BISOU- A little sugar & a whole lot of love!

Hello Peeps!

Today being New Year’s Eve, I thought what better way to end 2016 than on a sweet note. So this blog is dedicated to my favourite cupcake shop, BISOU in Suria KLCC, 3rd floor. BISOU- is a French term meaning Kiss! Quite an apt name for the bakery as their cupcakes are like decadent kisses of everything sugary & sweet. This will be a photo blog showcasing some of their amazing assortment of flavours.

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One look at the cupcakes on display & you’ll be drawn towards their counter in no time. They look so pretty that sometimes you just want to stare & not eat. Their cakes are always fresh & moist while they use the best quality ingredients for their cream, ganache & frostings. Service is quick & efficient, however only 4-6 people can have a seat at a time & enjoy their cupcakes peacefully, as it’s a small kiosk with a couple of bar stools. Rest have to either pack for home or stand in a corner & eat anyway 😀

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Next time when you crave for something sweet and are near KLCC, do not forget to check out the bakery. It will simply make your day 🙂

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So here’s wishing all my readers a very happy 2017! See you next year with more interesting reviews, travel tales & lip-smacking recipes.

Patissez (Bangsar, KL)- Of freakshakes & pastas

 

This quaint little café in the heart of Jalan Telawi in upscale Bangsar is slowly becoming one of my favourite places to eat out in KL. It’s the home of the original freakshakes (Patissez in Australia) which is quite popular for being ridiculously over the top. Look at the picture below to know what I mean 😀

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I had been pestering S to take me there for quite some time. But he being a little health conscious wasn’t too keen on my proposal. However finally he gave in on Christmas day. Yay!! 🙂

The location is one of my favourite spots, Bangsar. The look & feel of the eatery is similar to those charming little cafes you find in Paris, where you can sit undisturbed for hours, watching the world go by. Parking here is quite difficult as it’s a residential area & the nearest LRT is Bangsar (which is 5 mins drive from the café). So it’s better to take a cab to the place.

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We placed an order for two of their freakshakes-

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Cafiend
Espresso salted caramel shake, loads of drizzled espresso salted caramel, chocolate mousse, house made graham cracker & toasted marshmallow s’more

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Pretzellâ
Nutellary Nutella shake – lashings of Nutella – salty pretzels – vanilla mousse – Nutella dunked salty pretzels – pretzel dust

Both were insanely good but my personal favourite was the Pretzella. It was pure sin especially for worshippers of nutella like me. The salt and the crunch from the cute little pretzels balanced the sweetness of the nutella to perfection. All freakshakes are priced at RM23.

One thing I must mention is the service. Unfortunately because of the rush, the service was pretty slow that day but I didn’t mind because the staff was very friendly and polite. They always have a smile on their face whenever you approach them.

For our mains we ordered pasta. Although Patissez doesn’t offer a wide range of pasta dishes, but what they do offer is irresistible. In fact I have had my best pasta here at Patissez.

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Kale Pesto Fettuccini 

This one was vegetarian. The fettuccini cooked with Portobello mushroom, Confit cherry tomatoes & kale pesto, with generous cubes of parmesan cheese was in one word heavenly! The cheese coated deep fried zucchini was complementing the dish superbly.

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Aglio Olio Chicken Bacon

The angel hair pasta was perfectly seasoned with chili flakes in olive oil. The chicken bacon was delightfully crispy and I wished I could have some more.

Overall, this place is a must visit. It’s perfect for a first date, a girls’ day out or even a casual business meeting. A lunch for two would set you back around 100RM.

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Sanook- A little thai gem

So guess who’s back from a hiatus 🙂

2016 has been a roller-coaster ride, some ups, many downs 😦 but that’s life. What I learned is that you should treasure each and every moment you spend with your dear ones and never let the passion in you die.

So I have decided to follow my love for all things food more fervently. Along with experimenting in the kitchen and sharing recipes, I would also dabble in restaurant (from small roadside shack to a 5 star) reviews specifically keeping in mind our Indian travelers. We Indians love to travel and South East Asia is one of our favourites. The enormous range of cuisines and flavours are simply overwhelming. From Nasi Lemak to Gado Gado, Bibimbap to Mee Goreng, Satays to Tutu cakes- one can’t even envisage the sheer variety on offer. So I will mostly tell you guys about places to eat keeping in mind our palette 😀 Basically a handy guide not just for travelers but also for Indians who are new to KL and plan to set base for a while.

