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Bondas are an Indian snack food commonly sold by street vendors and also made in Indian homes to keep on hand for snacking. There are sweet and savory variations, but they are commonly made by mixing cooked mashed potatoes with vegetables and spices, breading the mixture in gram flour and frying them. The savory version is the most popular in most of India, although sweet bondas, which are similar to doughnuts, are preferred in southwest India.
Savory bondas are typically spicy, though the heat levels vary. Peeled and cooked potatoes are mixed with any variety of vegetables, finely diced chilies, and spices such as turmeric, cumin and coriander. The mixture is then shaped into balls and either rolled in gram flour or dipped in a gram flour batter and fried in sunflower oil. Once the balls are a nice, golden brown, they are removed from the oil and seasoned with fresh lime juice.
While cooked potatoes are the most common base for savory bondas, tapioca and sweet potatoes are also popular. It is also common to add meat or hard-boiled eggs to the mixture before frying, making these already filling snacks almost a complete meal. In Maharashtra, a state in northern India, these snacks are usually formed into disks rather than balls.
Sweet bondas are usually made from a mixture of sugar, maida flour and baking soda that is brought together by a small amount of water. The dough is dropped by spoonful into hot sunflower oil and usually served immediately after they are cooked. It is also common in southwestern India to add very ripe, mashed bananas to the dough and, in some cases, dress the bondas with sugar immediately after frying. These doughnut-like snacks, also commonly sold by street vendors, are eaten as a breakfast food.
These popular snacks, while considered “fast food” in India, are often kept in many Indian homes. Once fried and cooled, bondas will typically keep for up to a week if stored in an airtight container. Bondas are incredibly filling despite their size and, when a protein such as egg or nuts is added, can make a pretty well-rounded lunch or light dinner. This inspires many residents of India to take bondas with them while traveling and to keep a batch of them in the pantry.
Whether spicy or sweet, these bite-size snacks are a common sight in India and are becoming more popular throughout the rest of the world. They are relatively easy to make and even easier to eat. This, coupled with the endless flavor combinations, makes bondas popular.
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