Pithod and Bengali spiced vegetable cakes

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A duo of little snacks that are the perfect way to kick off any dinner party, this recipe matches deep-fried vegetable cakes full of earthy Bengali spices with pithod, a Gujarati snack made by combining thick yoghurt (or traditionally, soured curds) and gram flour to create a set batter that’s perfect for cutting into shapes and deep-frying. You can choose to make just one of the snacks if you wish, but we think they are perfect together. Best of all, both can be prepared in advance, then fried just before serving.

First published in 2021





Vegetable cakes

To finish

  • oil, for deep-frying
  • Kasundi mustard sauce, mixed with tomato ketchup, or any chutneys or sauces of your choice


To make the pithod, place all the ingredients (apart from the oil) in a saucepan and mix well. Place over a low heat and cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture thickens into a batter. Oil a tray with sides at least 3cm high and pout the mixture into it, levelling it out with a spatula if needed. Set aside to cool, then cover and place in the fridge to chill and set completely
Toast all the ingredients for the spice mix in a dry frying pan until fragrant, then blitz in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Set aside
To make the cakes, heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed wok. When hot, add the onion, fennel and cumin seeds along with the bay leaves. When they begin to crackle, add the onions and sauté until golden
Add the carrots, cauliflower and French beans and sauté for 4 minutes. Add the spice mix, chilli powder and ground cumin and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes
Add the raisins and diced beetroot, cook for a minute, then stir in the salt, sugar and grated potatoes. Continue to cook until evenly mixed and everything turns a reddish brown from the beetroot and becomes shiny from the ghee (around 3-4 minutes). Leave until cool enough to handle
Divide the mixture into 8 equal parts (discarding the bay leaves), then shape into patties. Dip each one in the beaten eggs and then the beetroot, then place on a tray in the fridge until ready to cook
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 150g of dry white breadcrumbs
When ready to cook the snacks, heat a deep-fat fryer or deep pan of oil to 180°C. Cut the pithod into 1.5-inch squares (or any shape you wish)
  • oil, for deep-frying
Working in batches if needed, deep-fry both the pithod squares and the cakes for around 3-5 minutes, until crisp and browned on the outside. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately with chutneys or ketchup

After ignoring his father’s advice to become an engineer, Vivek Singh has built a distinguished career as a chef.

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