That brings me to my very first restaurant review- Sanook (Pavilion Mall, KL)

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A Thai restaurant, Sanook is a small cozy eatery located at a corner in Pavilion mall, Bukit Bintang, KL. The other outlet is at Sunway Pyramid West Hotel. The husband and I, let’s call him S here, were craving for some Thai food, while we were pottering around the upscale mall. So we headed to the area that housed the most eateries. Looking around for some time, we finally spotted Sanook- a little further from Food Republic (food court at Pavilion). The lively décor and welcoming staff are hard to miss.

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The place was relatively empty for a Saturday and we were wondering if we made the right choice. But then they say, never judge a book by its cover, so we decided to check in anyway. The menu had many Thai starters and main courses to choose from, along with few options for sushi burgers. The husband ordered Original Pad Thai-Chicken, which is his favourite. In fact sometimes I wonder if he is on a secret mission to discover the best Pad Thai ever 😀 The pad thai looked delish and the portion was enough for one. The crunch of the peanuts, juiciness of the tender chicken, spice from the chilly, tang of the lemon along with the warm rice noodles, were a riot of flavours in the mouth. But what upset me in the beginning was that they didn’t serve lemon wedges with the noodles!! Isn’t it a crime? Pad thai without lemon?? But they made up for that with their taste. The pad thai was absolutely lip-smacking! I would have preferred a little more sprinkling of salt though, but S didn’t seem to mind. Overall it was very scrumptious.

20161218_142219Pad Thai

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I had ordered for Tom Yum Seafood Fried rice and Spicy Red Curry Chicken in a peanut based sauce.The curry was not too spicy, but nonetheless flavourful with generous chunks of boneless chicken pieces. The coconut milk was very well balanced with the spices and the kaffir lime. None of the flavours were overpowering which I feel is the real hallmark of Thai food. But the insane number of chunky galangal pieces I found in my curry was sort of annoying and distracting me from enjoying the dish to the fullest. But overall, it was delightful.

20161218_142913Spicy Red Curry Chicken in a Peanut based sauce

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However the star of the night was definitely the fried rice. It was in fact one of the best tom yum rice I ever had. The fresh prawns, fleshy calamari, sharp kaffir lime leaves, fragrant lemongrass, spicy red chillis and the aroma of crushed shallots and garlic, in just the right measure is what made the dish mouthwatering. I just couldn’t have enough of it. In fact I wanted to pack some for home.

20161218_142149Tom Yum Seafood Fried Rice

Sanook is pretty easy on the pocket. A similar dinner for two would cost around 80-100RM. So do check this place out. I am definitely returning soon.

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Ray classic Mahanagar & Narkel diye aloo posto (fried potatoes with grated coconut & poppy seeds)

Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week   -H.W Longfellow

Since childhood, Sundays have always meant celebration. From waking up late to watching television for an extra hour, lazing around, playing with friends in the park even in scorching heat & most importantly that special Sunday lunch. Bongs are very emotional about this one meal of the week when everyone’s at home, no school, no office, no weekday stress & mommy cooking up a storm in the kitchen 🙂

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mahanagar
Image source: http://www.exoticindiaart.com

It was as special as a five course meal at a fine dining restaurant. But it had to be a true blue bengali meal through & through. From shaak bhaja (stir fried greens) to shukto (bong style mix veg curry, slightly sweet), daal (lentils), maacher jhol (fish curry), kosha mangsho (spicy sauteed mutton), chaatni (a sweet relish made with mango/ dry fruits/ tomato) & doi (yogurt) preferably mishti/ sweet. Yes! All these were a part of our sunday meals.

Even to this day, Sunday lunch is a big deal. If I am home, I try & cook something traditional, simple & comforting. Just how home made meals should be 🙂

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Last Saturday for dinner, the husband & I went to a swanky Japanese bbq restaurant. Though the food was nice but it was a little too bland for my liking 😛 Blame my love for all things spicy!

So naturally, we were craving for some simple home made food for lunch. I made the following:

  • Bhaja moong’er dal motorshuti diye (yellow lentils with peas)
  • Narkel aloo posto (fried potatoes with grated coconut & poppy seeds)
  • Begun’er jhal (A spicy eggplant curry)
  • Shaada bhaat (Plain white rice)
Bhaaja Moong'er dal motorshuti diye
Bhaaja Moong’er dal motorshuti diye
Begun'er jhaal
Begun’er jhaal
Narkel diye aloo posto
Narkel diye aloo posto
Shaada bhaat
Shaada bhaat

Yeah no longer a five course meal but tasty & filling nonetheless 🙂

We also follow a tradition of watching a movie at home in the afternoon post lunch, some old classic. ‘Mahanagar’ (a Satyajit Ray masterpiece) it was this time. A contemporary movie about a housewife in Calcutta who despite coming from a traditional family gets a saleswoman job & feels economically emancipated. The movie remarkably explored the social dynamics of the 60’s & is widely regarded as one of Ray’s greatest films.

