Crunchy Munchies Hot, fried snacks are perfect for rainy afternoons. Here are some recipes that combine the traditional and the modern.

 There are few greater pleasures during the rains than munching on some mouth-watering fried starters and sipping hot cups of chai. Here are a few palate-tickling concoctions by gourmet chef John Rodrigues of the Sea Shells Restaurant at the Lotus Heritage in Salcete, Goa, owned by the Vithal Kamat group. You don�t have to go all the way to Goa to enjoy these crunchy delights!
 CHEESE/PANEER FINGERS  With a crisp and golden crust and stuffing that melts in your mouth, these take you to a different culinary plane.

Paneer or cheese 250 gm Gram flour (besan) 200 gm Carom seeds (ajwain) � tsp Chilli powder � tsp Cooking soda a pinch Turmeric powder (haldi) a pinch Salt to taste Oil for frying

 Cut paneer or cheese into one-inch long fingers. Heat oil in a deep-bottomed pan (kadai), reducing the flame when it�s piping hot. Dip cheese/paneer pieces into the batter and put them in the hot oil one by one. Fry till golden brown. Serve hot with mint chutney or tomato ketchup.
 BATATA VADA  An all-time and all-season favourite, perfect with chutney or tomato ketchup. For a more filling snack, slip it inside a pau with the traditional garlic-red chilli powder.
 Boiled potatoes 6 large

Chopped onions 2 large Chopped green chilli 2 Chopped ginger 1 inch Curry leaves Mustard seeds for tempering Salt to taste and oil for frying

 Make a thick batter of besan, ajwain, salt, cooking soda, haldi powder, chilli powder and water.
 Mash potatoes and add the rest of the ingredients except the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Heat two teaspoons of oil, add mustard seeds and curry leaves, put them into the potato mixture when they begin to splutter and mix well. Make large, lemon-sized balls of the mashed potatoes.
 Heat oil in a deep-bottomed pan. Dip the potato balls in the batter and gently put them into the hot oil one by one, removing when crisp and golden yellow. Serve hot with green chutney or sauce and masala chai.
 PRAWNS GOLDEN FRY  These Oriental crispies complement the pitter-patter of the raindrops on the window panes. The succulent prawns and the flavourful garlicky crust make a perfect combination.
 Prawns � kg

Lime juice � cup Pepper powder 1 tsp Refined flour (maida) 1 cup Cornflour � cup Egg 1 Chopped ginger, garlic, green chilli and spring onion 2 tbsp each Edible yellow colour a pinch Salt to taste Oil for frying

 Clean and de-vein the prawns, keeping the tail intact, and marinate them in lime juice, salt and pepper for at least half-an-hour.
 Make a semi-thick batter of beaten egg, maida, cornflour and salt, and add the chopped ginger, garlic, green chilli, spring onion as well as the colouring. Dip prawns in the batter and deep fry in hot oil till golden brown. Serve hot with Szechwan sauce.
 VEG/CHICKEN SATAY (Shashlik)  The delicately spiced satays are scrumptious, ideal with some wine for a rainy romantic evening.
 For vegetarian: grated carrots, chopped cabbage and French beans 1 cup

For chicken: thin strips of chicken 1 cup Chopped ginger, garlic, green chilli, celery (shalari) and coriander 1 cup Ajinomoto a pinch Cornflour 4 tbsp Salt to taste

 Squeeze to remove the water from the vegetables. Mix with the other ingredients to make a tight dough (you can use chicken strips in lieu of the veggies). Make gooseberry-sized (amla) balls from the dough, pierce each of them with a shashlik stick and dip in hot oil. Serve hot with Szechwan sauce.
 CRISPY VEG  These are pakora-like scrumptious veggies with a Chinese twist. Serve with piping-hot coffee or chamomile tea.
 Diced carrot, onion, French beans, cabbage and capsicum 2 cups

For the batter: Chopped ginger, garlic, green chilli, celery (shalari) leaves Egg 1 Cornflour 1 cup Refined flour (maida) 1 cup Ajinomoto a pinch Salt to taste oil for frying

 Make a semi-thick batter using the ingredients mentioned above, and mix in the diced vegetables. Fry the batter-coated vegetables till golden brown. Serve hot with Szechwan sauce.
 ALOO TIKKIS  The all-time North Indian favourite, with a cheesy twist.
 Boiled and mashed potatoes 6

Lime juice 2 tsp Cornflour 1 tbsp Bread crumbs � cup Pepper powder 1 tsp Grated Parmesan cheese 2 tbsp Chaat masala 1 tsp Chopped coriander leaves 1 tsp Salt to taste Oil for frying

 Mix in salt, pepper powder and lime juice with the mashed potatoes. Mix in bread crumbs and cornflour so that the mixture binds well. Add the chaat masala, grated cheese and coriander leaves and mix well.
 Divide the potato mixture into equal portions. Cup each portion in your hand and gently flatten it. Coat each tikki with breadcrumbs and fry in a shallow pan till golden brown. Serve hot with tomato/chilli sauce and lemon wedges

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