My childhood memories are entangled with the distinct aroma of my grandmother’s special home-cooked Peas Kachoris (Bengali: Koraishutir Kochuris). Don’t miss the wonderful secret recipe towards the end!
Our lives revolve around the food we consume, prepare, and relish. Over the years, food has evolved into highly garnished dishes with fancy names. Its symbolism marks the socio-economic distinction within populations around the world. Recipes are characterized by the geography of a place and the historical kinship among communities.
Family recipes have earned a special, almost sacred place in the intimate relationship between us humans and the food on our plate. In Indian households, the secret sauce often lies in the special mixture of spices or that slight departure from mainstream recipes which makes it unique enough to compete with world-class Master-Chef-winning dishes.
The recipe I unpack in this article has all my childhood memories entangled with the distinct aroma of my grandmother’s special home-cooked peas kachori (Bengali: koraishutir kochuri).
Kachoris are one of the most famous lip-smacking snacks relished in Indian households. It is also a famous street food enjoyed by many office-goers and students at an affordable price. It is believed that there are more than seventy types of kachoris that are made across the country. Kolkata too became the warm home for this delicious gem. Majorly known as staple breakfast or an evening snack, the hot piping kachoris of Kolkata are best served with cholar dal (gram lentil) or aloor torkari (roughly explained as potato curry). There are multiple old shops in the streets and lanes of Kolkata that have been serving people delicious kachoris, popularly known as radhaballavi (stuffed with lentils) for decades.
Among the many varieties of Kachoris, Peas Kachori is the go-to dish during chilly winter days along with some spicy (jhal) aloo dum or dhokar dalna (made out of dal mashed and turned into small diamond shapes and cooked in a special gravy). This is the recipe that my maternal grandmother learned from her maternal aunt and now my sister and I are learning from her. The beauty of this recipe is that it comes as a perfect blend of taste and warmth because of the detailed steps that go into its preparation.
The nights we have peas kachori for dinner are always marked in the calendar as a reminder to keep meals light for the rest of the day. It is nothing short of a festival, with my family members placing bets on who can eat the most kachoris at the dinner table. People vs kachori! The whole process of preparing the dish creates a bonding moment for all of us as we get delegated specific tasks, either kneading or frying, or filling the stuffing with the end goal being to to satisfy the taste buds of the entire family.
My grandmother says the process was way more difficult during the time she learnt it from her aunt. Kachoris then were made using tools that were heavy and required a lot of bodily strength to create the perfect stuffing. The kitchen for my grandmother was her kingdom where she ruled over every ingredient to add her signature style to it. Even now, a lot of our home-cooked dishes are a result of her legacy which binds us as a family and as a group of people who have similar tastes when it comes to “Bangla Khabar” (Bengali food). This intimate relation between the spices in the dishes and the sense of belongingness is reflected in our identity as a person. The intentional choice of adding one ingredient is a symbol of distinguishing one’s unique identity from others. The conservation of that innate feeling makes a family what it is in its moments of joy. The aftertaste of the kachoris and the sense of familiarity it brings with it is what unites us as a familial unit.
Peas as ingredients are diversely used in various dishes across local and global cuisine. The sweetness of the vegetable and the ways it can be moulded into any dish makes it a highly desirable seasonal ingredient. From picnics to wedding ceremonies and other religious functions, all occasions during the winter season include peas kachori in their menu cards. The stuffing itself can become the filling for many other dishes like paratha, fried pakora or vada, patties, and rolls.
The playfulness of recipes is one of the key features which makes cooking an art and a platform for experimentation. The ownership of this recipe makes my grandmother a distinct persona and the dish represents her skills. The integral part of making something on our own and then letting others enjoy it creates the cushion of kinship. This is what makes cooking an incomparably beautiful yet labourious tasks in this world.
Grandma’s Special Kachori Recipe:
- Green Chilli
- Black cumin
- Fennel seeds
- Roasted White cumin
- White Oil
1. Add peas, chilli, ginger into the grinder to prepare a semi smooth mixture of the ingredients
2. Let it cool for sometime. Add some oil in the kadai and let it warm for a few minutes to add the prepared mixture. Fry it till the mixture becomes dried up. Add salt and sugar to the fried mixture as required. Take the mixture off the flame.
3. Prepare a masala by grinding roasted white cumin seeds, black cumin seeds and fennel seeds and mix it with the fried peas stuffing prepared earlier.
4. Let the stuffing cool off and then turn it into small balls which could be filled in for the kachori
5. Knead the maida using some oil, salt, sugar and water as required. This is called moin in bangla. Keep the kneaded maida on a plate and cover it with a bowl which creates a fluffy dough.
6. Divide the dough into small balls then use the stuffing balls to fill it in and start rolling it into smooth round (almost) shapes.
7. Pour ample amount of oil in a kadai to deep fry the kachoris. Heat the oil till it forms small bubbles and then put the rolled kachori into the kadai and fry it till it turns a little brownish.
8. The kachoris are now ready to be served with your favourite sabzi! (we prefer aloo dum).
Megha is a communications professional in a social enterprise working with the migrants of the country. A former graduate in Accounting & Finance, her interests lie in the livelihoods of informal waste workers and waste management. She runs a small initiative in Kolkata where she along with her team creates recycled outdoor settings for cafes and exhibitions by sourcing materials from a local recycler. You can find her new digital campaign @handsonwaste on Instagram which aims to cover the lives of waste workers across cities and helps citizens be more aware of it. You can reach out to her here.