Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Vegetable Chop or Bhejetebil Chop

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Vegetable Chop or Bhejtebil Chop(sic!) is another popular snack from streets of Kolkata

My Mother having grown up in the mofussils, where everything from rosogolla to chingri'r chop(shrimp cutlet) was made at home, had an uncanny fear of Kolkata street food. Actually any street food.

All through the 80's, she stymied my attempts at street food with a vengeance that matched a NRI mother who washes her hands with Bisleri and rubs Purell before a meal at Flury's. She thought anything cooked and served along the streets could bring nothing but cholera, jaundice and disaster. My school days were thus spent, longingly watching the alu-tikki and chole chaatwala serving myriad of school girls in badly washed steel plates. All I was allowed to buy, once a month, was a packet of spiced up potato chips in a transparent plastic packet or a bar of Golden ice cream from the yellow ice cream cart.

It was her good fortune that we did not live in Kolkata or its suburbs where phuchka and telebhaja(fried stuff) by the road side was easier to find than a S23( a bus) in service. On our annual visits to my Dida's home in Kolkata, my Ma would ease a little and allow an alur chop here and a phuchka there. Those brief sojourns were so rare that the taste of those treats ached my memory until we came back to visit Dida next year.

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My Ma however compensated for this behavior of hers by cooking a lot of those things which we were denied outside at home. She would make shingara, dim er devil, khasta kochuri and bhejetebil chop all through winter.

Once the Northern winds started blowing and it was time to take out the napthalene scented hand-knit sweaters and Kashmiri shawls; the deep red beet, flame orange carrots and green peas flooded the vegetable market.Those were the days my Mother made vegetable chop, lots of it. With the freshest and sweetest of beet and carrots, those chops would be delicious. If I am allowed to be totally honest, I will say that I still missed the chops fried in stale oil, dusted with grime and carrying the germs of cholera but my Mother's vegetable chops were the best you can do in a clinically hygienic condition.

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Now while I had the vegetable chop down to the last peanut theoretically, I have always made it when my Ma is visiting us. Only that means she cooks the beet, the carrots, the potatoes, makes the stuffing, fries the chop while I eat them. My Ma thinks they are good for the kids, a good way to make them eat veggies she will say and so makes them quiet frequently while she is here. Once she had boarded her flight, I just make a stew with the same vegetables.

Last week however I made vegetable chops just by myself. I did not even think "kids", I only thought about myself and okay a little about the husband and how it will be nice to have some vegetable chops for breakfast for a change.

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It is pretty easy and though involves some frying in gallons of oil is not too bad for you. You are eating vegetables you see. Yeah, keep chanting that. With some planning you can cook the vegetables beforehand and make the croquettes and refrigerate them for 4-5 days. That way you can fry up some as needed and enjoy them with a cup of chai.


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Vegetable Chop


I think this recipe made about 24-30 vegetable chops but I can never be sure. Also my chops were smaller in size than standard

First lets make the Bhaja Masla

Cumin Seeds -- 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds -- 1/2 tsp
Corriander seeds -- 1/2 tsp
Clove -- 6
Green Elaichi -- 3
Cinnamon -- 1/2" stick
Peppercorn -- 12
Red chili -- 2-3
Bay leaf -- tiny

Roast the above on stove pop, cool and then grind to a fine powder. Do not char. Note: If you are feeling extremely lazy pop in toaster oven instead of stove top roasting. You can store this powder in a air-tight jar for months.You can use it to sprinkle on chutneys and make more chops.


Second --- We will work with the veggies, good stuff here.

Now we will chop the following vegetables in chunks
2 medium beet ,
2 carrot (if carrot is the thin kind use 4 else 2 should be fine),
2 large potato

Cook the above vegetables till they are mash-able. I usually cook them in the pressure cooker.

Once cooked, drain water and mash the vegetables. It is okay if the texture is little grainy and not totally smooth
Note: My Mother used to have her veggies a bit coarsely mashed, there shouldn't be any bite-able veggies but they can be a notch lower smooth.

Now heat a little oil in a Kadhai/Frying Pan

Roast 1/4 cup of halved peanuts, remove and keep aside

In the same oil add
2 tbsp of minced or grated ginger
3-4 green chilli chopped in rounds

Next add
the mashed vegetables,
3 tsp of Bhaja masla,
1/4-1/2 tsp of red Chili Powder,
salt to taste
sugar if needed

Saute the mashed veggies, mixing with the masala till the excess water dries up and the veggies come together, leaving the sides. Add 1 tbsp of finely chopped coriander leaves/dhone pata if you wish.Also add the roasted peanuts. Check to see the spices are right.
Note: If needed add 1-2 tbsp of besan or maida for binding. If adding besan, cook till smell of besan is masked.

When this mixture cools, grease your palms and fashion croquettes out of them. Add a golden raisin to each.
The usual shape is oblong or oval but I have made small slightly flattened balls.


Third -- Lets do some Coating

Make a batter of 1/3 cup of chickpea flour/besan + 4-5 tbsp of water. The batter should be thin, thinner than the pakori batter.