Recipe: Narkel diye aloo posto

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 medium sized potatoes, diced in cubes
  • 3 tbs oil (I used olive oil)
  • 3 green chillis slit
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbs ginger paste
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup poppy seeds paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • sugar to taste

Method:

For the poppy seeds paste, take 3 tbsp of poppy seeds in a bowl. Add 1 green chilli, some salt and a little warm water and keep aside for about 30 mins. Grind them into a smooth paste.

Now heat oil in a wok, add the slit chillis & cumin seeds into it. Keep stirring for 30 seconds and throw in the ginger paste. Once the raw smell is gone, add the grated coconut & stir well. Turn the heat to medium. It will take about 4-5 minutes for the coconut to brown & get that wonderful aroma.

Now add the diced potatoes & fry well. Sprinkle some salt, sugar, turmeric & red chilli powder & keep stirring until the potatoes are almost done. Add the poppy paste & mix everything together. Cook for 5 more minutes & you are done!

Serve hot with rice/ rotis.

Shorshe Chingri Bhape (Steamed prawns in mustard- green chilli sauce)

Golden beauty
Golden beauty

Since my arrival in KL, I have had an amazing food journey. This city is a melting pot of culture & thanks to that I have experienced not just Malay but Korean, Thai, Taiwanese, Indonesian, Cantonese, Singaporean & many more such cuisines. So mostly when the husband & I go out on weekends for dinner, we end up gorging on these. Someday I really wish to learn how to cook authentic Indonesian cuisine. I am so much in love with it because of its resemblance with Indian food, especially in the use of spices. Every dish bursting with flavours & there is a generous use of peanuts, cumin, chillis, coriander seeds, coconut, lime, shallots & peppers. See I told you! We Indians use all these ingredients for our daily meals.

Prawn Satay is one of my favourites. I have always had a weakness for prawns & this dish is exceptional but if you want to get the authentic taste then you must try it at some local joint instead of a fancy restaurant. I promise to share an authentic recipe of this dish soon.

So yes why am I telling you all this is because today I’ll be sharing a brilliant prawn recipe. An authentic dish from Bengal, India. I love how my ma or my mashi (mom’s sister) makes it & I am simply going to recreate it without making any changes. I guess few things are better left untouched to preserve tradition & nostalgia in my case 🙂

So Shorshe Chingri it is! This is a quintessential dish which every bengali worth his salt will have on the menu on any special occasion. The tartness of the mustard sauce will make your tastebuds dance 🙂 The word ‘shorshe’ means mustard & ‘bhape’ means steamed in English. So this dish is originally prepared in a steamer but I made it in a microwave & it tasted equally good.

Juicy succulent prawns
Juicy succulent prawns

Ingredients:

Ingredients for the dish
Ingredients for the dish
  • 15 medium to big sized prawns
  • 2 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 4-5 green chillis
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste

For this recipe its very important to use fresh prawns. Avoid frozen ones if possible.

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Such beauties 😉

Now wash the prawns & remove their shells. Carefully de-vein them. This step should be done without fail to avoid any allergic reaction.

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Now for the mustard paste- take 2 tbsp of mustard seeds in a bowl. Add 1 green chilli, some salt and a little warm water and keep aside for about 30 mins. Grind them into a smooth paste. You can add some more water if the mustard is too pungent for you. These days, mustard powder is readily available in the market & you just need to add some water to make a paste and use it.

Now in a microwave safe bowl, add the prawns, salt, turmeric powder, slit green chillis, mustard paste and mustard oil. Mix well and keep aside for 30 mins.

All set to go in the oven
All set to go in the oven

Now cover the bowl with a lid and cook for about 4-5 mins on high power. Take it out, give it a good stir & again cook for another 4 mins. Don’t overcook as the prawns will become hard.

Just before serving, drizzle some mustard oil for that extra kick. Serve hot with rice.

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Sponge cake (with dry fruits & chocolate bits)

Freshly baked...straight from the stove top!
Freshly baked…straight from the stove top!

It was quite sometime that I was craving for simple homemade cakes. The market is flooded with its richer varieties- loaded with cream, ganache, fondant & frostings. No doubt they are absolutely lip-smacking & worth indulging on cheat days but for me nothing is as comforting as a warm slice of the humble homemade sponge cake. So I decided to bake one.

