Bombay is a vibrant, exciting city but I’m certain that even its most ardent supporters would agree that it isn’t the prettiest one out there. Yet, it had these particular settings, these spots which were serene and sublime. Most of these were by the sea – Worli Seaface, or Marine Drive. One of my favourites was the view from the Mahalaxmi temple. Situated on top of a cliff, the view of the Arabian sea behind the temple is a beautiful one.
One of the other things I loved about that temple was that it was the only one at the time that offered lotus flowers for worship. These lovely pastel-hued blossoms are some of the most graceful flowers there are. I thought of them as a thing of beauty. It was when I got invited to dinner one time at Amey’s house that I learnt that the lotus plant is also delicious.
The lotus stem/upper root figures quite prominently in Kashmiri cuisine, something I had no idea about until that day when I ate these amazing chips. Typically, the lotus stem (called nadroo in Kashmiri) is cut into lengthwise slices but that day Amey’s mom cut these them in cross-section. That produced these just gorgeous chips, as beautiful as the flower. Lotus chips taste a bit like plantain chips but are much prettier. They are an absolutely easy side or snack.
Once you have the chips fried up, you can flavour them in any manner you choose. I love the simple, traditional tossing of the chips in salt and chilli powder. Today, we tossed them in some amchur, smoked chilli salt, kosher salt, and cayenne pepper. They were crisp on the outside and superbly flavoured with the chilli. These chips are best eaten fresh. They tend to soften if they sit out too long.
We find lotus stems much more easily here in the Asian markets. Turns out they figure quite largely in other Asian cuisines. I’ve eaten amazing Japanese curries with mushrooms and delicious pieces of lotus stem and eaten them in dumplings. I’ve scoured recipes centered around them. I’ll share more of them soon. For now, here’s a quick and super easy recipe for a different kind of chip which I urge you to try. You’ll be in love. Actually calling it a recipe might be overstating it a bit. It’s more of a loose guideline. We cut them on a bias to create a slightly larger chip.
Lotus stem (nadroo) chips
Oil for deep frying
– Peel the lotus stems along their length and then cut into 1/4″ slices cross-wise on a bias.
– Heat about an inch of oil in a cast iron or thick-bottomed pan for deep-frying the chips.
– When the oil is hot, drop the chips into the oil and fry until golden.
– Drains the chips on kitchen paper, then toss while still warm into a salt and chilli mixture (or a spice and salt mixture of your choice.
– Enjoy the chips while fresh.