May 21, 2014

Oh! the joys of entertaining ~ Ragda Pattice / Aloo tikki chaat~

In our frenzied and increasingly impersonal world of late work nights, busy schedules and conveniently located restaurants luring us with elaborate menus, who takes an effort to cook anything for a meal time - leave alone a party? And in all this chaos, the burgeoning restaurant scene seems to have found its ideal, loyal clientele - busy professionals with little patience and ample of money. Quite a mix! Ain’t it? As more and more people opt to go out for dinners abandoning the age old tradition of making their own meal, it sincerely makes me shudder to think as to what our next generation would learn. What traditions will we pass forward? Are we going to give rise to an unfortunate generation which has been deprived of the sensuous art of cooking? A generation that finds solace in restaurant bought food over home cooked meals? And I believe those are some very valid points to think about. 

Creating and enjoying a home cooked meal has always been my way of adding that personal touch to my otherwise mundane life or to a get together of friends and family. My very personal signature and something my very own. It adds in oodles of love and care to something we all value a lot – our daily meals and of course noteworthy ones like birthday meals!Speaking of birthdays, they have always been special to me growing up. They were the most joyous of days filled with the honor of being treated special for the entire day. The thrill of opening the packet of candies, crisp new dress and to coming home to an array of my favorite dishes...each and every event had a charm- a charm that has gradually slid away with age. These days it means more of an occasion of getting together with friends and family to celebrate the year gone by while welcoming the new one. 

With such distinctive, pleasant memories of our birthdays, M and I wanted to make our guests feel special by making them a home-cooked meal. Exactly in the same way I feel when someone cooks for me. It makes me wonder as to where the novelty of cooking as a means of celebration slid by? Seems such a rarity these days!

In all of this party planning to-do's, trust me when I say that thinking of a fun and exciting dish to make was the first and most difficult part. After going through scores and scores of recipes, ragda patties/pattice or Aloo tiki chaat was chosen just based on the fun, ease and its mass appeal factor. Famous in most parts of the country, this Indian street food has different names - Ragda pattice (Yes its been misspelled!! Ragda Patties not Ragda Pattice) in the west, aloo tikki chaat in the north and Aloo guguni chaat in the east and it's as tasty in all its numerous renditions. It truly has a high crowd pleasing potential with really not a lot of effort and of course what better than to invite friends over for a plate of Indian street food?

~Ragda Pattice/ Aloo tikki chaat/ Aloo guguni chaat ~

This strikingly colorful, savory Indian street food is a delightful combination of aromatic potato patties served with a dollop of spicy yellow pea curry. Generous sprinklings of assorted chutneys, crispy sev ( fried chickpea noodles) and chopped onions add the extra sparkle to the glory of this dish. 

Ragda/Guguni (Yellow pea curry)
This is my way of making this spicy and tangy yellow pea curry and it is incredibly easy and tastes exactly like the one in the roadside stalls. A surprising ingredient is responsible for these ease. Read on and find out.

2 C Whole Yellow/White peas (Soaked overnight)
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 C Oil
4 nos. Medium sized tomatoes- Chopped

In 1 cup of water make a paste of the following:
3 T Tomato Ketchup
1 T Sambhar powder (Surprise! Surprise!)
1 tsp Chili powder
¼ tsp Sugar
Salt to taste

1. Boil the peas with salt and turmeric powder till just done. Leave aside.
2. In a deep pan, add in the oil and once the oil heats up, add in the chopped tomatoes and let it cook till soft and mushy (~ 2-3 mins).
3. Remember the paste you made of ketchup, sambar and chili powder? Add in that paste one spoon at a time and wait till the masala mixture is dry. Continue till you finish all of it and oil floats on top.
4. Now add in the boiled peas and cook over medium low heat till soft and mushy (~ 5 mins).
5. Adjust for salt and amchur powder.

For the Aloo tikki (Potato patties):

4-5 nos. medium sized boiled potatoes
1 C Finely chopped mint
½ tsp Dry ginger powder
1 tsp Cumin/Jeera powder
2-3 nos. Finely chopped green chilies
½ tsp Garam Masala powder
2 T Rice flour or Corn flour
½ tsp Chaat masala
Pinch of sugar
Salt to taste
Bread crumbs 
Oil to fry.

1. Mash the boiled potatoes along with all the other ingredients. Adjust according to taste.
2. Divide the dough equally into palm sized rounds. Now flatten the mashed potato rounds, roll them in bread crumbs ( for the crunch!) and shallow fry till golden brown.

For the garnish:
Khajoor Imli chutney (For recipe see here)
Hari or green chutney (For recipe see here)
Chopped cilantro (Optional)
Chopped onions
Sev or fried crisp chickpea flour noodles
Chaat masala

Assembling the chaat and the order:
Place the tikki on the plate.
Pour a dollop of the yellow pea curry.
Drizzle it with oodles of imli and hari chutney.
Sprinkle the chopped onions, sev and chaat masala.

Some useful notes:
If making it for a party,
- Soak the peas two nights before the event and boil the next day. Store it in the refrigerator for the day of the event when you prepare the guguni.
- You can prepare the tikkis the day before the event and refrigerate it. Fry it just before the party begins. That way the patties hold together much better leaving you with little work to do on the day of the party.
- You can even prepare all the chutneys beforehand and refrigerate.
- After you are done frying up the patties, cover the dish containing them with aluminium foil and keep it hot in the oven (250 oF) till the guests arrive.
- Place all the components of this dish on your counter and watch the guests get creative with their plate of chaat.

Now as you watch your guests get creative and excited about their plate of chaat, its almost impossible to feel the rush of satisfaction and happiness at that very sight. There's truly no joy greater than feeding someone to their heart's content and especially so when its your own family and friends :) 

So the next time you think about ordering something from the restaurant..think if that's the tradition you would want in your family...and if the answer is no, then go ahead, take some pains and see how fruitful and rewarding this whole process can be.Post in your experience in the comments and share the joys you have felt when you have done the same for someone.

So until next time!

P.S: Submitting this recipe to:
- WTML - May hosted by Gayatri.
- "Anniversary Celebrations" by Cook,Click and Devour
- " Kid friendly dishes" hosted by Vardhini of Cook's joy.