Rajasthan, the land of kings and deserts, where not only camels are abundant but also amazing street food. Like in many dry and hot regions around the world, chilis play a major role in Rajasthani cuisine. And so, crowning the huge variety of delicacies is a local specialty called Mirchi Vada. What comes with many alternative names such as Mirchi Bada, Mirchi Bajji or Mirchi Bhaje are basically Indian chili poppers – but extraordinarily delicious ones! The spicy Indian cutlets consist of green chili peppers stuffed with a masala aloo filling, covered in a batter of chickpea flour and then deep fried. Occasionally, a cauliflower filling substitutes the spicy mashed potatoes.

Especially when Monsoon hits the northwestern state of Rajasthan around June, locals can’t get enough of the mouth-numbing fritters. The spicy snack gets them through the rainy season and heats up their bodies and hearts right from the inside. Whether for breakfast or as an evening snack, with some tomato sauce, homemade coriander-mint chutney or even just plain, Mirchi Vadas are absolutely irresistible. And that actually is the case for any time of the year.

A Jodhpuri Original

Most famous of all are the Mirchi Vada of Jodhpur where they also originated from. Supposedly, the water in the region surrounding the so-called Blue City gives the popular street-side snack a unique flavor. While they were only prepared there initially, the immense popularity of the deep-fried fritters made them spread to other cities across Rajasthan like Jaisalmer, Udaipur or Jaipur.

Raw Mirchi Vada, chilis with spicy potato filling at Shahi Samosa next to clock tower in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

If you happen to visit the beautiful town of Jodhpur, make sure not to miss out on the original. And what better place to try the specialty than the local favorite called Shahi Samosa, a small joint close to the clock tower. For as little as 16 Rupees or 20 Cents, you get a big and super fresh piece of the tangy deliciousness right out of the sizzling oil. Simply mouth-watering! The crowds outside munching on the chili bites speak for themselves.

And once you’re done and your mouth is on fire, two other Jodhpuri specialites will get you some sweet relief: Mawa Kachori and Makhaniya Lassi – the perfect dessert combination to balance out the tangy chilis.

Crispy, Spicy, Heavenly!

Even if you like spicy food, you might get a bit intimidated by the idea of eating large green chilis just like that. We can soothe you though. They aren’t as fiery. Especially the peppers themselves are rather gentle since the used Bhavnagari Chilis are some of the milder varieties. De-seeding them additionally gets rid of some of the heat. Nevertheless, the popular street food isn’t for the faint of heart either. After all, the flavorful Masala Aloo filling in Jodhpuri Mirchi Vada contains a generous amount of Amchoor and red chilli powder giving it quite some tanginess.

But no matter if you are the world’s greatest spice-lover or normally aren’t keen on hot food, be ready to be lured in right from the first bite. The green peppers are juicy and flavorful. The potato filling is aromatic and spicy and gives it a mushy texture on the inside while the fried batter adds the luscious crispness on the outside. All together, Mirchi Vada is just out of this world. Once you started, you won’t be able to stop anymore. We officially warned you!

When you are on the look-out for the chili cutlets, keep in mind that Rajasthani Mirchi Vada comes in two different versions. One where the large, de-seeded chili is stuffed with the spicy potato filling, dipped in gram flour batter and then deep-fried. For the second one, people form the Masala Aloo mix into a pepper-shaped object. This casing is then stuffed with a marinated chili, dipped in batter and fried as well.

 

How To Make Mirchi Vada At Home

Mirchi Vadas are an ideal Chaat, a so-called Indian snack, that people will love at any occasion. The chili fritters are the perfect finger food at a party but also serve as a great appetizer. They are super easy and cheap to make, especially if you need large quantities. Place a plate of Mirchi Vadas in the middle of the table and your guests will be in heaven.

Traditionally, Indians use large, somewhat milder peppers known as Bhavnagari Chilis for the spicy fritters. Since many of you who are living outside of India may not have access to this type, we recommend using Jalapeño peppers instead. While raw chilis may become extremely hot, a way to get rid of some of the heat is to first marinate the peppers in some salt and lemon juice. For the remaining steps, simply follow our easy and delicious recipe below.

 

Mirchi Vada

Yield: 5 servings

Mirchi Vada Bhaji: traditional street food from Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. Stuffed green chili fritters

Ingredients

  • 12-15 Bhavnagari Chilis (or Jalapeño peppers)
  • 125 g Besan (chick-pea flour)
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 250 g potatoes
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp Aamchoor (dried mango powder)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp green chilis
  • water
  • sunflower oil

Instructions

  1. For the filling, first boil, peel and mash the potatoes
  2. Now, mix the potatoes with 2 teaspoons salt, the chilli powder, amchoor, coriander powder, asafoetida, finely chopped green chillies and crushed fennel seeds
  3. Wash the peppers and wipe them dry. Make a lengthwise cut to open them up on one side and de-seed them
  4. Distribute the filling into equal portions and fill each chili with the spicy potato mix
  5. Mix the chick pea flour with 1 teaspoon salt and enough water to form a thick, smooth batter
  6. Heat the oil in a large pot. The oil is hot enough when a drop of batter comes up to the surface straight away
  7. Roll the peppers in the batter to cover them evenly all around
  8. Lower the heat to medium, drop the chilis into the oil and fry them until they turn golden brown
  9. Take out the fried peppers and let them drain on a piece of kitchen roll before serving them hot


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Photos by Joegoauk Goa, SunnySideCircus

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