food talk
Chips with a desi twist
Pushpesh Pant 

Not too long ago, munching manically on jackfruit chips brought by a Malayali friend, we began to fantasise about crispy kathal spiced up with North Indian chaat masala like sprinklers, a crossover, or hybrid if you please, between a snack and sukhi sabzi. When the sabziwala, who takes early morning rounds in our locality with his pushcart, tempted us with hard prickly skin removed, pre-cut jackfruit pieces neatly packed, we couldn't resist any more.

The results have left us pleased as punch and we are not diffident about unveiling this beauty. It can easily become the piece de resistance in a vegetarian thali. Just resist the temptation to pressure-cooking the poor thing. This recipe also demolishes the myth that kathal can only be tasty when doused in artery-choking oil and draped heavily with onion, garlic and meat masala. What is required is a little pre-cooking preparation, cutting the bite-sized pieces thinly with a sharp knife and slowly frying these in a wok-like pan, with minimal oil keeping a hawks eye as they turn deliciously brown and crisp. The "seeds," with contrasting texture and nutty taste, add an unexpected delight. Enjoy this "orthodox" shaakahari specialty without any guilt.


Cut the kathal into bite-sized pieces. Heat oil in a pan till smoking point, reduce flame and put in the kathal. Fry on low flame, stirring occasionally till well browned and crisp. Sprinkle the powdered spices and salt. Mix well. Add the butter, if using, and toss the kathal pieces lightly to glaze and enrich them.

Kurkure kathhal 

Kathal 250 g
Mustard oil cup
Jeera powder ground with freshly roasted seeds 1 tsp
Anardana powder 1 tsp
Pepper powder tsp
Black rock salt tsp
Butter (optional) 2 tsp