Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kumro Phool Bhaja, Pumpkin Blossom Bengali Tempura

Where else will you find pumpkin blossoms in Toronto?


From that same old Chinese lady who does not understand English. But she and I still talk. Since I cannot understand what she says in Mandarin, I resort to Bengali with her, “Didima, kumro phool koto kore?” (Grandma, how much for the pumpkin blossoms?)

“One dow-laar,” she’d say aloud and gesture by raising her index finger. She’d shake her raised finger a few times, till I nod and give her a loonie.

Our transaction is complete. I walk away. By now, I know that she doesn’t like people loitering around or taking photographs of her sitting on her folding chair by the Spadina sidewalk. They invariably get hit by the handle of her umbrella. And if you think I am making all this up, try dilly-dallying the next time around a very, very old Chinese lady in a sedge hat.

IMG_1057 Six freshly plucked Pumpkin Blossoms for a dollar! I do not recollect having Kumro Phool Bhaja in my adult life. When Mum made it during those rare days that she did find them in the bajaar or some neighbor gave her a bunch, I’d ignore these pedestrian fritters darting for her chingri or fish dishes only.

IMG_1054But my sensibilities have changed now. For the better I think. I had never handled pumpkin blossoms, so I quickly got to work and requested for suggestions around them on Facebook. But looked like India was sleeping, as was my Mother. I relied on what was available next – my common sense.

I cut the stems off each blossom, removed the “stigma” from inside each blossom. I soon realized that the pumpkin blossoms have fine little hairs, which can become a little prickly. But overcoming them is not a big deal.

Give them a good wash in a colander and drain. They are now ready to become deep-fried wonders!

Ingredients for Kumro Phool Bhaja or Pumpkin Blossom Fritters/Tempura are:

6 pumpkin blossoms
Quarter cup besan/gram flour
1 tablespoon rice flour
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
Pinch of baking powder
Half teaspoon turmeric
Oil for deep frying (Mustard works well, but you can use vegetable or Canola)

Make a batter with the besan, rice flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, turmeric and salt.

Heat oil in a wok.

IMG_1084 Dip the blossoms in the batter and straight into the hot oil. Fry them until crisp. The rice flour adds a crunch to the fritters, which besan alone cannot do.

Listen to the seductive sound of deep frying while you are on with these blossoms. It does not take more than a couple of minutes on each side to get these fritters/bhaja ready.

IMG_1085 IMG_1086Remove the fritters with a slotted spoon. Drain excess oil on paper towels and serve immediately!

IMG_1089 These fritters are excellent on their own or served with a Bengali meal. It goes well with rice and daal.


GB said...

I've never had those. they look very appealing (to the eye, and I'm sure they taste great too).

I hope one day I'll grow old and be able to bat people away with my umbrella. She sounds adorable. ;)

The knife said...

Preeee, I woke up this morning and thought that I'll catch up on some writing. And that's when I saw this post. Can't tell you how thrilled I was. Didu introduced me to kumro'r fool bhaaja. I was bemused by the concept. And then loved it. Haven't had it anywhere else. I could taste the sweetness of the flower danceing with the salt of the batter mix as I saw the pictures. Thanks so much for this post. You will make a great granny. You know that I mean that as a compliment :)

Pinku said...

Such a lovely post...

and knife is would make an excellent granny..

infact almost wish you were mine...

Will go home and harangue mom for some of this...problem in delhi is being able to find flowers :(

Priya said...

I never had anything with pumpkin blossom, this dish sounds very interesting..

Sayantani said...

ha ha love that chinese lady. here my Andhra maid doesn't understand a single word I tel her in english, hindi so after trying hard in miming now I also have resorted to Bengali. now we are doing fine too. love the kumro ful bhaja. amar maa majhe majhe stuff kore banay. khub bhalo lage setao.

Satya said...

kumro phool bhaja looks very delicious ,i had once in my friends place n i know it tastes awesome ..yummy


PreeOccupied said...

@GB, if you get zucchini flowers there, get some. They can battered and deep fried in the same way!

@The Knife, thanks for elevating me. I hope I can match your expectations set already.

@Pinku, I have a feeling, am going to crumble under peer pressure some day. Try sourcing Kumro Phool in CR Park...? Or some neighbor's...

@Priya, thank you!

@Sayantani, I have had some funny experiences with non-Hindi speaking people in Bangalore too.

@Satya, am glad you liked it.

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

same here... never tried it growing up; know miss it...
Its amazing how taste buds change, especially if you don't get them...

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Pree
Just reminded me of childhood days. How I long to eat them again,my mom used to make it sweet, I mean Jaggery added to the batter.