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Recipes: Spicy potato fritters (bonda), plus cilantro-mint chutney

Raj Gohil, the talented artist and chef who shares recipes in today's Buffalo News as our October Cook of the Month, had these appetizers ready before I arrived with photographer Sharon Cantillon. They're not beginners' work. Between making the seasoned potato mixture, batter, chutney and frying the little balls of delight, Gohil estimated he spent three hours making them.

Bonda
(Spicy Potato Croquettes in Chickpea Flour Batter)

Ingredients for the potato filling:
1 ½ pounds potatoes (boiled until very soft)
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon curry powder
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 ½ teaspoons split white gram beans (urad dal)
1 cup chopped onion
3 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
Ingredients for the batter:
1 ½ cups chickpea flour
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/3 cups warm water (110° F or more as needed)
Corn oil to fill the pan up to 3 inches

Directions for the filling
1. Peel the potatoes and mash them coarsely. Blend in the turmeric and curry powder.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium high heat until very hot. Add mustard seeds. When seeds spatter, cover the pot with the lid and add the gram beans and fry, shaking pan, until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add onions and chiles and cook for 4 minutes.

3. Add mashed potatoes and continue cooking for 5 minutes, until they begin to brown slightly. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, salt, and fresh coriander. Mix well. After cooling, roll into 1-inch balls. (It will make 16-20.)

Directions for the batter
4. Mix the chickpea flour, cayenne pepper , baking powder, salt and enough warm water to make a pancake-like batter. Cover and set aside.

5. Heat the oil in a frying pan to 375°. Dip the potato balls one at a time in the batter. Then, very carefully drop into the hot oil. Fry 3 to 4 balls at a time until they are golden brown all over (about 3 to 4 minutes). Use extreme caution in the frying process. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

6. Continue with the remaining balls the same way. Serve warm or at room temperature with fresh chutney.

Cilantro-Mint Chutney
1 ½  cups cilantro - packed fresh washed and dried, roughly chopped
1/3 cup mint, packed fresh washed and dried, roughly chopped
1/3 - 1/2 cup of water
2-3 fresh hot seeded chilies , roughly chopped
½ inch fresh ginger , peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste

Put all the ingredients in the food processor and blend until finely pureed. Taste the
mixture for seasoning. Cover and chill until needed. Keeps well for 2-3 days covered.

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Food and Drink
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