the pakodas until they are golden-brown but not too dark. They will fry up pretty fast so don't wander away. Allow the pakodas to drain on a paper towel, let them cool, and then enjoy.
Where has all the grass gone? Opie, who usually loves snow, has been finding out this winter that there is something like too much of a good thing.