When you move away from home to another city, you find yourself mentally prepared to the fact that you will miss a few comforts that you have grown up with. The magnitude of your situation although acute doesn’t trouble you so much because there is always a possibility for a short return trip. But when you move to a different country altogether, seven seas away, the separation pangs take a new meaning altogether.
You miss every single thing in its minutest details, things that you never paid attention to, things that never mattered when you were there or things that held a special place in your heart. You miss your favorite spot in your house. You miss your father’s booming voice; you miss your mother’s reprimand, the way she smelled of love and warmth. You miss fighting with your sibling and the pleasure of sharing things.
But most importantly you miss the food, food that you shared as a family, food that used to bring you together. And for me, that is something that constantly reminds me of time that has stayed etched in my memory. I miss so many things I grew up eating, many of those are now just a memory as either I don’t have a recipe for them or the fact that I cannot find the right ingredients to make them. I hate how when the urge to recreate a dish that my mother made takes over me I can never get hold of the things I need. And then I have to resort to shortcuts and the final dish never tastes the same.
Like when I make these “Zucchini & Carrot Koftas”, which are a Jugad (alternative) for the “Lauki ki Kofte” (Bottle Gourd Fritters) that my mother would so skillfully make for us. Grated Bottle Groud would be maneuvered with deft fingers to be shaped into balls which would be deep fried till crispy and then at the last minute just before serving would be dunked into a spicy tomato sauce. The Koftas would soak up the Sauce without being too mushy and taste delicious. Let me admit that the Carrot and Zucchini do not make a poor substitute for bottle gourd, and the resulting dish is something that we enjoy.
The best thing is that you can make the Koftas in advance and freeze them and reheat before use. They can also be stuffed in bread with some chutney as a good breakfast option. One of my favorite childhood dishes recreated right here in Australia. The Koftas are light and crispy and the gravy flavorful just as I remember.
Recipe (Makes 8 – 10 Koftas. Cooking time 40 minutes)
For the Koftas
Two medium sized Zucchinis
One large Carrot
One tsp freshly grated Ginger (Do not use bottled Ginger)
One tsp Bishop’s Weed (Ajwain)
2 tbsp Gram Flour (Besan), you may need a bit more if you feel the Koftas are not binding well together
One tsp red Chilli powder
1/2 tsp Cumin powder
1/2 Tbsp freshly chopped Coriander
Salt to taste
Vegetable Oil to fry the Koftas
Grate the Zucchini and Carrot together and squeeze all the water from the vegetables as much as you can. This is crucial as the Koftas will fall apart when frying if the water is not squeezed well.
Mix all the ingredients together into a smooth wet dough. Do not add any extra water; the vegetables will release water as you press everything and will help bind them. (Add 1/2 tbsp of Gram-flour if needed)
Make 10 small portions of the dough and quickly shape them into medium sized balls.
Deep fry in hot oil till evenly brown on all sides.
Drain on a kitchen towel and keep them aside.
For the Gravy
2 Bay leaves
2 Green Cardamoms
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 Star Anise
1 green chili
1 tsp Ginger paste
1 tsp Garlic paste
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Red chili powder
1 tsp Coriander powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp Vegetable Oil
Freshly chopped Coriander
Blanche the Tomatoes in hot water for 10 minutes and cool before making a Puree with the Green chili.
Heat oil in a pan.
Add the Bay leaves, Cumin Seeds, Ginger Garlic paste, Star anise Cardamons and Cloves.
Lower the flame and gently add the Tomato Puree and let it cook till the oil separates.
Add the Red chili powder, Salt, Turmeric powder and Coriander powder and cook for five more minutes.
Add 1 cup of hot water and bring to a boil letting it simmer gently for a few minutes.
When ready to serve take the gravy off the heat and add the Koftas in it with some fresh Coriander sprinkled on top.
Serve hot with Peas Pulao or Naan.