Spice Up Your Super Bowl Snacks with Bengali Chaat

Keema (ground meat) and aloo (potato) chop (Bengali fried croquettes). Photo by Ishita Singh.

Keema (ground meat) and aloo (potato) chop (Bengali fried croquettes). Photo by Ishita Singh.

Super Bowl Sunday is tomorrow, and if you’re like me, your mind is on one thing: snacks.

Loaded nachos, tangy wings and cheesy dips always hit the spot, but this year my celebration will feature a type of Bengali chaat (snack food) called chop. These deep-fried croquettes, which are usually filled with vegetables, ground meat or fish, deliver all the fried goodness of traditional Super Bowl snacks—with a fiery Indian kick.

Keema chop, made with ground turkey (recipe below), features a traditional blend of Bengali seasonings for meat: garlic, ginger, tomato, turmeric, red chili powder, ground coriander seeds, ground cumin seeds and onion. The spiced meat is mixed with mashed potato to give it a carby boost.

For my vegetarian friends, I’ll be making aloo chop (recipe below), spicy mashed potatoes that are breaded and fried. Think of them as a Bengali version of potato pancakes.

Both types of chop are exactly what you want from a Super Bowl snack. They are rich and greasy and pair perfectly with an ice-cold beer (and a Giants win). Try them this weekend—you won’t be disappointed.

Keema (ground turkey) chop. Photo by Ishita Singh.

Keema (ground turkey) chop. Photo by Ishita Singh.

Keema Chop (Turkey Croquettes) Ingredients:
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic
Canola oil, for frying
1 pound ground turkey, rinsed and drained
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon sugar
Salt, to taste
1 jumbo egg
1 cup Panko (or bread crumbs)

Cooking Directions:
* Place the potato quarters in a large pot and fill it with water (to an inch above the potatoes). Salt the water, and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn down the heat slightly, and cook the potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes or until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain the water and let the potatoes cool.
* In the meantime, combine 1 Roma tomato, ¼ of the diced onion, the ginger and garlic in a blender or food processor, and make a paste.
* Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Then fry the other ¾ of the diced onion until browned (5 to 7 minutes). Add the rest of the chopped tomatoes and the ground turkey, breaking the meat into pieces with a wooden spoon.
* Add the paste from the blender, turmeric, red chili powder, cumin, coriander, sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt; stir well. Cook the turkey until it is browned and the oil separates (about 15 minutes). Taste the meat, and add more salt if necessary. Then let it cool.
* Mash the boiled potatoes into the meat, and shape the mixture into 16 golf ball–size spheres.
* In a shallow bowl, crack the egg and beat it well. In a separate shallow bowl, pour in the Panko (or bread crumbs). Dip each ball in the egg and then in the Panko, coating it thoroughly on all sides.
* Pour 4 inches of oil into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. (Test to see how hot the oil is by sprinkling in a few crumbs—when they sizzle instantly, the oil is ready.) Fry the balls for 3 to 4 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove the balls using a slotted spoon and drain any excess oil on paper towels.

Aloo (potato) chop. Photo by Ishita Singh.

Aloo (potato) chop. Photo by Ishita Singh.

Aloo Chop (Potato Croquettes) Ingredients:
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
Canola oil, for frying
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon red chili powder
Salt, to taste
1 jumbo egg
1 cup Panko (or bread crumbs)

Cooking Directions:
* Place the potato quarters in a large pot and fill it with water (to an inch above the potatoes). Salt the water, and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn down the heat slightly, and cook the potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes or until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain the water and let the potatoes cool.
* Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Then fry the diced onion until browned (5 to 7 minutes). Add the cumin, coriander and red chili powder, and fry for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until the spices are fragrant.
* Mash the cooled potatoes with the onion and spice mixture, adding salt to taste. Shape the mashed-potato mixture into 12 egg-size balls.
* In a shallow bowl, crack the egg and beat it well. In a separate shallow bowl, pour in the Panko (or bread crumbs). Dip each ball in the egg and then in the Panko, coating it thoroughly on all sides.
* Optional: For an eggless version, mix 2 tablespoons of water with ¼ cup of cornstarch. Dip the balls in the cornstarch mixture then in the Panko or bread crumbs, and proceed with the next step.
* Pour 4 inches of oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. (Test to see how hot the oil is by sprinkling in a few crumbs—when they sizzle instantly, the oil is ready.) Fry the balls for 3 to 4 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove the balls using a slotted spoon and drain any excess oil on paper towels.

Ishita Singh also writes about food at bitesoutoflife.com.

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