German Bakery
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Olive and Spinach Surprise: Alu Palak bonda

The Paper Chef is a brilliant initiative begun by Owen of Tomatilla. It is for all those who cook as well as the armchair cook, that most demanding of people, who slavers at the description of ingredients, and puts it all together in his mind to create a feast that defies any other to come up to scratch.

As a new-ton to most events in the online food world I was late again but this list was too much to pass up . (Well the time difference saved me as I am typing this up well beyond 12 o'clock but ....that's my 12 o'clock.) The olives, potatoes and cheddar cheese were already there. All I needed was some nice fresh spinach.So I rushed off to the market.

First, I thought a salad would be good, but on second and a half thoughts the salad idea was shelved for something a bit more adventurous. At the market I saw gavraan lasun that is wild or indigenous garlic which is characterized by its small cloves . That became one of the other ingredients. Baby spinach was also found, if a trifle wilted. So with the addition of a few other spices from my masala rack I was all set to go.

Ingredients:

4 medium potatoes
1 cup of cooked spinach/ about 1 bunch of palak
1/2  grated cheddar cheese
10 green pitted olives
5 cloves of garlic/ lasan chopped very fine
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup gram flour/ besan ka atta
1 tsp rock salt
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder/paprika
½ tsp turmeric powder/haldi
1 tsp cumin/jeera powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 - 1/2 cup water

Boil and skin the potatoes. Grate the cheese fine and add to hot potatoes. Mash together till smooth. Add salt and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.

Cook the spinach on low heat without any water. Pour off any liquid then measure 1 cup. Squeeze out all extra water from spinach and flatten it into a rectangle about 1/4" thick.

Heat one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Toast the garlic in the oil till crisp and brown but not burnt.Spread the toasted garlic on the spinach and sprinkle on some salt.Cut the spinach into strips and roll the olives in each till the spinach strip encircles the olive.

Divide the mashed potato into 8 equal parts. Take one part and shape it into a ball (like a clay pinch pot ) with a well in the center. Place the spinach covered olive into the well and again pinch the top of the potato pot together and roll it lightly between the palms to make a perfect circle.Make all 8 the same way.

Heat up a pint of vegetable oil. While it is heating up make a batter of the gram flour, the spices and baking powder. Add the water bit by bit,( reserving any if it seems to be getting too thin) stirring till all lumps dissolve and it forms a thick batter.
Dip/coat each ball in batter and fry in hot oil till golden brown and crisp on the top.
Serve as a snack or an appetizer.

Olivespinachsurprise

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The toasted garlic spread on the spinach along with the olive oil tasted yummy and added texture to the whole with its crunch. Since the olives I had were nothing special, the oil added that extra taste it required. The cheese blended well with the potatoes and the masalas mixed in the batter did not overpower the the rest, just adding that bit of tang to make it more interesting.

P.S. for Meg in Paris. The dedication continues...darn it if the lights didnt shut down again as soon as I put the potatoes on to boil!

P.P.S. dated july 18 . This recipe has been awarded the Best Foreign Feature  by Sarah  in the finals of  the Paper Chef # 8  Golden Tomatilla  Awards. Thank you thankyou.

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