Last weekend, since I was planning on frying, I decided to make watercress pakodas. This was a dish that my aunt loves. Apparently, she and my uncle would go across town to specific stand in one of the busiest markets in Bombay for these pakodas.
My uncle was very particular about food. He did the majority of the marketing. He knew how to spot the best mango; which stands cheated you; and when each vegetables were in peak season. I lived a world away from him, so I saw my uncle very rarely, but I still have strong memories of him. He was one mean Uno player and he purchased me my first kitchen (even if it was only 4 inches high.) And, when we would stumble out of the Bombay airport, exhausted and disoriented by the radical shift to our senses, and look into the sea of unfamiliar faces, he would be standing there in his crisp khaki pants and polo shirt, smiling. Anyway, enough of the memories, onto the food.
So, the one time I went across town to feast on these storied watercress pakodas, the stand was sold out. So, I made the same batter of besan flour and water that I would use in cabbage fritters. This was then mixed with 3/4 cup julienned watercress leaves, 1/4 diced onions, and 1/4 cup diced asparagus (my own addition.) I paired this with a coconut, watercress flower chutney.
It was not at all as wonderful as eating fresh pakodas on the street with my family, but it really made due.