Ajwain Patte Ke Pakode or Carom Leaf Fritters or Vaamu aaku Bajji as they are known in my hometown are a perfect monsoon tea time snack. Years ago I recall my mom making them and I turned my nose at them! She had a green thumb and could grow anything even in a pot. The Ajwain or Carom leaf has sharp, thyme-like flavour and is mistaken for thyme. The main element that gives the leaves its aroma is thymol which is very similar to thyme.
Now I am growing all sorts of veggies and carom leaves are one of them. The joy of plucking fresh leaves and making hot pakode with them is amazing and knowing that the leaves have got medicinal value is another bonus. The lemongrass and carom plant has somehow got intertwined and I plucked a lemongrass leaf also to add to my green tea.
Since I was a kid, I remember munching on carom seeds and downing them with a glass of water as a cure for a tummy ache. Mom would just force it down my throat and I gradually came to like it. The leaves have a pungent smell but the flavour is likeable. Like we use carom seeds, the leaves too can be used to flavour any dish.
Carom is used to cure colds, coughs and fevers and tummy ache for infants and it is used in Ayurvedic medicines for the same. Colicky babies are given a few drops of Carom water to relieve them of abdominal discomforts. For grown-ups also a spoonful of carom seeds with a pinch of black salt chewed and swallowed with a glass of water helps in tummy ache and indigestion.
I enjoy fritters only on a rainy day or when the Sun God is on vacation. A plate of Ajwain ke pakode with a steaming cup of tea is the ultimate combo. Most people enjoy their fritters with tomato ketchup but I prefer a freshly pounded a mint dip. I plucked the mint too from the garden and in my mortar and pestle I made chutney with garlic, green chillies, spring onion and mint and added a squeeze of lime and salt. I like it coarse and hand pounded rather than smooth in a mixer.
Recipe for Tasty Ajwain Patte Ke Pakode or Carom Leaf Fritters
10 Carom leaves
1 cup Chickpea flour/ Besan
Salt to taste
1 tsp Red chilli powder
1tsp coriander powder
1 tsp pav bhaji masala
4 garlic cloves crushed
¼ tsp carom seeds
Baking soda – ¼ Tsp
Oil for deep frying
½ cup water
Wash and wipe the Carom leaves. If you are plucking them at home then retain a bit of the stem while plucking as it is easy to dip in the batter and hold while dipping in the oil.
Take a mixing bowl and sift the chickpea flour with salt and baking soda. Do not add even a bit more of the soda or you will ruin the taste and texture of the pakoda. A little rice flour would give you crispier fritters.
Add red chilli powder, carom seeds, coriander powder, pav bhaji masala, crushed garlic and mix well with a spatula or a whisk. Add water to make a thick and smooth batter.
Let the batter rest for 10 mins.
Heat oil in a pan or skillet. Check if the oil is hot by dropping a drop of batter in the oil and if it rises instantly the oil is ready for frying the fritters.
Dip the dry carom leaf in the batter and see that it is coated nicely on both sides and gently drop it into the hot oil and fry till golden brown. Remove on a kitchen towel to remove excess oil.
Serve How to Make Tasty Ajwain Patte Ke Pakode or Carom Leaf Fritters hot with ketchup or fresh mint chutney or any dip of your choice.