These potato dumplings are from Maharashtra, a state where people love to eat very spicy foods. Though they are often eaten for breakfast, I usually ate Aloo Bonda as an after-school snack while I was living with my family in Nagpur in western India. Made from spiced mashed potatoes that are formed into balls and dipped into chickpea flour batter and then fried, Aloo Bondas are amazing when served with tomato chutney; though I admit that I love eating them with lots of ketchup too.
In Mumbai, you get them as street food smashed between two slices of bread with hot green chilli and garlic chutney. Nandini, a dear friend from southern India and now a consummate New Yorker, makes Aloo Bondas in advance and freezes them. She microwaves them alongside a glass of water to keep them moist. Be sure to save some of the filling to make Bread Roll as well if the mood so inspires.
For the filling
2 pounds (about 5 medium) – Red potatoes, peeled and quartered
½ tsp – Turmeric
1 tbsp + 1½ tsp – Sea salt
1½ tbsp – Neutral oil
2 tsp – Mustard seeds
24 – Curry leaves
3-6 – Dried red chillies, coarsely crushed
1-inch piece – Ginger root, peeled and minced
1 small – Hot green chilli (seeded and veined if you prefer a milder flavour), finely diced
Juice of ½ lime
For the batter
* Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes, turmeric and 1 tbsp kosher salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart, for about 25 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
* Heat the oil, mustard seeds and curry leaves in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the mustard seeds begin to pop, about 1½ minutes. Add the dry red chillies and cook until the curry leaves become brittle, about 1 minute longer. Stir in the ginger and chillies and cook for 30 seconds, then transfer the mixture to the potatoes.
* Mash the potatoes against the sides of the bowl until they are semi-smooth. Stir in 1½ tsp kosher salt and the lime juice. Take 2 tbsp of potato mixture and roll into a small ball, repeat with the remaining potato mixture and set aside.
* Heat the canola oil to 350°F (176.667°C) in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, make the chickpea flour batter. Whisk together the chickpea flour, cayenne pepper, remaining kosher salt and asafoetida in a small bowl. Whisk in enough water so it resembles a thick pancake batter. Dip each potato ball in the batter and roll in your hands to evenly coat. Gently drop the ball into the hot oil and fry until it is golden brown, turning and basting often, for about 3-5 minutes. Transfer the dumplings to a paper towel-lined plate and serve hot with tomato chutney or ketchup.
(The recipe makes about 20 potato dumplings.)