There is no dearth of deep-fried goodness in konkani food. There is an seemlingly endless variety of bajjo-s, phodi-s and ambado-s , just to name a few.

This is what I understand is the difference between each.

Bajjo : They are different veggies that are dipped in batter and deep fried. They are best hot off the oil and tend to become oily when cool. They are served as part of a meal or as a snack with some hot coffee. Essentially, Bajjo is konkani-speak for pakoda. Eg : piava(Onion) Bajjo, Goola(Green Brinjal) Bajjo etc.

Ambado : is a mixture of vegetables/herbs and spices, with potato/legumes/besan used as binder. They can also be seasoned mashed vegetables/tubers dipped in a batter and deep fried. Ambado is konkani speak for vada/vade Eg: Batate (Potato) ambado, Biscoot (Seasoned Urad Dal) Ambado etc.

Phodi : They are deep-fried veggies, too. However, there is no batter involved. They are marinated with a dryish paste of (red chillies+hing+salt and rice,soaked in water). The veggies used for phodi’s tend to be vegetables which have a low content of water in them. Root Vegetables like Suran (Indian yam), Sweet Potato etc. work best. Heat levels (as in Scoville) are higher in phodis than your average bajjo.They are sliced very thin and fried on medium heat for quite a bit longer than bajjos, making them crisp and chewy. They are great at room temperature, too. eg: see below . But they really come into their own when made with cross sections of fish like mackeral or pomfret. Yummm…..


Clockwise from top : Karate Phodi, Surana phodi, Kadge Phodi, Ghointa Phodi

This post talks phodi. As explained above, they are marinated with the spicy paste. We call the spicy paste ‘Goolli’ and the whole process of applying the paste to the Vegetables/fish is called “Goolli Lavche” or applying the paste. However, the english translation comes nowhere to describe the importance of its konkani counterpart. Especially, if seafood is involved. It is not that you dunk the paste and the veggies together in a bowl and swish them all around. You take each slice and apply the paste to it and set aside. It takes a lot of time, but such kind of attention to detail results in properly seasoned fish or vegetable that are just amazing. It is all about details.

The phodis are , most often than not, part of the festive meal or a very large meal. Each vegetable that is to be fried has a special shape in which it will cut for the phodi. Traditionally, five types of phodi are made for any festive meal. I could get hold of only four. The one’s I made for Sansar Padwa and their traditional shape are

1. Suran-a Phodi : Indian yam. They are usually cut into 1 mm thick/thin quadrilatrals of about 1″ * 1″. I used the frozen suran availabe in Indian store, and they are available pre-cut into cubes.

2. Kadge Phodi : Raw Jackfruit. 1 1/2 mm thick wedges . The actual width would depend upon the radius of the Jackfruit. Again, my only choice was the canned variety. I cut each piece into two cross-sectionally.

3. Ghoint-a Phodi : Parwal. Each parwal is cut into three or four pieces depending upon its thickness length-wise. My favorite.

4. Karate Phodi : Bitter gourd. They are cut into thin rounds (As thin as you can make them) and fried crisp, almost like chips. It kind of takes the edge away from the bitterness, yet maintaining it’s integrity. Even haters of this vegetable eat thid deep fried version of them.

Certain rules that are followed.

1. Each type of the vegetable should be cut in approximately the same thickness, length and breadth. They all cook at the same time that way.

2. All vegetables except karate (bittergourd, because of the bitterness) can kept in the same bowl once the “goolli” is applied.

3. Irrespective of whether the vegetables have been mixed together or not, when deep-frying fry like vegetables together. Again, different cooking times for different vegetables.

4. Always fry the bittergourd the last as changes the taste of the oil.

5. You know the veggies are crisp enough when the oil around them stops bubbling.

6. All safety rules for deep frying apply. 🙂

Recipe for “goolli”:

1 cup un-cooked rice, soaked for about an hour or two.
A fistful of dried red chillies (about 10-12)
1 tsp of hing powder
Salt to taste.

Grind together in a blender, using as little water as possible, to a smooth paste. Absolutely no water used when my mom makes it. But then, she has the magic mixer, too. However, my recent acquisition, the cuisinart coffee grinder, with the detachable grinder, works great for this as well for most chutneys. At $29.99 (at Bed, Bath and Beyond), it is not as hard on the pocket as some other ones. 🙂

Apply to the sliced/cut vegetables and keep aside for about an hour. Deep fry. Best served with Rice and Daalitoy.

Psst,Dear Behena, Pudding recipe coming soon….Dheeraj Rakh…

Update : ‘karate’ to be read as Kaa-raa-tey’. Thanks to the ever-vigilant Coffee’s comment below.


