RAWALPINDI: A few hours before Iftar, passing by one of the many stalls selling Ramazan favourites, it is hard to resist the smell of frying Kachori wafting from the huge vats of bubbling oil.
This crisp, golden brown puffed pastry with a spicy filling of minced meat is sold by the dozens in the garrison city’s downtown areas. However, the Kachori sold at each stall, varies according to the recipe used for the filling but the best made have a light, flaky exterior.
The preparation of the Kachori, while simple, can be technical and today it is more commonly bought from stores rather than prepared at home. Chicken and beef filling is the most common in Pakistan while some places also prepare a vegetable or legume filling.
The filling is cooked in black pepper, red chilli, turmeric and other spices before the dough is wrapper around it. The snack is served with sweet tamarind or green mint chutney and sometimes even with a side of cooked chick peas.
“This is a dish most commonly eaten during Ramazan and the rest of the year, the demand for it is limited. But we have been selling a lot of Kachori each Ramazan for many decades,” said Mohammad Irfan, a confectioner on Murree Road.
He said beef filling, once a favourite, is no longer preferred by people and Kachori sold by his shop is now filled with minced chicken meat.
“We prepare the filling every day, as people only visit a shop when they know the items being sold are fresh,” he said.
“No one in the last 50 years has ever gotten sick from eating at our shop,” he added proudly.
Suhail Malik, a customer buying Kachori from a stall on Bank Road, said Kachori is a good addition to the Iftar spread, especially when entertaining guests. He said the Kachori is sold at Rs80 per piece, but it is such an essential Iftar item that price becomes irrelevant.
“The health conscious, however, might want to avoid this deep fried snack,” he said, with a chuckle.
Tahir Mehmood standing in a queue outside a stall on College Road said the Kachori in Ramazan remains popular despite the arrival of many new types of snacks in the market.
“It is a heavy food item and people like me might only eat half a Kachori but we still like to see it at the table,” he said.
He said hundreds of people line up to buy freshly fried Kachori before Iftar, however, buying unfried Kachori is always an option.
“It never tastes the same though. The reason is the large vat, which allows for a more thorough fry,” he said.
Another customer in Commercial Market, Mohammad Yasir, said that buying fried snacks from these stalls is a better option than cooking in the heat while fasting.
He said that since the beginning of Ramazan, he has been buying Kachori once a week for a change of taste.
“Kachori eaten with a side of chick peas is a complete meal and one doesn’t need to eat dinner after an Iftar with Kachori,” he said.
Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2015