Learn how to make Heerekai Bajji or Turai/Ridge Gourd Pakoda ~ Crispy deep fried ridge gourd fritters in a spicy gram flour batter
It’s been three weeks since we came back after a month long stay in India; from one home where I was born and spent most part of my life to another home which has been our home for more than a decade. I brought with me a bag full of homemade treats, pickles, masalas, heirloom pieces to adorn our home and most importantly, beautiful memories to cherish! I have many stories to tell, recipes to share, photographs to show in coming days. But now, I am trying to fight the homesickness that engulfs me… One would think that it becomes easier after 12 years of leaving the motherland, but it’s as fresh as the first time I left the country where my soul lives… As I continue to struggle with homesickness and writer’s block, let me share this quick recipe of simple Heerekai Bajji or Ridge Gourd/Turai Pakoda that my Amma made on a beautiful monsoon evening.
There is something magical about eating hot, crispy pakodas with chai or filter kaapi on a monsoon evening which is difficult to put in few words. For me, a plate of crisp pakodas, hot cup of freshly brewed filter coffee and a book in hand while watching the monsoon rain weave their magic is something I can never tire of. On one such evening when it was raining cats and dogs, Amma made these delicious Heerekai Bajji or Turai/Ridge Gourd Pakodas and one bit of it, I fell in love with it. In between stuffing my face with this crispy goodness, I managed to click couple of photographs and write down the recipe to share with you all. :)
There are couple of things to keep in mind when buying the ridge gourd for this recipe. Choose ridge gourd which has firm dark green coloured skin with fresh green stem. A good ridge gourd has firm flesh and tender seeds. If you find their flesh to be cotton like soft texture, it’s best not to use for this recipe. Make sure the pakoda batter is neither too thick or thin. It should be of dosa batter consistency. It should stick to the ridge gourd and coat evenly before deep frying. Fry the pakoras on medium flame to make sure it is cooked thoroughly inside out. Don’t be tempted to cook them on high flame as you will end up with half cooked, chewy pakodas. So keeping all these in mind, let’s get cooking this delicious Heerekai Bajji or Turai/Ridge Gourd Pakoda. Let’s get cracking! :)
Heerekai Bajji/Ridge Gourd Pakoda (Crispy, deep fried ridge gourd fritters coated in spicy chickpeas batter)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginners
Spice Level: Medium
Makes: About 15-20
Shelf Life: Best served fresh
Serving Suggestion: On their own or with any spicy chutney or ketchup with a cup of tea or coffee
1 medium Ridge Gourd, peeled and sliced into ¾ cm thick rounds
Oil for deep frying
For the batter:
¾ cup Gram/Chickpeas Flour, sifted to remove lumps
1 heaped tbsp. Rice Flour or Semolina
½ tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds, crush it in your palms to release their flavour
¼ tsp Ajwain/Carom Seeds, crush it in your palms to release their flavour
½-1 tsp Red Chilli Powder (Adjust as per taste)
¼ tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder
A generous pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
A pinch of Cooking Soda/Soda Bi Carbonate (Optional)
Salt to taste
- Prepare the batter by mixing the sifted gram flour, rice flour or semolina, cumin seeds, carom seeds, red chilli powder, turmeric, hing, cooking soda and salt to taste. Add little water at time to make batter which is not too runny or thick (dosa batter consistency). Taste and adjust the seasoning and keep it aside until needed.
- Heat the oil for deep frying on medium flame.
- While the oil is heating, wash and scrape the ridge gourd with a help of a sharp knife or peeler to remove the hard ridges. It is not required to peel the ridge gourd completely. Slice the ridge gourd to 3/4 – 1 cm thick discs and keep it aside.
- Line the plate or tray with kitchen towel and keep it aside.
Proceed to cook:
- Dip the ridge gourd discs in a batter, making sure that the batter is well coated on all sides before gently dropping it into a hot oil, one at a time. Fry the pakodas in a batch of 5-6 on medium flame, flipping them in between until they turn golden brown and crisp. It takes around 3-4 minutes per batch on a medium flame.
- Remove the cooked pakodas from oil using slotted spoons and place them on a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil.
- Serve this delicious Heerekai Bajji or Turai/Ridge Gourd Pakoda on its own or with any chutney or ketchup along with a steaming hot cup of tea or coffee. Enjoy!
- Choose ridge gourd which has firm dark green coloured skin with fresh green stem. A good ridge gourd has firm flesh and tender seeds. If you find their flesh to be cotton like soft texture, discard it.
- Make sure the batter is neither too thick or thin. It should be of dosa batter consistency. It should stick to the ridge gourd and coat evenly before deep frying.
- Fry the pakoras on medium flame to make sure it is cooked thoroughly inside out. Don’t be tempted to cook them on high flame as you will end up with half cooked, chewy pakodas.