22 thoughts on “Phodis

  1. Bitter gourde is called karate????!!!!!!! LOL LOL LOL …… does it specialize in that form of martial arts!!?? 😉

    I never knew of these names for different kinds of fritters….. would probably call them all bhajjya or fritters!!!!! Beautiful post vee….. very elaborate and informative. 🙂

  2. Coffee, It takes a special kind of martial arts excellance to deal with the karate chop that is its bitterness :)) . We actually pronounce it, as ‘Kaa-raa-tey’. However,When I was typing, karate seemed right. Now, I can see it was not 🙂

    Asha-ji, Dhanyawaad. Aap padhare hamare blog pe, hamara blog dhanya ho gaya. Heh, Heh, I am like this wonly 🙂

  3. Dear Vee, Mouth watering crispies…What an inviting spread!!! Great idea for a rainy day with the TV or a book. The idea of using these vegetables and the un – cooked rice for the “goolli” makes this a most interesting recipe and I am waiting to try it out.

  4. Nice podis for samsaar padvo! Good description of Podi, Bajo ani Ambado. Love all podis, Kadgi podi is my favorite.

    ‘Vee’ moNu mast paTi aikalya, maatra itle disu jalle paLe tugele blog poLochak!

  5. I am sure the suran and raw jackfruit phodis must be tasting heavenly. I dont get both in my place and always crave for them. the frozen ones dont taste good.
    nice recipe.


  6. Thanks, Roopa. Yes, they are very lovable, aren’t they? it is all that oil 🙂

    Sharmi,I used frozen suran and canned Jackfruit. Not the real deal, but beggars cannot be choosers and all that….

  7. Interesting….
    Bas ek doubt. By this definition will Goli bajje be a type of ambado?!

    I am new to Konkani cuisine so forgive my ignorance 🙂

    Arre Varsha, what ignorance, vignorance, yaar? OK got that off the chest, feels really nice to try out my bombay lingo, once in a while 😀 .
    Welcome to my blog! A very pertinent question you raise, too. By the way it is made, it sure fits the ambado profile. I have always wondered why it is called goli bajje and not goli bajjo (except by hardcore m’lorean aamchis who can convert anything into konkani by adding a ‘o’ at the end 😀 ) and thus, a kannadiga or tulu influence. The way bonda is. Jaya V. Shenoy in her book also calls it Goli Bajje while what she describes as Vegetabe Pakora is called Bajjo. It is also interesting to note that most restaurants, even in mangalore, call it ‘Mangalore Bonda’, which going by the nomencalture as in Aloo Bonda etc. seems to mean an ambado!

  8. Really Vee, you have nicely described to make phodis.One thing I know from this recipe is that freshly made masala goli to apply for marination to veggies makes sense. Only other difference is my Mom and Annamma(paternal GrandMa) at home made phodis by shallow pan grilling with little oil as opposed to deep frying. Deep frying phodis I have tasted at Vhardike Mantovu (marriage hall) or public festival place such as Vadala Math during Ganesh Chaturhi because that is the faster way to make it for male cook. Traditional way my mom has always made shallow pan grilling. I remember my Mom and Aannama(paternal GrandMa)used to get up at 5 am in the morning on the day of Chavathi(Ganesh Chaturhi)and light five or six sagadis(charcoal burners(in Bombay it is called Badam Coal because of shape of the charcoal) stoves)and slow cook pan grill with very little oil those phodis. Each batch used to take atleast half an hour to avoid charring, as she has to prepare plenty to serve all our relatives (who loved to eat my Mom’s phodis) and friends during lunch time.In addition to above veggies phodis, she used to prepare Phagil (???) and Vaingan (Eggplant) phodis pan grilled. Vaingana phodis are no match to Italian Eggplant parmiagiana, they are out of this world! I have not made or tasted canned green jackfruit, but our special treat by Mom was always Jeeve Kadagi phodis(special round ball shape varieties of jackfruit,remains fresh only for two-three days after plucking from trees). Even my wife and I are making pan grilled phodis only here in US, even though her cooking style is Kasargod and my mom’s cooking is mainly from Mulki/Brahmavar side.
    btw, jeev kadgi is available plenty in Carribeans islands(tasted last year, restaurant cook was happenned to be Desi, so he fulfilled our request for fresh jeeve Kadge Bajje); and at Hawaii islands, but locals do not seem to eat the way we eat, bajje, sukke, chakko, etc.