But there was a small hurdle to be dealt with at first 😀 I had no oven! & my microwave didn’t have convection mode but I badly wanted to have some cake :/ I quickly flipped through the pages of my recipe diary, hoping to find at least one cake recipe baked in a cooker/ pan & voila!! I had actually noted down a very simple sponge cake recipe by celebrity Indian chef Rakesh Sethi long back & it came to my rescue today 🙂 He baked it in a cooker but I baked mine in a deep bottomed pan. My cooker wasn’t wide enough to place the cake tin inside. Worked perfectly fine, just that took double the time. One thing I can assure you that there couldn’t possibly be any simpler sponge cake recipe that is fantastic to taste as well. Do try it at your home. I slightly modified the recipe to suit my taste & diet needs 😉

So soft and fluffy!
So soft and fluffy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (I used brown)
  • 1/4 cup butter (I used salted butter)
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk (preferably made from whole milk)
  • 1 cup maida/ all purpose flour (I used wholewheat cake flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Milk for batter
  • Almonds, raisins, dark chocolate bits & shavings

Method:

Take a deep bottomed pan & place it on the stove top on low heat. Pour 1 cup salt into the pan. It will act as the base. This is necessary so that your pan doesn’t get burnt & neither does your cake. Now cover with a lid. Make sure there is a small vent/ opening on the lid. If using a cooker, don’t forget to remove the whistle while closing the lid for preheating.

For the batter, take a big bowl. Add sugar, butter & the condensed milk. Mix well using a balloon whisk. Now slowly add in the flour, baking powder & baking soda. Add milk in desired quantity to make the perfect thick batter.

Throw in some chopped almonds, raisins &  chocolate bits & mix well. Grate 2 pieces of dark chocolate (chocolate shavings) and add in the batter.

Now line the cake tin with butter and pour the batter into it. (That rhymed 😀 butter & batter!) Make sure the batter is evenly spread. Now remove the lid from the pan & carefully place the tin inside it as the pan is very hot. Cover with the lid once again. On low heat it will take you around 50 minutes. On a pressure cooker it takes 25-30 minutes as per the chef. Keep checking with a tooth pick or knife after 40 minutes and when it comes out clean your cake is ready!

Enjoy with a cup of freshly brewed tea like I did or as it is. A slice of happiness, a slice of life 🙂

Note: ALWAYS use the same cup for all measurements (whether 1/2, 1/3 or 1)

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Rustic Chilli Garlic Naan

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Perks of being a teacher. Yes, I used to teach at a leading hotel management institute in Calcutta. Those were some memorable days! Classes, assignments, exams, paper corrections, celebrating festivals, cultural activities..and so on. But among all these things, I also got to learn some really amazing recipes from different corners of India. One of my students’ family owned a chain of dhabas in the city. The recipe that I am about to share today is a very popular one from his dhaba.  One can never have enough of it. I have had it many times and drooled every single time! Finally after some coaxing, he shared the recipe with me 🙂 Yay!!

I served these crispy hot naans with kadhai chicken (will share the recipe soon) at dinner one evening and the husband was mighty pleased. He polished off his plate in no time. A sight which I love to watch over and over again 🙂

So here’s the recipe (for 5 medium sized naans):

  • 2 cups all purpose flour/ maida
  • 1/2 cup curd
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped garlic & green chillis
ingredients for the naan
ingredients for the naan

First sieve the flour in a big bowl. Next, sieve the baking powder & baking soda. Add some salt & mix well.

Now add the curd & mix it with your hands. Keep adding water slowly & knead the dough. It is going to be sticky but don’t worry. The dough is supposed to be loose & sticky. Now add in the lemon juice. Mix again. This is how it will look like:

the dough mix
the dough mix

Put a wet cloth over the bowl & then cover it with a lid. Let it rest for about 4-5 hours in a warm & dark place. You can slightly preheat your oven & then keep the dough for resting.

the dough resting
the dough resting

Now since the final dough is stretchy, add some loose maida & make 5 balls. Put them on any flat surface & press & stretch each dough ball with both hands. You can give them any shape, I made them oval. The dough shouldn’t be very thick but about 1 cm. Now put chopped garlic & chillis all over the naan & press with a rolling pin so that they stick well.

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The naans in a dhaba are made in open tandoors, but you can recreate them at home using oven or a gas stove.

Now heat a tawa. Place a naan on it. When you see small bubbles forming on top of the naan, turn it over.

