Exploring Puerto Rico

Exploring Puerto Rico
At Cafe Puerto Rico in Old San Juan

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A way to a man's heart may be just learning how to make a good damn "fuchka" :-)

While we were in Bangladesh this past winter for 3 weeks, Mus gladly used the pregnant wife excuse to spend more time at my place than his. The ulterior motive was to go out with my sister everyday and have multiple plates of "fuchka" and "chotpoti." (popular road side snacks made of chickpeas, potatoes boiled egg, green chillies, various spices and a tamarind sauce). Without any doubt, the second day we were in Dhaka, he fell sick to his stomach!! A quick call to my cousin doctor, a set of medication was recommended. So well geared with antibiotics in one hand, indulgence of street food continued on the other! 
One such fuchka stand by the Shilpakala Academy in Dhaka

The Famous Fuchka plate

Once back in DC, we were both quite struck by a large dose of homesickness. For Mus, the two things he missed the most are my 2,5 year old niece Ines and his fuchka escapades. I was definitely working on the former as I was pregnant myself, hoping that I would be able to give him my own version of Ines (found out later that it's actually a boy). Tackling the latter was no feat at all. I felt confident as during one of my outings, I observed the man at the cart closely and thought I had learned all the tricks of the trade :-) So here you go, my own version of fuchka minus the pollution of Dhaka, the sweat of the man making it, the snot and the dirty water.

-- 1 cup of yalow peas (sort of chickpeas but smaller. Available at Indian stores)
-- 2 russet potatoes
-- 1 egg
-- Tamarind concentrate
-- One small red onion sliced thinly
-- 6-7 green chillies sliced thinly
-- Spices: 1/2 tsp turmeric, pinch of baking soda. 3 dry red chili, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, 8 peppercorns, 1/2 tsp kalojira seeds, 1 tsp saunf, 2 cloves, 1 tsp paanch foron.
-- 1/2 tsp sugar
-- Cilantro
-- Fuchka shells (can purchase at any Indian store. They are often called pani puri shells)

-- Overnight, soak the peas in water with a pinch of baking soda. The baking soda will help cook the peas much faster.
-- Next day, wash the peas well and set them in a pan covering them with enough water. Add the turmeric and set to boil. Cover and turn the heat to medium, checking from time to time if the peas need more water. The mixture will take 1-2 hours to get mushy depending on how old the peas are.
-- While the peas are cooking, you can do the next 3 steps. Peel the potatoes and cut them in big chunks and set them to boil along with the egg.
-- Roast all the spices indicated above except for the turmeric and baking soda and grind the spices.
-- Take a few spoons of the tamarind concentrate (if you don't have the concentrate, break pieces of tamarind paste into hot water and mix well discarding any seeds), add some water and some of the spice mixture to your liking and boil. Add salt and sugar to taste. The mixture will thicken a bit and the spices will fill the kitchen with an awesome smell.
-- Once the peas are done, take a potato masher and mash only half of the mixture. Pour in the spice mixture gradually to your liking and add some salt. You can also add a little of the tamarind mixture to give it a little sour note. Don't overdo it as the tamarind sauce has all the spices and will be added as you are ready to eat.
-- With a grater, grate in the boiled potatoes and mix well with your hands. Adjust spices and salt as needed.
-- Add in the sliced red onion and green chillies and mix well.
-- Put the pea mixture in a serving bowl and grate in the egg on top and throw in the chopped cilantro.
-- When ready to serve, I like to toast the fuchka shells in my oven for 1-2 min at 350F. It gives them a fresh taste.
-- Break the middle of the shells and add in the pea mixture. People can add the tamarind sauce as they are ready to bite into these small pieces of heaven!

I have to admit that Mus never thought I would be capable to reenact this dish at home, but ever since I made it, I felt his love for me definitely increased a notch. Or is it my pregnancy hormones turning me delusional? But I think my instincts are right. Tonight, I surprised him with a kick-ass chicken tehari. Recipe to follow...
My version of fuchka -- made in Sabs's kitchen :-)


  1. Haha, this heterosexual thing is overrated. In a jiffy darling ;-)