Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Street Food Finds Its Way Home

Calcutta has an impressive liquid dictionary of street food. Every corner of an urban neighborhood will most likely have one famous guy who has probably been plating the best alu-kaabli or phuchka or jhaalmuri in town!

I know, I know…like any literate person, I should say Kolkata. But for me Kolkata will always remain Calcutta, just like Mumbai will forever be Bombay. Its the erstwhile names of the cities which if said in the same breath with the most local foods found on the streets, leaves a mouth-watering residue of tastes and memories.

Its these same memories that has egged me to write this one. I grew up in Patna, which has its own share of the veritable Bengali influence- from the streets to your home!

I was a notorious epicurean of street food and was guilty of literally eating off the hands of chaat-phuchka and roll walas. Even had incongruous longings to marry a phuchkawala at age 12! But was brainwashed by my Mum from doing so. I had no issues with hygiene and cleanliness, and pretty much had the stomach for any kind of spicy food from the roadsides. I specially longed the goli kebabs and meat cutlets from a small place where a really fat halwai doled out the best goli kebabs and mutton kabiraji I have ever eaten. It is however another story that most of his “high profile” customers were half-drunk, semi-conscious men on their way back home from a drinking binge.

My parents had strict rules about us NOT going to that place. I would bribe our driver to get me a take-home from there, and relish every little crumb from the brown paper bag with lip smacking arrogance.

I do not know if my Mutton Kabiraji is as good as the ones I used to have many years ago. But I have given it my best shot. Though I am rather unhappy with the quality of pictures I took while deep frying these cutlets.

For the Mutton “Kabiraji” Cutlets you will need":

500 gms mince meat (lamb/beef)
2 medium red onions thinly sliced
4-5 garlic cloves paste
1 inch ginger paste
4-5 green chilies finely chopped
Handful of coriander leaves chopped
Half teaspoon asafetida powder
2 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoon black pepper powder
2 teaspoon chaat masala
Pinch of sugar
Vegetable oil for deep frying
2 eggs
Bread crumbs

Mix meat, onions, garlic-ginger paste, chopped ingredients, chili powder, pepper powder, asafetida powder, salt and one egg. Use your hands to mash them up nicely. Add some chaat masala, sugar and salt mid-way of mixing all the ingredients. Check if the meat forms into tight balls (a little bigger than golf ball size). Balance the taste/ heat according to what you like. IMG_5678
IMG_5679 IMG_5680 IMG_5681IMG_5682 IMG_5684 IMG_5685IMG_5687IMG_5688 Make medium size meat balls and shape them as cutlets (oval shaped patties) between the palms of your hand. Heat oil while you are doing this. Prepare two dishes, one with a beaten egg and the other with bread crumbs. Dip each cutlet first in the egg batter and then roll it in the bed of bread crumbs. Now deep fry the cutlets till they turn into nice, golden browns. Serve hot with green chutney/ tomato ketchup and onion rings.

My Mum makes another variation by boiling the meat with the spices and garam masala first. I have tried that too and I think its a good option for people who have issues handling raw meat.
Cutlets_4P.S. A tip for people like me who can’t always get the right size to their cutlets is to fit your filling at the back of a small oval-shaped cheese grater and press tight with your fingers. The grater acts like a mould and your cutlets will be the same size and shape always. Impressive, eh?


Jaya said...

P! It came out well and I scored a full 100 from my baba (father-in-law). Mujh jaisi bahu logon ka isi tarah uddhar karti raho. Love

Poorna Banerjee said...

erm, the cutlet you have made is NOT Kabiraji, merely a cutlet, because KABIRAJI is not so without the puffy egg all around it. That's how it got the name, because it was covered with a layer of fluffy eggy stuff which is actually an egg whipped together with some water and salt. To turn these mutton cutlets into Kobiraji simply fry the cutlets and halfway through pour some of the egg on top and then turn and repeat on the other side.

Unknown said...

@Panu, good to know. Thanks for the feedback and the information. I will try doing that next time I make my mutton "kabiraji".