They come in many shapes and sizes — we have in mind the aloo tikkis. No self-respecting chaat seller can be without his own special filling. The variety presents an endless array of temptations — green peas, spicy lentil paste, cottage cheese, dried fruits and nuts or a melange of different ingredients.
It is not just the filling that makes (or mars) a tikki — the real art that has to be mastered is the sikai — gentlest frying on the griddle that ensures the sondhapan — how do you translate the fragrance of parched earth refreshed by the first shower of the monsoon?
It is amazing how aromas inhaled accidentally trigger a chain of long-forgotten memories. Recently, it was the wafting fumes from the tawa at the Aurobindo Place Market that transported us back to Nainital in the late 1950s when Panditji at the Flats near Nainadevi temple dished out a dazzling tikki fried in desi ghee. It seemed sacrilegious to douse it with chutney tasty as it was. (The larger size for the same price and with additional chole tempted only the gluttons to the Prem Restaurant a new kid on the block).
Nearly every town in the North has a popular outlet specialising in the patty that has the satisfaction of getting the better of the Mc Donald’s classic burger patty on the sub-continent.
Cutlet, that little appreciated but much abused child of Anglo-India, encountered at most unexpected places from hostel dinning halls to railway canteens and officers messes, tries valiantly to match the native beauty — assuming at times the form of a heart or a flattened cone but seldom makes its presence felt.
Studding with carrot dices and bean diamonds doesn’t help much either. Only in Kolkata when fashioned with mocha — the delicate plantain flower does it attain some distinction. But for us the savory mince filled aloo chop, created in Kolkata and blending the best of both worlds — veg and non-veg — remains the ‘champ’.
Tikki for the tastebuds
For potato mixture
Potatoes (boiled & mashed) 500g
White pepper powder 1/2 tsp
Fresh coriander (chopped) 1 tbs
Salt to taste
Kid/Lamb mince (single) 450g
Cheese (Processed/Cheddar; grate) 60g
Cooking oil 2 tbs
Butter 2 tbs
Onions (finely chopped) 60g
Garlic (finely chopped) 8 flakes
Ginger (finely chopped) 1" piece
Green chillies (seeded and chopped) 4-5
Salt to taste
Tabasco 1 tsp
Lemon Juice 2 tsp
Black pepper powder (coarse) 1 tsp
Eggs (beaten) two
Cooking oil to shallow fry pattie.
Method The potato mixture: Mix all ingredients in a bowl and divide into 16 equal portions, and make balls.
The filling: Heat oil and butter in a frying pan, add onions and garlic, saute over medium heat until translucent and glossy, add ginger and green chillies, and stir. Add the mince and salt, stir-fry until cooked (approx seven to eight minutes), sprinkling a little water, if necessary, to prevent sticking. Now add the remaining ingredients, except cheese, stir, remove, adjust the seasoning and cool. Now add cheese, mix well and divide into 16 equal portions.
Flatten each ball between the palms to make round patties, place a portion of the filling in the middle of each, seal, make balls again and carefully (ensuring that the filling does not ooze out) flatten into ¾" thick oval patties. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Remove the patties from the refrigerator, dip in egg, roll in breadcrumbs and keep aside.
Heat oil in a frying pan, add patties — in convenient batches — and shallow fry over medium heat until golden. Remove to absorbent paper to drain the excess fat.