Sunday, March 26, 2017

My Indian food experience tour: patra

Genuine Indian restaurants outside India, serving more than curries and samosas, are quite a rarity in Germany, maybe because the need to adapt to the local tastes. Besides the knowledge of people bred and growing up there, there is also a chance to have a taste of special Indian foods through the special stores delivering original dishes, even though only in a box. At the recommendation of my friend, one of the many boxes purchased the last time was also the mysterious - for me - patra that I was courageous enough to finally try a couple of days ago.
Patra, patrode or alu vadi is a vegetarian dish specific to Maharashtra, India. Patra means leaf in several Indian dialects. It is made of colocasia or banana leaves stuffed with rice flours and various flavourings such as spices and tamarind. In the box, it is stored as a long roll batch that I cut into small buns.
The recommendation is to fry it in coconut oil or ghee - in both cases I still haven't give them a try - but I preferred to used some thymian oil. My patra has the following composition: aloo leaves, chickpea flour, green chilli, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, nutmeg, mustard seeds, coriander, turmeric, coconad shreds. I fried in the oven at 250C for around 10 minutes.
My first bit of patra was a real explosion for my palate. Such a diverse full of contrasts mixture was an extraordinary encounter, hard to describe. My first slice was consumed without any side dish as I was not sure what to expect. The sweetness and perfumed notes - added by the nutmeg, for instance - melts into the chilli notes, but what you feel at the end is just a strong spicy taste, I personally never experienced before. A couple of slices later, I still did not know how to match it, and didn't want to alter the original taste either, but most probably some simple sticky rice or some fresh tomato and cucumber slices would have been a good choice for the second bit after the patra.
I am happy to have tried this dish: it created a special food experience and brought new tastes and spices to my palate. One day, maybe I will be able to prepare my own, preferably in India.

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