Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hot and spicy stuff!

Despite it officially being the fall season now, i have shamelessly decided that i'll be posting some summertime vegetable recipes in the coming few days! But before i do that, i want to placate the audience by sharing something season appropriate ;). As if i haven't bragged enough about it to everyone around me, i'll say it again: It rained here last night, after a long time! And i enjoyed it quite a bit :). So i thought, may be i should share some hot and spicy stuff! Stuff that goes well with the mood of the season: like hot pakodas and bajjis and some spicy pasta!

How could i not be frying some pakodas! Few days back, my dear friend Ms. Wisdom, who's currently visiting home in Hyderabad, chirped that it was raining there. Before i could say it, she had already typed it clear "and that makes it perfect weather for chai and pakodas, why don't you post some" :-D. Such a loving suggestion, no reason not to fry some! Thus the pakodas! But where does this pasta thing come from? Answer lies in another evening, when moi was looking for some hot comfort food, preferrably spicy :-D. So here they are: the pakodas n' bajjis platter and the hot n' spicy pasta!

Pakodas and bajjis:

Hmm, even though in Punjabi the term "pakoda" refers to both these goodies, they are actually different! While pakodas imply fried stuff made from besan mixed with chopped veggies, bajjis indicate vegetable pieces dipped in besan batter and fried. Pakodas are crispier, crunchier and bajjis on the softer side. But to a Punju, they are all pakodas, they get specified by prefixes like khasta te karare (crispy/crumbly and spicy hot) vs. naram/polle (soft). Whatever the name may be, this dish is a favorite all over India, in its myriad varities. I am sharing one the multiple kinds of pakodas we enjoy !

Clockwise: Palak, mirchi and gobhi pakodas and bajjis

There is this signature Punju style batter which is spiced with anardana (pomegranate seeds), ajwain (carum), dhania (coriander), jeera (cumin) and yes, hing, a must for palak pakodas! The bajjis don't use hing, nor do onion pakodas. Onion pakodas are made out of either sliced onions alone, or along with chopped potatoes. There exist onion bajjis too! A cpl. of really famous shops in Hall Bazaar, Amritsar, make whole onion bajjis out of small red onions. Potato and eggplant bajjis are made from sliced potatoes and eggplants. Sometimes poeple make bajjis from whole baby potatoes too. Then there are methi pakodas and the paneer pakodas (err, techincally bajjis!). Paneer pakodas deserve a separate post, because there are many ways to make them! So i'll post them along with onion pakodas sometime soon. Often these pakoda shops in Punjab sell an aloo-bonda kind of stuff too, with a potato filling dressed up with red chillies, ginger and garlic. Punjabis traditionally use mustard oil, but that tradition is fast fading! I stick to it though! It gives a certain flavor to the pakodas. Today's platter here has two kinds of bajjis: Gobhi and Anaheim pepper and the palak/spinach pakodas. So here goes:

For basic batter, we need:

  • 1 cup besan (gram flour)
  • Salt to taste
  • Red chilli powder (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp each ajwain (carum), jeera (cumin) and dhania (coriander) seeds,
  • 1 tsp. anardana (pomegranate seeds)
  • a pinch of baking soda (optional)
  • a pinch of strong hing (must for palak pakodas)
  • Oil for deep frying

Heat mustard oil in a kadahi/deep pan to smoking point. Cool it down for 2-3 minutes and keep it for heating again (medium heat). This would be the right temperature for deep frying. As the oil heats, prepare the batter.Add the salt, chilli powder to the besan and sift the besan through a sieve or remove all the lumps with hand. Add the spices and anardana. Slowly mix water and prepare a thick paste like batter, by beating it vigorously with a spoon after you add a lil' warm water. Mix well, add more water and repeat. The paste should not be too thick, nor should it be runny. The end result should be a fluffy batter (well aerated). You might like to you use baking soda to aid this process. However, its not necessary, if you really beat the mixture well. For making bajjis, chop the vegetables into big chunks (I cut the Anaheim pepper into 3-4 pieces each), dip each piece into the batter, coat it throughly and deep fry. For making pakodas, add the finely chopped vegetables like palak or methi, or sliced onions to the batter and mix well with your hand. Take lil' portions and deep fry. The pakodas should come out light brown and crisp, the bajjis should be a bit softer. Enjoy the pakodas with your favorite chutney or sauce.

Spicy hot pasta:

I used whole wheat spaghetti for this and dressed it up with a home-made pasta sauce made from tomatoes and rosemary, and added some vegetables like spring onions, corn, beans, peas and carrots to make a one-pot comfort meal! The final (blasphemous) touch was some chopped green chillies ;). So here it is:

We need:

  • 1 packet whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 big, ripe tomato, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 sprig rosemary/1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 cup chopped mixed vegetables
  • 1 bunch spring onions (chopped)
  • 1-2 green chillies (chopped)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

Prepare the pasta: In a big pot, boil water with 1 tsp. salt . Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and add a drizzle of olive oil. Cook the pasta al dente (easy enough to chew, yet firm). Use a colander to drain the water. Its now ready to go.

