Pakodas - The irreplaceable delight

During a live cook-out session organised by The Imperial Culinary Club, Sangeeta Khanna – a health and food writer – demonstrated age-old recipes of pakodas that will never go wrong when it comes to snacking in Monsoon

While taking a trip down the memory lane, I recalled how me and my siblings used to gorge on the plate of hot and sizzling 'pakodas', as it rained outside. Served with ketchup-made smilies, it was the best of snacks that we craved for.

All those memories of childhood and the fresh taste of pakodas took me to a recently held event at The Imperial, New Delhi, where Sangeeta Khanna carried out a live cook-out session and launch of her new book on Pakodas. During the session, she demonstrated various lost recipes of pakodas and questioned why this Indian snack is reffered as 'unhealthy'?

"We are always told that pakodas are unhealthy because they are deep-fried but we enjoy eating cookies, which contain calories and are being stored for so many days. This is beyond my understanding" she said, adding, "I will show you why pakodas are the healthiest snack to have despite being deep-fried," Sangeeta said, as she started preparing her first dish.

I remember how the whole room embarked the journey of culinary experience with her and Chef Dharmendra – Sr Sous Chef, The Imperial.

While preparing the pakodas – chopping or frying – Sangeeta was trying to engage with the audience, telling them how the specific pakoda item is made, what is its speciality, what things should be kept in mind and many such essential details.

From well-known pakoda varieties like Tamatar Bond and Bhaap ki mongodi to interesting variations like Arbi Ke Patton ka rikwachh, Nariyal Katlika pakoda and Sehjan ke phoolon ka pakoda, the menu was a treat for taste buds.

The preparation process further generated curiosity in me to taste each of those little pieces of joy, and we got lucky to hop on pakoda platter thereafter.

Each dish had a peculiar taste which differentiated it from the rest. Some were just a heavenly experience for me like Arbi Ke Patton ka rikwachh – crispy, crunchy and tasty.

Then, it was nariyal, tamatar, and moong ki bhaap, which once again took me to surprise. Every bite of those pakodas spoke of Khanna's highly creative attempt and finely done research on all the delicacies.

For the cookout session, she directly sourced the organic ingredients from Tijara Farms – an organic farm spread across 10 acres in Rajasthan, the brainchild of Sneh Yadav and her husband, Col. Tara.

With the aim to bring back the old much-loved snack into the Indian kitchens, Sangeeta Khanna also launched her book 'Pakodas: The Snack for all Seasons' published by Westland. Present at the launch was Vijay Wanchoo, Senior Executive Vice-President and General Manager, The Imperial, New Delhi, and other guests.

Talking about how she conceptualised the book, Khanna said: "I decided to write it because I felt we were forgetting our culinary roots and also because I wanted to change negative image that pakodas have unfairly acquired in the diet-conscious society."

Vijay Wanchoo congratulated Sangeeta on launching her book and said, "We all know that Sangeeta is an acclaimed health and healing food writer, and her knowledge in the field of food is exceptional, which is why I am sure this book will be packed with insights that will make many revelations for its readers," he concluded.

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