Monsoons in India come with lots of monsoon bounties. Nature blooms & blossoms. Among many monsoon treats, one seasonal veggie is kantola. They are also known as teasel gourd or Indian gourd. Kantola season starts with the onset of monsoon and lasts for about 3-4 months. In northern parts of India they're available in abundance but they do not grow abundantly in South India. (Read more about kantola.)
Hence, this seasonal veggie is adored & is much sought after by the Konkani community. Konkani's loveeee phagil ! Phagil is the Konkani name for kantola/teasel gourd. No matter how much they cost Konkani's will buy them. That's the love we have for teasel gourds.
Konkani cuisine includes a variety of dishes prepared using kantola. We prepare:
kantola coconut based side dish (called as phagla sasam in Konkani),
kantola pickle, chutney (called as phagla koot in Konkani) and
Kantola is also used in various coconut based curries along with other vegetables like in gajbaje ambat.
Kantola fritters - Phagil bajo/phodi in Konkani
A spicy rice batter is used to deep fry kantola. These spicy batter coated, deep fried kantola are absolutely delicious. They are a little crisp on the outside & are soft on the inside. They make an amazing starter or side for lunch & dinner.
You can also shallow fry these rice batter coated kantola slices if you are too health conscious. They're prepared that way too.
P.S: Phodis of Konkani cuisine are starters or sides, prepared by shallow frying or deep frying veggies.
Kantola is one veggie that tastes delicious on shallow frying or deep frying. I just loved shallow fried, salted kantola. They are diced, salted & are shallow fried to make the above mentioned Konkani cuisine dishes. But most of the time I would have emptied shallow fried kantola long before the dish is prepared. The moment they're shallow fried, they just vanish. ;) :) They're that delicious.
Here's the recipe to make yummy, spicy, teasel gourd fritters:
2-3 Teasel gourds/kantola
1/2 cup rice (any medium grained rice - sona masuri or dosa rice or any other)
6-7 dried red chillies
Half a lemon sized tamarind
A pinch of crystal asafoetida (optional)
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Frying time: 10 minutes
First soak rice for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Prepping kantola (phagil):
1. Wash and chop off the stem portion & bottom portions of kantola. Chop each kantola into thin slices.
2. Add salt to the slices, toss them well and keep them aside for 15-20 minutes.
During this time kantola takes up salt and gives out water. This step helps kantola get a litte soft and fastens its cooking on deep frying. You can skip this step but you'll see the difference in the texture & taste of fritters/phodis.
Preparing the batter: After 30 minutes of soaking time prepare the rice batter.
1. Wash the rice grains well until the water runs clear. Drain out all the water completely.
2. Grind soaked rice with dried red chillies, tamarind and salt into a smooth paste using just enough water as needed to make a paste.
The batter has to be semi-thick, so be careful while adding water. Do not add excess water.
Do not add excess salt to the batter as you have already added salt to the teasel gourd slices.
3. Trasfer the ground rice batter into a bowl. Add crystal asafoetida melted in water and mix well.
4. Add little water if required to bring the batter to a semi-thick consistency. The batter has to be in between thick and dripping thin. If it's too watery it'll drip off from the kantola slices and won't stick to it.
If the batter's runny, then thicken it by adding gram fllour little & little. Mix well such that there are no clumps.
5. Heat up the oil for deep frying.
6. Meanwhile, squeeze the kantola slices to remove any excess water present in them.
7. Add kantola slices one by one into the rice batter and coat them well with the batter.
8. Once the oil is rolling hot, add in kantola slices coated with rice batter into the oil one by one.
9. Fry them until they change colour completely and are nicely fried.
10. Transfer them onto a blotting paper and serve them hot. They make a delish starter, side for lunch, dinner.
Find more fritter (bajo, phodi) recipes of Konkani cuisine here.
Tags: evening snacks, vegetarian, sides, fries, fritters, teasel gourd, Phagil, phagla phodi, bajo, lunch, dinner, kantola, Konkani recipe, Konkani dish, Konkani cuisine, Udupi cuisine, Mangalore food, Konkani food, side dishes, starters.
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