I still remember the long strands of crispy delight that we would munch while watching cricket test matches on TV in Chennai. When my mom moved to California, she taught me her recipe, which is still the favorite in my home. It has been a nonstop crowd pleaser, from my son’s friends in the neighborhood, to our own friends every Diwali. A bowl filled with mom’s ribbon pakoda (or pokkodam as she would say) with a hot cup of ginger chai is my all time simple pleasure.
2 cups rice flour
1 cup chickpea flour
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon asafoetidasalt to taste
2 tablespoons butter
½ – ¾ cup water oil to fry
a murukku/chakli press with a two-slit plate*
Place the rice flour on a sieve and sift it into a microwaveable glass bowl and heat it in a microwave oven for two minutes. Remove and sift the chickpea flour into the same bowl. Add the cayenne pepper, asafoetida and salt. Grate the butter into the flour mixture and using your fingers mix it into the flour to make a crumbly texture. Slowly add water little by little to make a soft dough.
Heat oil in a wok to about 350 degrees or check by placing a wooden ladle in the center. If there are bubbles forming around the ladle the oil is hot and ready for frying. Keep a pan lined with paper napkins to drain the oil from the fried pokkodams.
Make sure that the murukku press has a two-slit plate attached tightly. Place a lemon sized ball of dough into the the press. Lower the heat to medium and then press the dough into the oil in a circular pattern. Keep the heat on medium and fry the pokkodam by flipping it a couple of times till it is golden yellow in color.
Remove and drain it on a the pan with paper napkins. Once it is cool to touch, taste to make sure it is crisp and has a little bite of the cayenne. Enjoy!
Praba Iyer teaches custom cooking classes around the SF Bay Area. She also blogs about cooking at rocketbites.com.