There is an old nursery rhyme that ends with the line — “Wasn’t that a dainty dish to put before the king.” When the pie on the plate was sliced by a knife, four and twenty black birds flew out and began to sing. Believe it or not, a delicacy of this kind was served to Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary when he visited the Nizam of Hyderabad at the turn of the last century. The poor man was assassinated in 1914, triggering the first Great War and dragging down the entire world to an unprecedented catastrophe. The Archduke has written about the spectacular dish in his travel diary.
Now, you may wonder what has all this got to do with our shared interest in contemporary food. Suddenly, a number of masterchefs have started putting the ‘upside down’ raj kachori on their menu. The hollow inside the deep-fried raj kachori indeed provides space enough for a small bird to hide unharmed for a few moments before it can flutter its wings to freedom.
As all of us are well aware, the Amrit Kaal that we are living in is an ongoing celebration of vegetarianism and shri anna, earlier known as millets. So, it should surprise no one when the visiting state guests for the G-20 Summit were treated to avant-garde recipes that combined street food in a new avatar, millets-based goodies and plating that aspired to follow in the footsteps of Picasso.
We are inspired by our celebrity chef friends who performed on this occasion. It is easy to replicate the sensational presentation (although not entirely Indian) at home with little effort. You don’t even have to worry about deep-frying flawless raj kachoris. Many branded halwais are selling ready-to-eat crisp paani-puris in airtight packaging. These can easily be transformed into mini upside-down fusion golgappas. Your imagination is the only constraint on the variety of fillings. We strongly recommend that you avoid banal boiled chickpeas, diced potatoes and sonth-hari chutney. You could play around with vegetarian and non-vegetarian fillings, besides sweet as well as savoury stuffings, which can enrich these bite-sized goodies.
(preferably made with sooji)
Button mushrooms 25 gm
Oyster mushrooms 25 gm
Sun-dried tomatoes 2 tbsp
Prunes (pitted) 5-6
Fruit yoghurt 200 ml
Strawberry/blackberry preserve 2 tbsp
Mixed herbs seasoning A large pinch
Very fine sev (for garnish) 1 tbsp
Black peppercorns (powdered) To taste
Salt To taste
- Wipe and pat dry the mushrooms and mince finely. Sweat these on a thick-bottomed fry pan, lined with a thin film of oil. Else, stir-fry for 30 seconds. After the mushrooms release moisture, sprinkle salt and black pepper. Let the water evaporate and reserve the moist mushrooms for filling.
- Chop the prunes into very small dices. Similarly, chop the sun-dried tomatoes.
- Carefully cut out a small opening on the surface of the golgappa. Fill some golgappas with mushroom mince, and others with dried prunes and sun-dried tomatoes.
- Sprinkle the seasoning, salt and pepper very lightly on the filling. Carefully turn the golgappa upside down on a plate — four each for a person, two sweet and two savoury. Spread the fruit yoghurt on the plate in a thin girdle around the mini puris. Strawberry or blackberry preserve can substitute for sonth chutney. Garnish with a pinch of sev and serve.
- If you really get into the fusion mood, you can play around with a small measure of wasabi and honey mustard. This small plate dish can be made more substantial by placing thin layers of silken tofu below the yoghurt.