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Using tongs, heat the naan for 5-6 seconds over direct flame

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Now put the naan back on the tawa for some more time. Once slightly brown, remove it from the flame. Don’t overheat , else it might get hard & chewy.

Brush some butter and serve hot.

20150716_20135320150716_201349Soft yet flaky naans 🙂

This is the Kadhai chicken I served with the naans:

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Of biriyani, haleem & kheer- Happy Eid

Eid is synonymous with lip-smacking food, celebrations galore, laughter, decking up homes in colourful & vibrant hues, gifts & most importantly big warm hugs! Muslims in all parts of the world will usher in Eid-Ul-Fitr around 17th of July (depending on moon sighting) finally marking the end of Ramadan.

I am filled with nostalgia as I fondly recall Eid celebrations in my country. As I close my eyes, I can still feel the lovely aroma emanating from the kitchen of my next door neighbour. She used to cook some heavenly biriyani. Eid’s biriyani is always special- made with an extra dose of love 🙂 What sticks in the memory most is how I used to wait for my Eid holiday to get over so that the next day I could gorge on some yummy seviyan kheer (vermicelli & milk pudding with nuts & raisins) which my school friend got from her home.

Here in Malaysia, Eid is a very grand affair. The streets are decked up with lights, shops giving generous discounts on goodies, iftar treats post sundown and it all starts days in advance. Its such a beautiful festive feeling. You see people smiling, shopping, eating dinner with family- perhaps enough to forget your own personal battles & struggles for the time being.

With just few hours away from the big day, I wish all my readers love, luck & a lot of happiness. May the almighty bless you all in abundance, or as they say here in Malaysia – “Selamat Hari Raya AidilFitri”

I will sign off here with a visual tour of the amazing Eid treats that I got a chance to devour here in KL 🙂

Cute little garment shops

Cute little garment shops

Some family time
Some family time

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Baju Kurung- traditional malay costume
Baju Kurung- traditional malay costume
Appetizing goodies
Appetizing goodies
Eid treats
Eid treats
& some more treats
& some more treats
Man selling tawa kebabs
Man selling tawa kebabs

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some traditional sharbats (drinks)
some traditional sharbats (drinks)
The quintessential haleem!
The quintessential haleem!
Rich & creamy chicken korma
Rich & creamy chicken korma
Melt in the mouth kebabs
Melt in the mouth kebabs
Hot tandoori naans
Hot tandoori naans
Biriyani
Biriyani

Rainy day munching & a happy start

Crunchy vegetable pakoras

Its a lazy rainy morning. One of those days when you want to drink a steaming cup of coffee (green tea in my case 😀 ) & gorge on some munchies all snuggled up in bed of course! As I stared out of my window, I was reminded of my days back in Calcutta, India when my ma used to rustle up some delish hot pakoras (fritters) with whatever veggies she could lay her hands on.

Ummm…heavenly!! The perfect comfort food in the rains. The crunch of the thin crusted fritters along with the pitter patter raindrops was like music to my soul.

Today sitting in Kuala Lumpur, I am suddenly craving for my mom made pakoras. I run into my kitchen & check the pantry. So I have a medium sized carrot, a large yellow bell pepper & two onions. Perfect! What better way to kick-start my blog than by sharing one of my favourite snack recipes. So lets get started.

Here’s what you need: (for about 15-16 fritters)

  • 1 big carrot  (cut in thin long strips)
  • 1 big bell pepper ( same as above)
  • 2 medium sized onions (sliced)
  • 2 chopped green chillies (depending on your heat tolerance)
  • few chopped mint leaves to add a fresh zing (my twist 😉 )
  •  For the batter:      
  • 5-6 tbsp of besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 tbsp of sunflower oil
  • some water for a semi thick batter
  • Now add the following spices:  
  • Red chilli powder- 1 tsp
  • Chaat masala- 1 tsp
  • Pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
  • Ajwain (carom seed)- 1 tsp
  • a pinch of garam masala
  • a pinch of sugar
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice- 1 1/2 tbsp

Add the water slowly until you get a not so thick batter. Mix in all the veggies. Keep aside for 15-20 mins. Heat oil in a pan. Put a spoonful of batter one by one into the pan & deep fry the pakodas till dark golden brown.

Serve hot with green chutney, tomato ketchup, masala chai (tea) or chilled beer. The choice is endless. Simple pleasures of life 🙂

The veggies
The veggies
Besan
Besan
The final batter
The final batter
Deep fry the pakoras/ fritters
Deep fry the pakoras/ fritters
Yumminess
Yumminess
Crispy juicy pakoras!
Crispy juicy pakoras!