Come monsoon and into the hot oil go balls of battered up vegetables, sizzling in almost perfect sync with the patter of the rain.
India’s love affair with
is nothing new. And with the advent of the rains, it only grows more evident.
is a comfort snack that goes by a number of names like
What is amazing is that almost any vegetable, greens, fruit, fish or even meat can be made into
The dish is an emotion wrapped in layers of spiced
or any other kind of flour, and fried till golden.
There are several versions of the
) served in Durga Puja
) or Chennai’s stringy onion crisps called
With so many versions, how did the original
get its name? It all began with the concept of ‘
’ and ‘
’ entailed boiled or raw foods that couldn’t be stored for long, ‘
’ included foods that were fried and stored for longer.
The high heat used to fry the food ensured little to no moisture was left in it.
With time, the round
’ meaning cooked and ‘
) began to be colloquially known as ‘
This unique dish, in all its diversity, also traveled across the globe, influencing and assimilating into foreign palates.
One such prominent influence of Indian
can be found in a Japanese delicacy — the tempura.
According to food experts, back in the 16th century, Spanish and Portuguese ships would stop in India while enroute to Japan.
During the halt, they would onboard cooks from India who were said to have taught the Europeans different ways to consume vegetables including
Eventually, when the ships would reach Japan, many of the Indian cooks would stay back. They went on to influence Japanese cuisine and helped create the tempura.
However, unlike our
, the sophisticated tempura version uses wheat flour which makes them crispier.