I had written my last blog about my Mother’s recipe book from her Home Science class in 1952 when she had just started college. The fourth recipe in her in the class notebook is Potato Kachories. I assumed- before reading it – that it referred to crisp thick puris stuffed with spiced potatoes, a pretty common street food in the northern and western parts of India. However, in this case, the word kachori should have been read in quotes as this “kachori” is actually a pseudo-kachori, made during the fasting season out of a coating of mashed potatoes rather than flour. It in fact, refers to mashed potato balls stuffed with a combination of coconut, raisins, chilies and fresh coriander. And doesn’t THAT sound yum!? Apparently these are eaten during Hindu fasts when garlic, onions and cereals are not consumed. They turned out to be feasting food more than fasting food! But there isn’t any reason why they can’t be eaten as a snack on regular days.
My first attempt at following the recipe was a DISASTER! I forgot to chop the raisins, and while deep frying some of the balls EXPLODED! (I was hit by an airborne fat, hot raisin!) Lol! A real waste of oil and food! The second time around I added a small amount of arrowroot powder (similar to corn flour) to the potatoes, which I really don’t enjoy the pasty texture of. I flattened the balls and shallow fried them. They tasted pretty good, but as Mumbai potatoes are low in starch they ended up very gluey.
I found my community of bloggers and instagrammers to be a great resource to solve the gluey problem! When I posted my issue of exploding kachoris on Instagram, I received a deluge of advice (most of it useful!) Paula, my sister-n-law, told me to buy Talegaon “Pattice” Potatoes in Mumbai, which are higher in starch, so much less gluey. My American sister Amita Vinze (also a great cook by the way) suggested I microwave the potatoes to reduce their water content, and also prevent water absorption that happens in the potato when potatoes boil and skins rupture(brilliant idea!) My Instagram friend @thegutlessfoodie -Natasha Deedee – suggested using rice powder and @su_la_table mentioned using cooked rice. To be truly scientific I did both. Rice powder worked the best and gave a more even finish. But cooked rice also works, just not as smoothly. Several people suggested soaked poha- pounded rice – but I didn’t get that far with my experiments. Next potato recipe for sure! Had I read ahead in “Mom’s Golden Book”, Mom herself had put a note below on the next page “If your potato kachories or cutlets break during frying toss them in besan (chickpea flour), maida (flour) or egg batter before frying.” Oops! So I learned to read ahead, and to trust all the food intelligence out there in the IG and blogger community! And to trust Mom!
Mom’s Recipe # 4 – Potato and Coconut Kachories
4 medium sized potatoes (about 500g)
½ cup fresh grated coconut
2 teaspoons lime juice – around juice of one lime
1 green chilies, chopped
½ bunch green coriander- chopped fine (about 5-6 tablespoons)
10-12 raisins, chopped
a pinch of sugar
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
3 tablespoons rice flour
3/4 teaspoon salt – divided
250ml of ghee or oil for frying
Cover potatoes with water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Allow potatoes to boil uncovered for 20 minutes or until soft when poked with a knife. Allow to cool, peel and roughly chop. (Don’t overbuilt the potatoes, because if skins break, and the potatoes absorb water, they will get soft and soggy.)
In the mean time to fresh grated coconut, add 1 teaspoon lime, cut green chilies, chopped coriander, ¼ teaspoon salt, raisins and sugar.
Add remaining lime juice, cumin powder, rice flour and ½ teaspoon salt to potatoes and mash until potatoes are smooth.
Make a small ball of potatoes, flatten and put a little coconut mixture inside.
Roll into a ball. DO this with all remaining mashed potatoes.
Heat ghee/oil in a wok or frying pan on medium heat. Put in a few balls and lower heat. Allow to fry, gently rolling balls until done, about 4-5 minutes. Fry all balls this way.
Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Serve warm with mint chutney or ketchup.
Serves: 4 as a snack, about 12-14 pieces
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Critical Ingredients: Good quality, starchy potatoes are a definite critical ingredient. You can use cornstarch (and many people do) and still get good results, but I find cornstarch and arrowroot give a gluey taste. I prefer rice powder. If you allow the potatoes to boil for too long, and the peel cracks, the potatoes will absorb water and will not stay intact while frying. An alternative is to microwave potatoes so they don’t absorb water.