Prepare the sauce: As the water boils and the pasta cooks, we prepare the sauce. In a pan, heat 1 tsp. olive oil and saute' the crushed garlic, add the chopped tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes till tender, add a lil' water and make a nice paste. Add half of the rosemary leaves. The sauce is ready. In another pan, heat remaining oil and saute' spring onions, add the chopped vegetable and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add salt to taste, the remaining rosemary leaves and green chillies if you want. Mix with the sauce. By this time, the pasta is ready too. Add the sauce with vegetables to the pasta and enjoy a spicy hot meal :).

Here is to the spirit of friendship, my friends!
P.S: The Mangalore bajjis and Kara baath are showing up soon :).


Asha said...

Spicy Pasta and Khara bisi bisi bajji and Pakaodas, patryyy tiiime there Musie!!Looks mouthwatering;D
Must be perfect snack for that weather too.We have the first day Fall here today, but it's 88F and hot, muggy.No sign rain at all!
Well...enjoy.I made Masale Thatte dose and chutney for dinner today!:))
Looking forward Khara bhath!!

Nupur said...

You are torturing me with these fried goodies :D everything looks too delicious...and thanks for sharing the authentic Punjabi pakoda batter secrets!

musical said...


Thanks a lot :). Yup! hot in every aspect! It was cold here. But i think while indoors, you can enjoy some too, right. This is for you, dear :). Here too, this is the first rain in the entire year so far! Some respite for the parched Earth! I want some masale thatte dose, though.....please send me some! Even the thought is making me hungry!


This is for you to enjoy, dear :). Thank you so much :).

bee said...

do you do mail orders?

TBC said...

Pakoda platter looks very tempting.I usually don't care much about seasons while making/eating food.I eat anything anytime!:-)
Nice pasta too.:)

musical said...


Anything for you, sweetie :).


Thanks, dear :). Usually i don't care much either, but stuff with besan and that too deep fried stuff: its really "garam" in its essence. But sometimes its nice to eat it in peak summers too ;).

Vcuisine said...

Musical, whether it rains or not we do prepare these goodies. In Kuwait it hardly rains. So, this is our all time snack only. Lovely plate of pakodas and the Spaghetti looks inviting. Viji

Manisha said...

Whole wheat spaghetti is delicious, isn't it? I love it. What I love most about it is that it fills me up really quickly! :-D

Your pakodas are tempting me to go back into the frying mode that Anita unleashed upon us last month! It is cooling off nicely so maybe soon! My anardana seeds are quite old so maybe this will be a great reason to go get a new packet!

Happy Fall!

Nags said...

lovely new template! i also love the pasta recipe.. shud try it one of these days..

Pelicano said...

You know what? I was going to make cabbage pakodas today, but ran short of time...and I come here and you have three different fried goodies. I feel less guilty now! :-)

No need to feel blasphemous about the green chiles in the pasta dish- those Italians eat and add their share to dishes too! ;-) Looks marvelous and simple- very good for us who usually cook for just ourselves! :-)

musical said...


You are so right, its an all season thing :). But usually i am lazy to deep fry, so its on occassions like this that i especially crave fried food :).


Whole wheat pasta are the best indeed! He he, so i am inducing cravings for fried food :). Thats good, isn't it. Occassional indulgence keeps on happy :-D. Happy fall season to you too :).


Thanks a lot, dear :). Spicy pasta is always good :). Hope you like it .

musical said...


I had some purple cabbage in my fridge (i still have it) and thought to fry some Maharashtrian style cabbage pakodas with besan and rava. But then i needed some vegetables too, so ruled out that option. Ah, the italians might add green chillies, but not at the proportions that i use (and probably not our desi small chillies) :-D. Yes, such stuff is good for i, me, myself :).

Suganya said...

Palak pakora is new to me. I can take these summer recipes in fall too :)

Saju said...

the pakora / bhaji(a) look so yum! I have never heard of pomegranite seeds in bhajia - I can't wait to try.
Spicy pasta looks too good!

musical said...


This is fall special, baby :). Summer time stuff will be posted soon (hopefully)! take your pick. i recommend the palak pakodas, always yummy :).


Thanks :). Anardana is quite popular with Punjus. Spicy pasta tastes quite good, try it!

Cinnamon said...

The Pakodas look delicious!! and the Pasta is so inviting!! Yummy!!!!

Srivalli said...

that plate looks very inviting...

Shweta said...

Ms. Musical! It finally rained here yesterday!! And all we could think of were pakoras! Didn't make them though... now these pics are troubling me :D Great recipe! My mami treated us to ekdum punju style palak pakoras when we visited them in Canada. I have to make them now!!

