Prashad’s famous Pethis are among the dishes featured in the restaurant’s vegetarian tasting platter.
And they’ve agree to share the secret to making them with Observer readers to mark National Vegetarian Week.
The recipe for the delicious garlic coconut-filled potato balls comes from Prashad: Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Kaushy Patel.
Serves 4–5 (makes 16–20)
sunflower oil, for frying
4–8 fresh green chillies, seeds left in
3–6 cloves of garlic
2cm root ginger, peeled and
pinch of salt
150g fresh coconut, grated
3 handfuls of fresh coriander,
blended to a medium coarse paste
1½ teaspoons salt
5 teaspoons sugar
pinch of turmeric
75g sev (Indian chickpea vermicelli),
blended to a coarse texture
5 teaspoons lemon juice
3 medium white potatoes
50g chickpea flour
25g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
Crush the chillies, garlic and ginger together with a pinch of salt using a pestle and mortar (or a blender), to make a fine masala paste.
Put all the filling ingredients into a medium bowl, add the masala paste and mix firmly to work all the flavours into the coconut. Use a teaspoon or your hands to form the filling into small balls roughly 2cm in diameter, placing them on a baking sheet as you go.
Boil the potatoes in their skins for 40 minutes or so, until a knife tip will slide in easily, then peel and mash.
Put the mashed potato into a large bowl with the other coating ingredients and mix well. The mixture will be very sticky and may be difficult to work with bare hands, so my tip is to wear lightly oiled rubber gloves to stop things getting too messy! Scoop up 4 teaspoons of the potato mix, roll gently between your hands to form a ball, then pat down to flatten – the mixture should cover the palm of your
hand and be about 5mm thick.
Place a coconut ball in the centre of the flattened potato and gently fold up the edges to enclose it. It is essential that there should be no cracks in the casing (otherwise oil will seep in during frying and the pethis will burst), so nip together any that appear, then roll the pethi into a smooth ball between your palms. Repeat until all the coconut balls have been wrapped in potato.
Heat the frying oil – about 15cm deep – in a large pan over a high heat (or in a deep fat fryer, if you have one). Test the temperature by sprinkling a few pieces of leftover potato coating into the oil – when it is hot enough, they will float to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium.
Gently place 4 or 5 pethis in the oil and use a wooden spoon to move them around so that they cook evenly all over. Fry until golden brown and crisp – roughly 5 minutes.
Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and leave to rest on kitchen paper while you fry the next batch.
Repeat until all the pethis have been fried.
Serve warm, with safarjan wattana chutney (page 208) or shimla mirch relish (page 207).
Variation – baked pethis
If you are looking for a healthier option to deep-frying, you can oven-bake your pethis.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 and oil a baking tray. Place the uncooked pethis on the tray, brush or spray with oil and cook for 30 minutes, turning after the first 10 minutes to help them crisp up evenly.