The Anatomy of a Pakoda: What Really Goes Into This Desi Delicacy

If you think chai is the one thing that Indians cannot live without, you are forgetting chai’s trusty companion: pakodas.

While videsis come up with innovative names for pakodas (some call them ‘fritters’) and desis debate BJP President Amit Shah’s remark that selling pakodas is meaningful employment, we decided to enquire what really makes this desi delicacy.

Hint: It’s not what you think.

Growing up, my Delhi evenings were sufficiently filled with my father’s call of “Aaj pakode ho jayen (let’s have pakodas today).” In no time, my mother would set up the kadhai and a steaming plate of these deep-fried snacks would appear, only to be emptied in record time.

When my mother would mention my father’s new year resolution to eat healthier, he would simply point to the veggies inside the pakoda to say that he is living by his promise, though with a slight twist.

Also Read: ‘Pakodas’: Back Where They Belong, On Your Plates, Not Politics

Pakodas continue to be the perfect small talk snacks when relatives decide to descend on a short notice. They’re also the perfect treat-snacks that can guarantee you instant popularity at the office.

The bread pakoda has come to represent college life in popular imagination, thanks to Bollywood. Remember the scene in Band Baaja Baaraat (2010) where Bittoo and Shruti devour a plate of bread pakodas while discussing their ‘binness’ (business) idea?

Besides bread, pakodas are also made with onions, cauliflower, paneer (soft cottage cheese), spinach, eggplant, and potato. Many also enjoy fish and chicken pakodas.

Pakodas are spiced with masala (mixed spices), swad anusar (according to taste), which, believe it or not, is India’s favourite and handy scale of measurement.

Pakodas come in all shapes and sizes and are referred to as fakkura, bhajiya, bhajji and ponako in different parts of the country.

What’s in a name, right? The pakoda, in all its avatars, represents what it means to be #Basic when it comes to desi-ness.

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