Happy cook said...

Love pakodas can eat them in heaps

musical said...


Thanks, dear :). Am glad you like them :).


Thank you, sweetie :). Please have some :).


Great! So the pakodas were right on time, eh :). Enjoy!

Happy Cook:

Thats a universal law :-D.

Shweta said...

I just added a link to your blog from mine, hope that is okay :)

sra said...

Musical, it's news to me that you call them bajjis in Punjabi. Or am I mistaken? I thought that was a South Indian term.

musical said...


An honor for me, sweetie :). Thanks a lot :).


Bajjis are a term used in the South. Punjabis, as i said, call them both "bajjis and pakodas" as pakodas. But the there's a technical difference between the two, as i described above. Bajjis are batter fried big chunks of vegetables, and pakodas are chopped veggies mixed in the batter and fried, in many parts of India. However, in Punjabi, both these kinds of fried goodies are known as pakodas. But for the convenience of my friends, i decided to use these two distinctive terms for the two styles of fried goodies.

Rachna said...

hi musy....i drooled over them while having my chai.... i add a pinch of soda bi-carb to my mixture for the crispyness.... i prefer all my pakodas to be kurkure!! my hubby loves any kind of pakoda.......its amazing what anardana can do to the pakoda batter.... totally multani :)....paneer pakoda... yey...yes do a full post on it.... they are in a league of their own.... and mail these to africa toooo.... plz

Raaga said...

now I know where that lesson on my blog was coming from... the scientist and her research :-)

sra said...

Musical, thanks for repeating the explanation - I somehow thought those from the North would automatically call bajjis bhajiyas or something like that, and it threw me when you referred to them as bajjis, but I guess I hadn't factored in that you 'belong' to Bangalore, as you said in one of your posts a few days ago!

Sandeepa said...

Ekbar barish kya bus shuru :D

I loved your Punju way of flavoring the batter, next time going to do it, where do you get "anar dana" ?

BTW wanted to ask you, do you remmeber the Chinese restaurant in B'lore, which was a flight down from the pavement ? I cannot remmeber the name.

Mainland China, I went only once but this one, we used to go often and during the fag end of 90's it was a good Chinese place in B'lore. Can you say the name, if you remmeber ?

musical said...


Haanji, you like pakodas too, great! Anardana is indeed a speciality of Punjabis from Western parts.....and i agree, paneer pakodas are special :).


He he, you are cute :).

musical said...


Yes, you are so right about belonging to Bangalore :).


Pakode khane ka bahana chahiye, aur kya :-D. There were two restaurants, flight down from the pavement. One was Chung-Wah, next to Symphony, in the alley right behind Corner-House (i mentioned that i my comment on your post) and was hugely popular and the other one was across Corner House, next to Utkalika-it was called The Continental. Chung Wah to Savoy Nagarjuna wali lane mein hi tha!

Sig said...

Musie girl... somehow I missed this post....
Everyone is deep frying these days... me likey... :D
Rain or shine, I can always have spicy fried food... I'm not into weather appropriate eating :) BTW pom seeds? I had no idea these were used in cooking!!!

Richa said...

wah! pakode galore, will take them anytime.
i don't let season dictate when i should hv them he!he!
gobi & pyaaz pakoda, YUMMMM :)

Jeena said...

Fantastic spicy recipes I love your pakodas and bhajis. :)

Sharmi said...

all the three pakodas are my favorite. I also make aloo, eggplant and onions. all taste great with a cuppa tea:)) we both make a great company

musical said...


Yeah, talking about fried food, just had some falafel for lunch :-D. When someone fries it for you, its fine. But when i have to fry it for myself, there is usually an energy barrier and excuses like "weather" are used :-D. Pomegranate seeds (dried) are quite popular in Punjabi cuisine.


Haanji, mainu pata si tuhanu taan pasand zaroor honge :). Pyaaz pakodas suprass everything :-D.

musical said...


Thank you, dear :).


Me too, i love eggplant pakodas/bajjis! and with chai, they are the best :).

Dee said...

Love the array of pakodas .. cant wait to take a bite!!!

musical said...


Thanks, dear :). Drop by any time :).

Sandeepa said...

I don't remmeber exactly but it must be Chung-wah that I am talking about then. Was there one called "Rice Bowl" ? Memory fails me as to what I had where, remmeber a certain lemon chicken and a egg's nest kind of a dsih

musical said...


Oh yes, Rice Bowl was another Chinese restaurant that i used to frequent a lot :). I remember they had lots of Cantonese fair too. Cool yaar, kya yaad dilaya :).

Nirmala said...

Always the things that are fried are so tasty. You've inspired cravings that won't be satisfied until I make my own!

musical said...


That is so true :). Enjoy the pakodas :).

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