Beyond Curry: Cilantro Fritters (Kothimbir Wadi)
If cilantro or coriander happens to be one of your favourite herbs, then this dish will have you beaming. It's a clever use of the herb and brings out its natural flavors. It's also an excellent way to get fussy vegetable eaters to change their mind and ask for seconds.
Before the sun touches the skies over Mumbai, the wholesale markets are up and buzzing. The produce spills onto the roads and comes from far flung villages and farmers from small hamlets. Fresh vegetables that have travelled great distances to feed the sleeping masses of the city lie in wait of customers.
One of the main vegetables or herbs that arrive first, still cloaked in the coolness of the night-air, are stacks of coriander leaves. Roots and all. Bunched into generous bundles and tied with coconut fibre rope, they line the pavements and are offloaded by the truckload. To say we love our coriander (kothimbir) is an understatement. The leaves fill the morning air with its distinct fragrance and tons of it simply vanish within a few hours. Every single day of the year.
Coriander is so much more than a garnish. And this dish makes sure you know it.
Kothimbir wadis are a delicious snack that taste excellent with a cup of piping hot chai. They're crisp on the outside and soft inside when they're fried. And because they're steamed first, they can also be eaten without frying.
About the author: Denise Dsilva Sankhe is a writer & creative director by profession. But that's only when she isn't eating her way across India. She recreates this delicious cuisine in her Mumbai home, which she shares with her husband, who has long since given up his determination to have salads for dinner.