Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Bread Pakoda Solution

So yesterday was a particularly bad day at work and I came home in a horrible mood.

Sometimes people in my office really amaze me, but let us not get into the details. Not good for the blood pressure. And anyway, I have decided to become a highly spiritual, forgiving person and rise above and beyond all the little matters. I will look at all my fellow human beings with a kindly eye (not sure what the other eye is supposed to be doing at this time) and try and understand other people's perspectives more. No more judgements - even for the cretins I work with.

But till I reach that stage, I will have to learn to deal with the bad moods. And I think I've hit upon one possible solution.

It is called 'Home Made Bread Pakodas and Chai'

Vijay came home at an unusually decent time yesterday ( may be indecent from his boss's perspective but who cares about that!) and started talking about going out to Bandstand for a Bread Pakoda, his favourite snack. I demurred (cool new word) because I could imagine the dirty brown lumps floating in a sea of unhygienic, reheated oil. As a compromise for him, and to get my mind off the bad day, I offered to make Vijay his snack at home, and he delightedly agreed.

I shall carefully list the steps for those of you who don't know how to cook: this is one stunt you can definitely try at home!

1. Go to the fridge, open it and start moaning that none of the ingredients you need are there. Get the husband to come and find all the ingredients from different parts of the kitchen. Feel vindicated when you prove to him that there is no white bread in the house. Make him call up nearby store and deliver the same speedily.

2. While the store guy brings the bread over, happily discover three already boiled potatoes in the fridge. Warm them in the microwave and then mash them up with your (washed - well, ideally) hands, enjoying the warm, gooey feel between your fingers. Be in a happy, relaxed mood at this time, and do not equate this in your mind to bashing somebody to a pulp.

3. Once the potatoes are properly mashed, grab a nearby knife while husband watches nervously. Don't bother to wash your hands at this point as you will need to get them into the potatoes again. Use the now mash-potatoed-knife to expertly and vigorously chop one large onion into teeny tiny pieces, all the while not imagining cutting an annoying colleague to bits.

4. Add the chopped onions to the mashed potatoes and energetically use your fingers to massage them into a nice paste. Add a spoon of salt and two spoons of red chilli powder to this mix and continue to pound away, while not bitching about office politics to your husband at all. Do not choose this moment to remove your hair from your eye, thereby getting chilli powder into your eye and running around screaming until you find a tap.

5. Through watery eyes, if your eyes happen to be watery at this time for any reason, cast a withering look at your concerned, hovering husband and ask him coldly 'Who's going to prepare the besan?'. Watch him mix the besan, water and a pinch of salt to a fine consistency. As your eyes stop burning, feel better about life and therefore do not nag him about the besan mix being too thin and too thick alternately.

6. Heat some oil in a pan and watch it blankly for a while. Then ask your husband 'Who's going to slice the bread?'. Watch him cut the bread into neat pieces. Do not snap at him when he asks you if it should be cut into triangles or rectangles. Just say 'Rectangles' quietly ( You can also choose triangles if you're in that kind of mood).

7. You are now ready for the final act! Put your tasty alu-masala-mix in between the bread slices, trying not to 'sample' too much of it while doing so as this is going to give you a stomach-ache later. Since you have dirtied your hands enough, ask your husband to take over at this stage. Watch him dip the stuffed bread slices into the besan and gently drop them into the heated oil. His hands are all messy with the besan and soon, so is the ladle he is using to fry the bread-pakodas, and also the entire stove area. Do not reprimand him for strewing all the extra fried bits and pieces merrily all around the kitchen instead of into one plate.

8. Prepare the roti-dabba with napkins so that the husband can deftly drop the golden, delicious looking treats into the same, where they will remain hot and tasty until the tea is ready. Remember the tea at this point. Since you are no longer doing anything useful, prepare the tea, using only my brand, Red Label.

9. Impatiently wait for the husband to finish making the last of the bread pakodas. Useful tip: ball up the remaining alu masala into round balls, dip them into the last of the besan and fry them into delicious kofta-type balls. Voila! 6 bread pakodas, 3 kofta-balls, 2 cups of steaming tea are ready.

Ignore the fact that your kitchen looks as though its been hit by a tornado and that your maid Zareena may either have a heart attack or quit tomorrow morning when she sees it (it's a cruel world and her occupational hazards are her concern).

10. Last step: Excitedly run to the drawing room with all the food, run back, switch off the gas, run into the drawing room again to enjoy your home-made treat. Remember to take some Maggi Hot & Sweet Tomato Chilli Ketchup (It's different), and the tea with you. Sit cross legged on your mat, enjoy the sea view and pretend you are enjoying the sea breeze too ( hey, it's hot in Mumbai and we need the AC). You will notice by this time, you have forgotten all about your stupid colleagues and you realise it's wrong to let such insignificant things bother you.

