Alu Kachauri, Birla Balika Vidyapeeth Pilani (BBVP) Style
Alu Kachuri, Birla Balika Vidyapeeth Pilani (BBVP) Style
Late Shri Hari Singh, Head Cook at BBVP
Not from Mamta: Shri (Mr.) Hari Singh ji is the head cook at Birla Balkia Vidya Peeth, one of the best boarding school for girls in northern India, which I had the fortune to attend for 4 years in my school days, in mid to late 1950s. The food there was excellent, but this kachauri was one thing that I never forgot about and have been trying to get the recipe for. I tried it many times, but never got the elusive taste. Finally, I got the recipe from Ms Vijayashree Singh, whose mother, late Mrs. Krishna Singh, used to be our warden all those years ago. I have finally caught the elusive taste of it!
These kachauries are cooked in mustard oil, which is not banned for human consumption in many western countries like USA, Canada and EU, due to its erucic acid content. Rape seed oil is probably the next best oil to use.
Makes approximately 10
350 gm. potatoes
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. chilli powder
1 tsp. coriander powder/ground coriander seeds
1 tsp. coarsely ground fennel/saunf seeds
For Tarka or tempering of the filling
2 tsp. Mustard/Rapeseed oil. If you can get food grade mustard oil, it gives a nice taste to these kachauries.
A good pinch of asafoetida/Hing powder/small grains
350. gm chapatti flour
2 tbsp. oil
1 level tsp. or less salt
Water at room temperature
Oil for deep frying, at least 500 ml. They should float freely in oil to help them fluff up.
Boil potatoes in their skin. Indians mostly boil potatoes without peeling, peeling after they are cooked and cool. This keeps the potatoes from breaking up. I boil mine in a microwave steamer, on full power for 10-12 minutes. If potatoes are very large, cut them in halves.
Cool, peel and mash potatoes.
Add salt and spices, as listed. Mix well into the potatoes.
Heat tarka oil in a ladle, add asafoetida. Once it floats to the surface and you get the distinctive aroma of frying asfoetida, pour it over the potatoes.
Mix everything up till evenly mixed. Keep aside.
Place flour, oil and salt in a bowl. Rub the oil into the flour, so it looks crumbly.
Add water slowly and knead it into a firm…ish dough. Kachauri dough is firmer than chapatti dough, because dusting flour is not used to roll them out. Oil is used instead. Dusting flour will burn during deep frying, giving them a burnt taste and smell.
Cover and keep aside for an hour or so. Give another knead before cooking, to smooth out the dough.
Making the Kachauries
Start heating the oil on a wok/karahi. It should be medium hot, not smoking hot.
Make small balls of the dough. I usually make one at a time, as I go along, but you can make them all at once. If it is a warm day, keep them covered with a moist cloth.
Put a drop of oil around the ball and roll it out to about 8 cm./3inch diameter.See picture.
Place a tablespoon of the potato mix in the centre. Don’t be overgenerous with the filling, or they will burst during frying. Pull the edges in and press/seal them, to make a stuffed ball.
Cover the ball in a thin film of oil and gently roll it out to 14-16 cm./6 inch diameter, taking care not to burst it.
To test whether the oil has reached the right temperature, drop a small blob of the dough into the oil. It should sizzle and rise to the top slowly.
Now gently slide the rolled kachauri into the oil. It will gently sizzle and rise to the top. Turn it over, gently coaxing it to fluff up by pressing on it gently. Cook on medium heat, so that it gets crisp. Do not be in too much hurry.
Once light brown, a bit more than golden, take it out, tilting to the side to drain excessive oil and put it on a kitchen paper towel.
Serve hot, with pickles of choice and a hot cup of tea or coffee.