Dip the croquette/chop in above Besan mix, roll in seasoned breadcrumbs. Refrigerate the croquettes/chops for an hour. You could refrigerate these for about 4-5 days in a closed container. Only don't forget about them and go on a vacation. They need to be used sooner than later.


Finally -- Now is the Frying Time

In a Kadhai heat enough oil for frying. Once the oil is hot, check if it is right temperature by putting a tiny piece of bread in it.

Roll the croquettes lightly again in seasoned breadcrumbs and fry in hot oil till golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon and keep aside in a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil.
Note : If you had added besan as a binder you might get a scent of besan in the chop. In that case fry a little more at medium heat till it is cooked through.

Sprinkle some chat masala or beet noon and serve with some ketchup and a salad of onion, cucumber.



Notes: First time Vegetable chop makers please read the note

1. There is two kind of Bhaja Masla that Bongs make. The one in the recipe is how my Ma, her Ma, me etc. does it. The second kind is one where Cumin Seeds + Dry red Chili is roasted on stove top and then grind to a powder.

2.The besan coating for the chop should be a VERY thin coating. It SHOULD NOT be thick as in a Alu Bonda/Vada.

3. If you do not like besan coating you can make a thin batter of white flour + water. You can also do dip in egg wash and then roll in breadcrumbs like here in Maacher Chop

4.My Ma-in-law grates the beet instead of boiling and mashing all veggies, that gives a nice texture to the chop.

5.Many people say that drying the mashed vegetables takes considerable amount of time. To avoid this, drain the carrots, beet and potatoes well and only then mash it when they cool a little


Updated on May15th, 2013: -- Recently I made a version of this same chop where I deviated from being completely niramish. To the mashed veggies I added some crispy fried onions(from a box). Also for the coating I dredged the balls in all-purpose flour, dipped them in egg wash(2 eggs beaten with a tsp of water) and rolled them in bread crumbs. I then refrigerated them for a few hours/overnight before frying

48 comments:

  1. What a fabulous way to eat up the bhejetables! Now if only someone would stash a box full of these beauties in my fridge, ready to fry. Sigh!

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  2. After that healthy dose of vegetables in the chops, who needs a salad? Love this Bengali take on the humble batata vada, with bread crumbs and beet root. I have two beetroots, boiled and waiting in the fridge. It is time to deep fry for a change. Not sure how he would take it though.

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  3. Craving for some bhejetable chop .... love the write up !

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  4. I love these chops and have a lot of them at my friends place. I didnt know they had a coating of besan though, they hardly smell of it! These look delectable and oh so perfect!

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  5. Ekhane eshe snap ta bhalo kore dekhlam ... amar ja ja chai shob e toh ekhane. :-)
    Darun! Ei brishti te ekbaar banaboi ... thanks for the steps .. makes it sound easier.

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  6. Very tempting pictures! I have tried making them once but i had missed the batter and refrigeration so they didn't turn out that well!

    I am going to try it this weekend.

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  7. Crispy chops tempts me a lot,soo inviting..

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  8. Loved this line: some frying in gallons of oil is not too bad for you. You are eating vegetables you see.
    Easier to do oil free stuff with meats. The best thing about veg chops when i was growing up were that they cost only 50 p versus the more aspired to motton chops

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  9. In South India, we call them vegitabull cutlets, and we do them in heart shapes. Nice post, loved your similes.

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  10. Lovely lovely chops. I like bhejetebil better than vegetables :)

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  11. Hey...even i make these vegetable chops!!! But your recipe looks a whole lot spicier and yummy!!!

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  12. I love veggie chops! I used to have this on a regular basis as child (...grew up in jamshedpur)

    http://totefullofveggies.blogspot.com

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  13. what great and fond memories with these vegetable chop, I loved eating them all the time, actually more than singhada, if you can imagine that. Your pictures are super tempting.

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  14. Hats off to you for making this for breakfast. I would have stopped right after I roasted all those spices :-) Is this pretty similar to the veggie cutlet that we get?

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  15. And that is why I follow your blog...whenever I miss Calcutta, I have BongMom's cookbook to follow...hugs hugs hugs :) and thanks for taking me back to the streets of calcutta as it pours cats and dogs in Mumbai

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  16. my husband asking me to make these chops and I usally make a cutlet and call it chop. Of course the comment is "this is not original Bengali chop". Now I will try this and see what comment I get:) There is a beetroot salad as well that goes with this? Can you tell me how to make that?

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  17. I love ur writing... u make the food come alive as if I am eating it at ur table..
    Lovely chops - or Wayji (veggie) cutlets as we Gujjus would call it :)

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  18. Yum! I should fry them only for my kid;)

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  19. I was so looking for this recipe all over the web but wasn't satisfied with any I found. Thank you so much for posting this..I almost dropped my plans for making this for the weekend but now I am all geared up again to make it this weekend only. Thank you so much :)

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  20. Living in Kolkata has made me a fan of these delicious chops! I remember wondering why my Bengali friend was insisting on beetroot in her veg. cutlets some years ago:)

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  21. Thanks Everyone

    I am off on a vacation and am unable to reply to your individual comments. Sorry about that. See you all in a bit.

