Food Stories/ Snacks/munchies/Quick Bites

Khambhati Daabda – Stuffed Potato Fritters

Khambhati Daabda – Stuffed Potato Fritters are indigenous to the region of Khambhat. They are a popular street food and can be easily made at home. If you have all the ingredients  handy  it does not take for than 30 minutes to dish out some piping hot  Daabda with a cup of masala chai. The Dabdaa are also part of the festive menu as much as they are enjoyed during rains.

The joy of bringing you this recipe has doubled cause it is shared by a person who hails from the region this dish originates and is passionate about its heritage, food and culture and takes immense pride in Khambhat. A month back I received series of message from one Sapan Gajjar, appreciating my efforts of scouting Shedki and recreating the dish. It was he who had got this dish included in the wiki page from where I had learnt about the existence of Shedki. We got chatting and he went on to share few more recipes that need to be shared with people outside Khambhat. In spite of living just 95 kilometers away from Khambhat,  I  am  yet to visit this scenic  town 😳. I requested Sapan to write about his region to which he agreed. The pictures of Khambhat, recipe of Khambhati Daabda, nuances to getting them right have all been shared by Sapan. I haven’t  tasted authentic Khambhati Daabda  so far but, have tried recreating them in my kitchen here in Singapore and capturing the spirit of this incredible dish from the recipe and description I received from Sapan.

Sapan Gajjar, is a young architect based in  Ahmedabad; who hails from Khambhat. Apart from practice in architecture & design, keeps a deep interest in reading, writing, travelling and exploring new places. Having done Academic thesis in architecture on Architecture of Khambhat, he has been able to draw out lot of information and inferences about the town; architectural, cultural and historical.

Khambhat, also known as Cambay, is located in central Gujarat, on the Arabian Sea. Historically, it was a major port on the West coast, which was on it’s peak in trade and commerce between 9th and 13th century. The port eventually became difficult to sail into, due to heavy siltation occurring due to Mahi river, which discharges into the Sea near Khambhat. The glory of Khambhat can be estimated from Marco Polo’s texts about the city when he visited Khambhat. Thus, Khambhat’s trade with different nations and continents (along with south & east Indian ports) brought in heavy influences from different places to the city. Also, in Gujarat, it stands at the centre of three different  geographic & cultural regions. Central Gujarat, South Gujarat and Saurashtra; one can even experience the mixture of these three cultures in Khambhat. Such beneficial and strategic location has given a lot to Khambhat. It’s evident to find reflections of different cultures in the Architecture and Cuisine of Khambhat. In terms of location and climate, Khambhat experiences very similar conditions to Surat; apart from soil type. Surat sits on the belt of black cotton soil, where Khambhat sits on rich alluvial soil. Wheat, Paddy, some millets as well as quite a some variety of vegetables grow around khambhat. Although, Khambhat region’s wheat and rice are famous across the state. Moist Winter due to dew is what makes Khambhat wheat unique.
Sea, brings moisture to the town, apart from travellers that it brought in the past. Such humid condition of weather is only found in coastal parts of Gujarat; most of mainland Gujarat including Saurashtra and Kutch experience dry and arid weather conditions. This special attribute along with presence of former port is what makes cases of Khambhat, Bharuch & Surat cities unique in Gujarat. Hence Khambhat is roughly located in Charotar region of central gujarat, where “Maatla Undhiyu” is eaten occasionally in winters; its because of rich agriculture and presence of green vegetables. Khambhat is famous for it’s certain food apart for this; especially sweets called Halvason & Sutarfeni. One can find the influence of local millets and cultivation in these sweets even. Chavaanu , Papad Chavaanu. Suka Bhajiya also adds into the must have list of Khambhat. These were famous because of port and people carrying such dry foods on their sea journey in the past. Suka Bhajiya, as is claimed, can be edible for the stretch of one month in the middle of the Ocean. Presence of Jains, Bohras, Muslims had always influenced food and culture in Khambhat. On one side, majority of town comprises of Hindus and Jains, who follow strict vegan diet; Fishing is one of the common sea activity here, catering to Bohras and Muslims with variety of Fish and Jhinga (prawns). Jhinga found in Khambhat are supposed to be famous in the region.
Shrikhand is most preferred and liked sweet by Khambhatis. Local manufacturers produce unique and really good shrikhand. A liquid variant of Shrikhand, Shedki, is a local variety and mostly been served in the meals of summer weddings. Hence, the overall food taste of Khambhat is balanced and ‘not so spicy’, some local communities prefer and consume spicy to very spicy food. This can be felt by the difference in ‘mag ni kachori’ that’s sold by different shops here. Mag ni kachori is one of the must have snack in Khambhat. Most of the shops sell very less spicy Kachori, there are few shops which serve very to extremely spicy Kachori which is high on green chillies. One more snack variety, local to Khambhat and surrounding villages is Daabda. A kind of Potato Bhajiya, with a spicy filling between two slices of potatoes. This dish can be found spicy to very spicy depending on the shop selling it.
Khambhat, with it’s forgotten glory, has always been losing it’s significance and has been understated. Where as, with it’s rich landscape and built-scape Khambhat holds history and story in evolution of lifestyle and culture in central Gujarat. With Rich architecture heritage and unique traditional culinary varieties Khambhat marks it’s importance. Also, different communities’ contribution (Bohras, Parsis, Muslims, Jains and Hindus) reflects in the evolution of Khambhat’s multifaceted culture.

Khambhati Daabda

Print Recipe
Serves: 3-4 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 1 heaped cup Gathiya (read notes)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut, desiccated
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon
  • 1 heaped teaspoon garlic, grated
  • 2 teaspoons ginger and green chili paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • Oil for deep frying
  • For the Kadhi Chutney
  • 1 tablespoon besan/chickpea flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger+garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice (adjust to balance the taste)
  • salt to taste
  • Pakora batter of your preference

Instructions

1

Prepare the pakora batter of your preference.

2

Wash and peel the potatoes.

3

Slice them to have medium thick slices.

4

Soak the slices in water till you prepare the stuffing.

5

In a processor or grinder, grind to gathiya to a fine powder.

6

Take a large bowl, add the ground gathiya and all the other ingredients except oil.

7

Mix well, the gathiya will ooze out oil, that will help you bind the stuffing.

8

Strain the potato slices and pair the slices equal in size.

9

Now place a small ball of stuffing on each potato slice and place another slice on it and press it gently.

10

Arrange them on a plate and continue until you have finished all the filling and potato slices.

11

Simultaneously, heat the oil for deep frying the Daabda.

12

Once you have done with stuffing the Daabda, proceed to frying them.

13

Dip each Daabda in the batter and carefully put it in the hot oil. Place 3-4 Daabda at a time.

14

Fry until golden brown on each side. Keep the flame to moderate.

15

Drain on a paper towel.

16

Serve hot with the Kadhi chutney and a cup of hot masala tea.

17

To make Kadhi

18

In a sauce pan mix the besan and water to a smooth lump free mixture.

19

Add rest of the ingredients and bring it to a boil. Continue to cook till it thickens like a thin sauce.

20

Remember to stir all the time.

21

Serve with Daabda.

Notes

The recipe uses gathiya because we need chickpea flour that is slightly roasted, by using gathiya do not need to roast the flour. The Pakora batter is very basic. Chickpea flour, water, chili powder, turmeric powder, a pinch of ajwain, a pinch of hing, salt, mix and soak for 15-20 minutes and before you dunk the daabda or any veggie add a teaspoon of hot oil that has heated for deep frying. Give it a quick stir. Try to keep the slices equal in thickness so they cook well. The thickness has to be moderate not to thin or not too thick.

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