I am back with another Mangalorean favourite that aptly belongs to the Kapi Falhaar series - the Beetroot Bonda which is also known as the Vegetable or Mixed Veg Bonda in Mangalore. Basic bondas (or fritters) are made with a potato mash that is tempered with various seasonings and then formed into balls, coated with chickpea flour batter and deep fried till golden brown. They are then served with a variety of coconut chutneys or tomato ketchup or both. Since we are die hard fans of Mangalorean snacks, the husband and I never miss the chance of eating out at the various cafes and restaurants that dot Mangalore on our every visit. The potato or beetroot bonda is pretty much on our wish list everytime with the Goli Baje and Mangalore Buns topping the list every time. Last year when I visited Mangalore I requested my mum in law to make it for breakfast. I noted down her recipe and even took the pictures but since I wasn't too happy with the way the pictures turned out in the bleak light (thanks to the heavy rains) I decided to make them once I returned to Dubai. I made them a couple of times since then but was too lazy to note down the exact measures. Thanks to the Kapi Falhaar series, I have no more excuses to keep this recipe away from you any longer.
Since I am obsessed with recording absolutely accurate recipes I made sure that each and every ingredient was measured this time and although I was a little nervous before I began and kept calling the hubs for moral support (for some reason I am terrified of making deep fried snacks lest they flop) he didn't lift his head from his work and I proceeded to make it on my own. The mixture turned out a tad too soft because I had added a bit too much water (or so I thought) when I pressure cooked the veggies. My heart sank and I thought I would have to bin this experiment but luckily the taste was so fabulous that I decided to just eat the mixture if it didn't hold shape - I was starved and there was no way I was going to eat plain bread that day!
Beetroot Bonda | Vegetable Bonda
Prep time: 20-25 mins | Cooking time: 10 mins | Yield 14-15 medium sized bondas
For the mash:
For the seasoning:
- 500 grams potatoes (about 2 medium-big)
- 125 grams (1/2 of a medium sized) beetroot
- 80-100 grams carrots (about 1 medium sized) * see note#1
- 80-100 grams green peas (approx 1/2 cup) - frozen ones will do * see note#2
- salt to taste
For the batter/coating:
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 small green chillies minced (de seed them to tone down the spice or adjust the quantity to taste)
- 20-25 curry leaves (about 3 sprigs), finely shredded
- 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
- salt to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons oil
- 2 cups gram flour/chickpea flour (besan) * see note#3
- 1/2 tablespoon rice flour * see note#4
- 1 teaspoon plain red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- 1 pinch soda bi carb (baking soda)
- 1 pinch carom seeds (ajwain/omam)
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- salt to taste (I used approx 1-1/4 teaspoons)
- approx 1-3/4 cups of water (or as required to make the batter - see notes before proceeding)
Oil for deep frying * see note#6
1. There are two ways to cook the vegetables:
A) You can pressure cook the whole potatoes (washed but not peeled or cut) in some water (enough to cover them) and salt for about 6-7 whistles. Then turn off the heat and let the cooker cool down to room temperature and then open the lid. Don't leave the potatoes after this point as they will begin to absorb the water and turn soggy when mashed. Remove, peel and mash. In another pan add the peeled and finely chopped carrots and beetroots, salt and cook till tender. Mash them well and add the potato mash and peas and mash everything well
B) You can cook everything in one go by peeling the potatoes, beetroots and carrots and chopping them into tiny cubes. Transfer to a pressure cooker and add just enough water to prevent scorching. I used approx (little less than) 3/4th cup of water and salt to taste. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles and turn off the heat. Let the cooker cool down before opening the lid. Mash well, add the frozen peas and mash coarsely.
2. Heat the oil in a wok/kadhai and add the mustard seeds. When the stop spluttering add the shredded curry leaves, minced ginger and green chillies and reduce the heat. Fry for half a minute and then add the prepared vegetable mash. Stir in the chopped coriander and let the mixture cool completely. Form lemon sized balls and keep aside (*see notes).
4. Sift in the gram flour, rice flour, salt, hing and chilli powder into a bowl. Stir in the carom seeds and add the water 1/4 cup at a time and mix until you get a loose batter - it should neither be too thick nor too thin. Try dropping a little batter and it should fall into droplets.
5. Heat oil for deep frying - to test readiness, pour 1-2 drops of the batter into it and if the droplets come to the surface immediately with bubbles around them, the oil is ready. Maintain the heat of the oil on a medium high - too hot and the bonda will burn. Not hot enough and they will absorb too much oil.
6. When the oil is ready, dip the prepared balls into the batter, roll well to coat evenly and release into the oil one by one. Do not over crowd the pan. Use a slotted spoon to flip them over and fry evenly till golden. Drain and remove onto an absorbent kitchen tissue.
7. Serve hot with chutney or ketchup.
1. The quantities for the vegetables can vary as per your choice or availability of ingredients. Do note that if you increase the beetroot and carrots the mash may taste slightly sweetish. Since I didn't have enough carrots I used just a small one that weighed approx 80 grams. Let the combined quantity of beets and carrots not cross 200 - 220 grams if you don't want a sweetish mixture.
2. If you use frozen peas you don't need to cook them too much as they are already soft and will mash easily. However if you are using fresh peas then cook them along with the other veggies or pressure cook them with the potatoes.
3. Depending on the quality and texture (coarse or fine grind) of the gram flour the quantity of water will vary. In India you may get several varieties of gram flour that are used in the preparations of sweets and savouries - each will have a different texture so use water as required.
4. The addition of rice flour is optional but will make the bondas crisp on the outside. Carom seeds are optional but recommended as they will help prevent gas/flatulence
5. While shaping the balls if the mixture seems too sticky it maybe because it is still hot or you've added a little too much water to cook the veggies. Allow the mixture to cool completely or pop it in the fridge for 15 mins to help harden up a bit. Worst case scenario: Add fresh bread crumbs to help get rid of the extra moisture - do note that it may tone down the flavours of the mixture.
6. Make sure that the wok/kadhai used to fry the bonda is sufficiently big. If you use very little oil, the bondas owing to their weight will sink and settle at the base. Sufficient amount of oil and the right temperature of the oil is essential to help them float and fry evenly.