This dish is from the southwestern coastal state of Maharashtra and is one of my all time favorite recipes. It’s very tasty and easy to prepare. Kothimbir chi Vadi are basically savory pan-fried cilantro cakes. They are great for entertaining; you can serve them as an appetizer or a side dish. They can also be made well in advance and gently warmed through in a low oven just before serving.
You will need either a rice cooker or a steamer to make this dish. You can also use a kadai (or wok) with a removable rack.
KOTHIMBIR CHI VADI (Savory Pan-Fried Cilantro Cakes)
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, finely minced
1 cup besan (chickpea or gram flour)
2 tbsp rice flour
2-3 small green Thai chilies, finely minced
˝ inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp kala masala (or garam masala)
1 tsp turmeric
pinch of asafetida (hing)
juice of ˝ lemon
salt to taste
water as needed to make the batter
oil for shallow frying
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cilantro leaves with the green chilies, ginger and garlic. Add the toasted sesame seeds, kala masala, turmeric, asafetida, besan, rice flour and lemon juice. Slowly add water and mix well to form a thick batter without any lumps.
Pour the mixture into a greased pan (or whatever dish will fit into your pressure cooker, steamer…). Tap it gently on your countertop. Place the dish into your steaming apparatus (if you are using a pressure cooker, the “weight” is not necessary) and let steam for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted cleanly in the center.
Remove and let cool. At this point the dish is completely edible and may be served. But for a tastier version, heat a deep skillet on medium heat. Add enough oil for shallow frying.
Remove the cilantro “cake” and cut into even pieces. Fry in the hot oil until golden brown on all sides. Drain well and serve with your favorite chutney.
You can add some toasted unsalted cashew pieces to the batter for both flavor & crunch.