The sub-continent’s favourite snack with a deliciously meaty twist.

It is impossible to overstate the impact of the Tagore family on the Bengali way of life. Even after two centuries, the Tagores define every aspect of what it means to be a Bengali—be it music, literature, art, philosophy, politics, or food.

Rabindranath grew up in a household with a deep knowledge of ancient Hindu as well as Islamic traditions. He travelled all over the world, imbibing the best aspects of every culture he encountered. He loved collecting menu cards and recipes from dinners and lunches on his travels. He would bring them back to his wife, Mrinalini, and request that the recipes be incorporated into the repertoire of the Tagore kitchen. According to accounts, some of his experiments with food were downright whimsical (pureed-garlic fritters, anyone?)

Indira Devi Chaudhurani (daughter of Satyendranath Tagore) was one of Rabindranath’s favourite nieces. Indira, among many of her achievements, went on to put tunes to close to 200 of her uncle’s songs. She did not herself cook. But she used to collect their household recipes and put them down in a diary. Purnima Devi, another Tagore family decedent, finally put these recipes, and some more of her own, into a book called Thakurbarir Ranna. With Rabindranath’s birth anniversary coming up on 25 Boishak (9 May), and given the bard’s love for kababs of all kinds, we thought of recreating this unusual take on the wildly popular Indian snack, dahi vada.


COOKING TIME 1 hour
YIELDS 12 boras


Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
FOR THE FRITTERS
300 g Beef or mutton keema (mince)
85 g Onions (finely chopped)
4 pcs Green chillies (finely chopped)
1 tsp Shahi garam masala powder
5 g Salt
90 g Potatoes (boiled and peeled)
30 g (or half an egg) Beaten egg
FOR THE TOPPING
150 g Yoghurt
2 g Mint leaves (finely chopped)
¼ tsp Bhaja masala
2 g Salt
5 g Sugar
½ tsp Ghee (melted)
1 tbsp Tamarind sauce

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl
  • Kadai | frying pan
  • Jhhajhhri hata | perforated spoon

Appliances

  • Stove
  • Grinder

Method

STEP I—PREPARE THE TOPPING

  1. In a bowl, add the yoghurt, chopped mint leaves, bhaja masala, 2 g salt, and 5 g sugar. Beat together till everything is well combined.
  2. Cover and leave it in the refrigerator to chill.

STEP II—PREPARE THE KOFTAS

  1. Set a pan on medium heat and add 15 g vegetable oil to it.
  2. Once the oil is hot, add 60 g of the finely chopped onions. Fry till they turn golden in colour (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add 2 green chillies, finely chopped, and fry them for another minute.
  4. Next, add the minced meat. Using your spatula, break up the lumps in the mince.
  5. Stir in 5 g of salt and 1 tsp of Shahi garam masala powder powder.
  6. Cover and cook the mince on medium heat, till it is tender, for about 6 minutes (if using beef keema), or 15 minutes (if using mutton keema).
  7. If your mince is particularly fatty, scoop out the excess rendered fat till the keema appears dry.
  8. Transfer the cooked mince to a grinder jar and blitz in short pulses till it is completely smooth. Since the keema is dry, this process might take some time and patience. Scrape down the sides of the jar every so often and pulse again till smooth.
  9. Once the mince is perfectly ground, transfer it to a mixing bowl.
  10. Add the boiled potatoes and mash them in.
  11. Also add half a beaten egg, 2 chopped green chillies, and 25 g chopped onions. Combine everything until you have a dough-like mixture.
  12. Portion the mixture into 12 balls, each weighing 30 g. Press each ball in your fist to compact the ground mince. Then, roll it between your palms to form a smooth, crack-free ball.
  13. In a frying pan, heat vegetable oil, about 4-cm deep.
  14. Fry the balls till they are brown. Since the mince is already cooked, these koftas brown very quickly (in under a minute), so be prepared to extract them from the oil accordingly.
  15. Drain from the oil and set aside.

STEP III—ASSEMBLY

  1. Melt some ghee in the microwave or on the stove. Get the yoghurt mixture out of the fridge.
  2. In individual serving bowls, add the fried koftas. Drizzle some melted ghee on them. Top with generous portions of the beaten yoghurt mixture and a few dollops of tamarind sauce. Garnish with some chopped mint leaves, and serve immediately. (Remember that while serving, the boras should be hot, and the yoghurt, cold.)