After you have enjoyed the perfect cup of tea and eaten the hot, tasty, spicy, crisp bread pakodas (1.5 nos.) and kofta (1 nos.) and your husband has devoured the rest, you lie back contentedly together like 2 over-stuffed bread pakodas - and watch a two hour special on the Birth of the Universe on National Geographic. This further helps to realize how tiny you really are, and thereby strengthen your belief that all the little things in life that get you down are even tinier, so they're just not worth it.

But the converse is not true: the little things in life that make you happy are indeed worth feeling good about.

And as you lie there half asleep, you realize you've totally spoilt your dinner for the night - but what better way could there be to do it?


  1. wz having a bad day myself...this is hw i got cured!!!!so looking forawrd to ur 2 month break lal!!

  2. u have to , have to write a book.....i don't like indian writing because its so serious all the time...but u have a talent...u seriously do

  3. and you can cook !!
    what a multi-talented personality i say!

  4. i always thought bread pakoda is just another 'snack'...never knew they could prove such a point about life !!

  5. "Maggi" sauce!! whatever happened to Kissan? or are we shifting brand loyalties already ?!

  6. Tanu: you bet!
    Svety: Thank you!
    Anon 1: Indeed.
    S: Neither did I till I wrote it down
    Anon 2: I was never loyal to Kissan. Who are you?

  7. and i thought all the biting sarcasm & cynicism was reserved for unfortunate trainees ....
    didn't realise it's put to (slightly) more productive use!

  8. tch tch ... took you a while though.
    Now you know what fat, jobless ASMs do ...

  9. who else could lavish so much praise (?!@#) on you ??

  10. Oops, I just realised you might not (will not?) have the patience for my recipe, as it does take a while to get them browned and crisped on medium heat. Here's another variation.

    Make the filling as directed, as you wish, whatever. Then, soak bread and wring out water as before, only you do not need to be as careful, as you're going to throw the wet bread into the mixture. Do that (throw b into m) and mix well, but DON'T MASH, as that will draw out the water in the potatoes.

    Now make reasonable sized balls (you can put some shredded cheese in the centre of each ball, just delicious - cheese is a good addition to the other variation too) and shape them into tikkis. NO BASON again, just shallow fry or brush with oill and bake.

    Sorry if the cookery lesson is boring you. Just ignore it if it does, ok?

  11. Hey, what happened to my previous post?

  12. Good, goodder and gooddest!

    Way to go, Y.

    I agree with svety. You just HAVE to write a book!

    btw, try my variation on bread pakoras. I call them bread rolls:

    Proceed in much the same way as your filling. Add bits of boiled eggs, or sausages, peas, gobi (fried, cooked, ...) - anything that takes your fancy / that you have lying around, even left-over meat-curry, veg curry, as long as it's dry.

    Now take a whole slice of bread, throw it into a bowl of water. Carefully lift it out in the palm of your hand and get the water out by squeezing it gently between the palms of both hand. Make a sausage shape of and place some of the stuffing onto the slice and roll it - the slice - up so two edges meet. Gently press two edges to seal. Shallow or deep fry it on MEDIUM heat, turning frequently till golden brown and crisp on all sides.

    You can even brush it with oil and throw it into the oven.

    Fantabulously delicious! One of your unc's fav snacks. Before I started starving him, i.e.

  13. Ah-h-h! There it be! WOnder what went wrong ze fest toime?

  14. Hmm your Y 'made'V 'executed' break pakoda exercise reminds me a lot of the 'chicken soup made by mother's own hands' routine my mom made me go through last winters...On my break home, down with sniffles, my mother feels moved enough to suggest that only her 'home made chicken soup' can cure the bug...so it starts with:
    *aneela go ask for a 2kg desi chicken na so I make the soup.
    *Arey, you have to wash it first baba, and wash your hands before that.
    *Now dont just look at me like that, there goes the phone, tauba, OK you place it in the pot with the tomatoes and spices and four cups water and I will see who is calling me.
    *Now these office people just dont let me be. You mind the flame while I finish some calls.
    *Are you watching TV again...keep checking the stock and call me when it reduces to two cups.
    *I patiently remove the chicken carcass and the gun powder..and pour myself a cup....my mom comes waltzing in...So now how do you feel, see its only when you drink something made by your mother's hands that you can feel better...you can thank me later when you are away in Melbourne.


Hi there. Go on, say it. Well? WELL?