Edited by Arnav Diwan
Diwali season is here again and I, for one, am very excited. It is my absolute favourite time of the year. I love the way homes seem to come alive and people gain that extra spring in their step. Doorways are adorned with different kinds of hangings and baubles, Rangoli is beautifully laid out on floors and of course, candles drive darkness away from every nook and cranny. Friends and families visit each other for days, bringing them gifts, conversation and laughter. The scent of various spices and sweet dishes drifts out of the kitchen all day, causing everyone to wander in and out in anticipation.
Diwali is a festival that reminds us of our sense of community and belonging. Unfortunately, in the time of COVID and social distancing, staying connected with people outside of the home is difficult. However, I feel that this Diwali is actually going further in pushing us to work together as a unit—whether it be with friends, flatmates, or family. Hosting a Diwali party between our close neighbours might be a good way to make that happen!
The one essential element for a successful Diwali party has always been the food. The perfect snack is one that is easily made, easily eaten (we don’t want it to be too messy!) and obviously, delicious. One of my family’s favourites is Aloo Bonda. My mom makes it every year and it’s always a hit. The recipe is extremely simple and the process of making it can be a fun activity to do with friends!
To make enough for 8 people, when there are other snacks as well, all you need is 1 kg potatoes, 2 medium sized Onions, 2 green chillies, coriander (as required), 1 or 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 4 slices of white bread, salt and black pepper to taste.
How to make it? Begin by boiling the potatoes. Once that’s done, cool them down and put them in the fridge for a night. This allows any moisture from the potatoes to dry up and they become harder. The next day, peel the potatoes and grate them (tasks made all the easier due to refrigeration). Now, take the slices of white bread and put them in the mixie until they become crumbs. Leave that aside for later and turn your attention back to the potatoes. Finely chop the onions, green chillies and the coriander. Add them to the potatoes along with the black pepper, salt and lemon juice. Then, put in the bread crumbs. Mix the dough properly. Using your hands to mix is always a better idea. Think of it like kneading vegetables into the dough! Plus, isn’t getting in there and really working the dough half the fun of cooking?
The next part is the truly fun part of this process. Once the dough is ready, you—and everyone else in the house—need to shape it into bondas. You take a bit of dough (how much you take depends on the size of bonda you’re going for) and roll it between your palms to form a ball. Then, flatten it slightly to get a plump, patty-like shape. My younger sisters and I usually do this together; we sit at the dining table, play loud music and get to rolling aloo bondas for my mother. It’s a good time for us to just sit and talk because our schedules are so different. Even though we live in the same house, we don’t often get the chance to talk to each other.
After all the dough has been used up, put the bondas in the fridge for a minimum of half an hour. You can leave them in there for more time—=4-5 hours is the maximum limit. Take them out of the fridge a little bit before when you want to eat or serve them. To get the bondas ready, all you need to do is fry them in medium hot oil. You can serve them with ketchup, green chutney or some other kind of dip.
Aloo bonda is a very versatile dish. You can eat it plain, as I talked about above. But you can also eat them between bread like a sandwich or a burger. They even form a great base for other chaats like tikki chole. It’s a great party food: easy to make and most certainly yum!
This article is an HCAU x HC at UCLA Halloween and Diwali Collaboration! Be sure to check out the other articles on their site here: