Dal pakora on a rainy evening

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It has been a while since I scribbled my thoughts. We moved to a new place, soaked in our surroundings and managed to build a base. The weather has been unpredictable, some days sprouting hopes for a balmy summer while some days are back to icy chills. One a particular day when the rain brushed against our window panes, my husband came home from work and asked if I could make him some pakoras with tea.
Pakoras are fried snacks typically made in India, from where I hail, as accompaniments to an evening tea time or serving guests at home. They are made from both meat and vegetables, and are deep fried in oil till crisp and fluffy. The calorie conscious person will try to avoid it, but then, once in a while, binging is fine I guess. A healthier alternative would be to bake these pakoras, though personally I have not tried it yet.
I decided to make masoor dal pakoras for that evening, as it tastes heavenly on a rainy day. Masoor dal is red lentils, and are available at grocery shops easily. I took approximately one cup of masoor dal and soaked it in water for about two hours. Somehow when it comes to cooking, I am not very particular about exact measurements and portions. I do it instinctively, and feel that experimentation brings out the best flavors and taste.
After around 2 hours of soaking ( you can soak for more time, but red lentils tend to soften fast, so too much time can make the batter mushy), I ground the dal with little water in a mixer till it was soft. The consistency of this mixture should be relatively thick, so be careful while adding water while grinding. I next sliced one onion, and shredded it into fine pieces and mixed it into the dal batter. I also chopped up some coriander leaves, around 2 green chillies and a little bit of ginger. i normally use a chopper to chop these, as it gives a finer consistency and mixes in really well into the batter. Along with that, a pinch of turmeric powder and red chilli powder,and salt to taste was added. If your batter is still watery, you can also add little gram flour or corn flour which will thicken it.
This pakoda recipe was learnt from the cook at my maternal grandmother’s place, who would lovingly make it for me every time I visited their house. Somehow in all those years, I never asked her for the recipe, I was too busy anxiously waiting for these pakoras and eating them whenever I got the chance. After all this time, as I stood in my kitchen preparing the pakora batter, a sense of nostalgia struck me. Thousand of miles away from home, I could smell the aromas of my grandmother’s kitchen, the familiar sounds and smells which I miss dearly.
Coming back to the pakora preparation, once the batter is ready, heat oil for deep frying in a deep bottomed pan. Be careful not to make the oil too hot, as it might burn the pakoras. Next take a spoon and scoop out batter and slowly rest in into the hot oil. This process requires attention and practice, and one should be very careful while placing the batter into the pan. Using a slotted spoon, fry the pakoras till golden brown. Scoop them out and leave to rest on an absorbent paper, till the excess oil drains out. Serve hot with ketchup, any sort of chutney or simply with a cup if tea.
P.S Pakoras should be eaten while still hot, as that brings out their taste better than when cold.

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