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  22. Stopping by to say Hi and to ask forgiveness for not emailing as promised. Will get to it soon, I promise.

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  23. mmmm..i love everything that has gone into this, the veggies, the spices and also that its fried! yay!

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  24. Lovely and a perfect snack for the windy evening! Sre to make it this weekend...And the photo setup is really cute!

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  25. Its winter here and I made this yesterday.With hot sweet tea it sure was well recieved.Thanks for yet another keeper of a recipe.

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  26. Hi S, the picture of the chops makes my mouth water and brings back so many memories! Also, you have inspired me to create my own blog at:
    http://theyinandyangdiaries.blogspot.com/
    Its not food related (so far), but random musings and my perspective on things..

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  27. We never got to eat too much street food either. These chops look amazing!

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  28. Mmmm...i still remember the warm vegetable chops my dad used to bring from KC Das when we lived in Bangalore. I make a similar version as yours, but i usually cook the veggies like torkari and then coat with egg and breadcrumbs. Will try out his version sometime.
    Monica

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  29. I am a Canadian university student, my parents are in the other end of the country and I'm at the other end! When I seriously miss my mom I pick something of yours to cook (generally something easy because I cant cook well at all!) so for that, dhonobad, apni amar mom-er kach theke dur ta ekto choto kore diye chen!! thanks a bunch!!!

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  30. mmmmm

    home food
    loved it!

    http://ovshake.blogspot.com/

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  31. I love this post! I'm a huge fan of Calcutta street food myself. Will definitely make these mouth watering chops.

    Devika
    http://calcuttachow.wordpress.com

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  32. hi..I am new to your blog...You write so well.....Veggie chops looks delicious...visit me at http://muchmorethanahomemaker.blogspot.com

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  33. Oh Sandeepa, thanks for reminding. I made vegetable chops yesterday, finished with a final refrying and sprinkling of chaat masala at the end just before serving.

    Have a great holiday? Where to? Kolkata? Lucky u. Have fun wherever you are

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  34. Love your veggie chops :D i just posted a veggie cutlet recipe yesterday :D Love yours :D

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  35. I have been following you for long... your recipes helped me at sum crisis moments.... never said thanks to you for that...

    how long is your vaccation? getting impatient

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  36. Please consider trying this variation too:

    1. At the step where the peanuts get fried, fry some raisins until they just puff up. Remove & set aside with nuts, & add back later.

    2. Add crushed or smashed ginger coins. Or just proceed with the grated, but then add also a small quantity of smashed & minced Thai type green chilies. The chili-ginger aroma is typical, and is played off against an ASAFETIDA tadka, which follows the peanut & raisins.

    3. Use plain roasted powdered cumin to finish the "poor", as the filling is called, but please do add a hint of black salt and a hint of tartness. Not much, but a hint to bring balance among the sweet, sour, salty, pungent, piquant and faintly hot.

    4. Texturally, overmature green peas, boiled & added in formed an important component. If you have some boiled Vatana at hand, a scant few may be employed as a weak substitute for those peas.

    Beet left in moderately recognizable cubes is the signature of Bhim Nag at Bahubazar. Their flavor profile is the one I grew up with, hence my biases! But they are pretty representative of the North Kolikata style.

    I urge all to go there & taste their Lal [red] Doi, Cauliflower Samosa, Babu Shondesh & Vegetable Chop. Have to be there before 8 a.m. weekdays during WINTER; supplies of fried goodies run out fast.

    5. Please consider baking your beets [and carrots] either wrapped in foil in the oven, or in the least bit of water filming a crockpot. The texture & taste will be so much better, & your fingers will remain clean. Or use GOLDEN BEETS.

    Be well.

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  37. Thanks Gautam, I do add raisins. Baking the beet sounds like a nice idea.

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  38. looks delicious ! I would like to try it but how would you make these chops without using potatoes?

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    Replies
    1. ???? There are potatoes right there with the vegetables. Did you read the recipe ?

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  39. Vow! I came across this recipe and gave it a try and it came awesome!! I added some fried onions to the mix. But this is the closest to the chops I used to eat when I lived in West Bengal. Thank you for this recipe!!!

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  40. excellent recipe !! came out so well that my husband keeps on asking for more...:)

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  41. Finally I made the vegetable chop and boy what chops were they...authentic!! Jaake bole "bhejetable chop"! I would not like to alter the recipe a bit as this one tastes eggjactly like those we get in Padmapukur/Chakraberia area of Kolkata.
    By the way it has been about a month since I get 2 beets every week and it sits in the fridge and dries up to the size of a walnut and ends up in the dustbin. This kept on happening for 3 weeks and in the 4th week before my H-Man found out what was happening with those beets I finally fried it up into cutlets which he really loved :D
    I am a good cook but an extremely lazy one! I love to get done with everything to be done for the day in an hour!! I read your book and hats off to you *respect*. I cant imagine handling H-Man, kids, job, book, blog etc etc all together as you do :)
    Bhalo Theko
    Mridula

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