There are many in Kolkata whose evenings will remain dry without a bite into alur chop. At one point, I was very regular to a small makeshift stall nearby our home that sold lip-smacking evening snacks like alur 'chop', Beguni, Egg Devil and pakodas of different varieties. Yes, I know it was not a very healthy habit to munch on deep fried oil greased fritters every day, but then I used to be rail thin and no matter what I ate nothing stuck to my body, no trace of weight :) ....the reason being I used to be very much physically active, always walking and scurrying around. The student life in India is pretty stressful with relentless academic pressure, tuitions, classes, homework; you don't have a moment of respite. Managing all at once is not easy, added to fact of my home being far from my college and all tuitions were scattered around the city. So I was on the move all day long.
Anyway, I was talking about that makeshift chop stall and the chop maker whom I used to devour with my eyes in amazement at his skill of catering to about 30-50 customers at once, one after another in practiced hands. Most of the time while returning home from my English tuition class, I would stop by the stall waiting at least half an hour in the queue to get my turn to place order. Awestruck, I would stare at the man dipping perfectly shaped potato discs into a bowl of batter and deep frying them in a giant metallic wok blackened with burnt marks accumulated over the years. The beautiful smell of the freshly fried 'chops' would stir turmoil within my stomach arousing an urgent desire to satiate the craving. To give a final touch he used to add a sprinkling of rock salt (bit noon) on to the potato 'chops' before wrapping them into a paper packet. Each morsel of the steaming hot 'chops' was truly divine.
Ingredients :( make around 9 alur chops) Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
ü 1 large potato (boiled and mashed)
ü 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
ü 1 tsp roasted coriander powder
ü 3 dry red chillies
ü A pinch of baking soda
ü 4-5 green chillies (finely chopped)
ü 1/2 tsp kalo jeera or kalonji or nigella seeds
ü 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
ü Salt to taste
ü 1 cup besan or gram flour
ü 1 heaped tbsp rice flour
ü Few tablespoons of water
ü White oil for deep frying
1) In 1 tbsp of oil, roast the dry red chillies and grind them into powder in a food processor.
2) Heat 2 tbsp of oil. When oil turns hot, add nigella seeds and allow them to crackle. Add mashed potato, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, roasted dry red chilli powder, green chillies and salt. Mix in.
3) Using a masher, mash the potatoes uniformly, turning sides. Continue doing it for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and bring the mixture to room temperature.
4) Meanwhile, make a thick batter of smooth consistency using gram flour, rice flour, baking soda and few tablespoons of water.
5) When potato mixture comes down to room temperature, using your hands make small balls out of it and keeping between your palms, flatten them.
6) Dip the potato discs into the batter and coat evenly on all sides. Deep fry on medium high heat.
7) Serve hot with puffed rice or with any favorite salad of yours.