Rajasthani Pyaaz Ki Kachori (Spicy Onion Pastry)
We lived in three houses during our 10-year stint in Jodhpur, Rajasthan (India). I am not sure how the human brain chooses which moments to capture and store as memories, but a lot of my long-term recollections are from Jodhpur, or maybe it’s because I jog my memory to that time a lot. I remember the color of our milkmaid’s daughter’s hair, knotted and milk-chocolate brown; the sound of our milkman’s motorbike on which he looked like a cowboy, saddled with two giant milk canisters on each side, complete with a loopy white turban. My mother would walk out on the ledge of our garden with a steel vessel in hand, and complain about him watering the milk down every day. In the afternoons, the same ledge was used to bargain over vegetables and fruits with cart-vendors who came over to sell their wares door-to-door, and in the evenings with the baker that came with fresh milk bread and savory patties.
Sometimes, my mother would take me to the grocers near-by, and I would happily trail after her in the event that she was feeling exceptionally magnanimous and let me buy a comic book (which was often). I could go on and on, with how I had my ears pierced from a cart vendor’s rusty tools and how I used to make earrings out of Neem stems and twigs for my sister in that garden. Its all like a movie in my head, some borrowed memories, some manufactured.
Jodhpur has a very famous confectioner called Janta Sweet Home that sells the world’s best Pyaaz ki Kachoris and Mirchi Badas (ugh! this English language! There are no good words to describe those things, I’m sorry – at best, it’s loosely termed spicy onion pastries and jumbo green chili fritters). Janta Sweet Home excursions were reserved for special occasions, but there was a local Halwai (confectioner) in the open-air farmer’s market near our home who had long line-ups around the clock. Sometimes, my sister and I would run over and combine our dwindling savings to satisfy Kachori cravings, and sometimes our father would bring them on his way home from work. You have to understand, these are not your everyday savory snacks, they’re the antithesis of crispy and soft, crumbly and firm, light and filling… Ineffable! Just make it! The spicy onion filling is something I have not been able to mimic, but this version is pretty dope and we love it. Serve with coriander-mint chutney or mango pickle, your choice.