    Interesting. It was never shallow-fried at our house. You are right, it is always made in wholesale and growing up was mostly made only during festivals, poojas etc. Chavathi were always big affairs, all the women in the family would sit with one stove and Kaili (Kadhai) and keep deep frying one of the veggies. somebody else would be rolling the pathrado, and another one would be grating the coconut. The eldest women (in our family, my Bapama and her sister ) would be spouting instructions for how many coconut, chillies etc in each masol and how much phanna etc. [sigh], those were the days. Vaingan phodi’s were never made at any festive occasion in my family (might be just a family aversion to vaingan, for all I know), but phagil, ghoint, kaaratey were the staple. The other two would depending on the season. Oh, how I miss Jeeva Kadagi. It was my fave. I started eating chicken when someone mentioned that Jeeva Kadagi phodi tasted like chicken. 😀 I think they taste better than chicken. Lucky you, you got to eat it!
    Mulki, you say! Tell me, are you a fish lover? as in love to eat fish..

  9. Sorry Vee, I should be using the word ‘Bajjo’ rather than ‘Bajje’ or ‘Bajje’???? after reading your humorous reply to blog-comment. Usually the word ‘Bajje/Bajjo’ is used for vegetable deep fried (such as Cauliflower, bell pepper, Onion,Spinach,etc.). Whereas the word “phodis” can be used for deep or shallow pan grilling of specially roots like Suran,sweet potato,Maddi(special type long taro roots),etc(I am afraid to ask that question to Mangalore Konkani person!!!).
    I also feel that some of those Kodial(Mangalorean)born fans try to boast themselves for being high status and claim that their Konkani(eventhough highly mixed w/ Kannada words, and nothing wrong with it as Konkani language has always assimilated with local language and culture!) is purer than Bombayites like us(some of them even carry that ego here in US!). It is similar thing like Puneri(from Poona) marathi is purer than Mumbai Marathi or Desastha(Nagpur)Marathi; or UP Hindi speaking guys used to laugh at Bombay Hindi(like, is Brtitish English is purer than American English?). But who cares, what people like and becomes universal communication tool is , I believe, is the language. Being born and raised in Bombay, Bombayites have developed a universal communication tool throughout India called Bollywood Hindi. History will show this to next generations to come.

    Ah, the boasting is all part of being the native-land, the preserver of tradiitons etc.. As you say, Allahabad (or should I say, Illahabad) ki Hindi, Lucknow ki Urdu and Kodial ki Konkani! What would Kodial be without the boasting! It is hyper holier-than-thou attitude that makes m’lore so much fun.

    • Just discovered this Konkani blog and find it pretty good. The difference between phodi and bajjo is this – for a phodi, the veggies are chopped a little thicker say about half a cm, and deep fried in the rice-chilli-hing ground batter, whereas for bajjo, the veggies are thinly sliced, and deepfried in besan-chilli-hing-jeera batter. I too am Bombay brought up with a mum who cooks great, married into a traditional family, with a mother in law who was an expert in traditional foods- so I’ve got the best of both worlds. Been trained mainly by my mum in law whose no more, but whom I keep remembering whenever I’m making hardcore aamchigeli dishes, which very few people venture to make these days!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Mine’s a purely veg cooking though, because though my children and I eat non-veg, non -veg cooking at home is a strict no-no)

  10. I love fish, specially Fresh Noguli(??) and Manzi (phompret) and Pedwo(Sardine); Raaju(Mackrel) is not my favorite; of course Kurle(Crabs) Ghahshi. We used to catch Kurle at Grand Isle beach at Baton Rouge by hanging chicken necks on the string between two poles in the knee high water (this trick I learnt from one of my Greek colleague). I tasted one of the best Kurle Ghashi (of course, I forgot the last taste my Mom made many years ago when she passed away)prepared by newly married Cousin’s wife from Udipi. I have written down her recipe.I will ask her permission so that I can give her or her Mom credit.

    Oh, I haven’t seen a Noguli since I came to US. Pedwo, the small ones- a smelly lot, but good, especially with tephal in it. I Love Raaju. Raaja phanna upkari is just amazing. Raaju, fried is completely out of this world. Oh, joy! My husband loves Kurle Ghashi. We get some decent blue crabs at a local korean store and I make the Ghashi often. We make it with Alle-piyav. Would love to know your cousins’ wife’s recipe. I am not a kurlo fan-too much work, to make and to eat. I don’t mind the work to make part,to eat is just asking for too much. 😀 My husband would love the catching fresh crabs idea… Manzi, oh what can i say? Utterly sublime.. You didn’t mention vissoN, that is good fried up, too.
    We have this tradition where we eat fish on narak chaturdashi. Do you do that? I have a mulki link too, btw. 🙂

  11. Yes, Vee I will ask her about Kaurla recipe sharing.Yes I like Visonu, here it is called Red fishspecially fried or another Ameriki name(???).
    Today I prepared your type phodis of Kannanga(sweet potato), Indian Karetey and yellow squash with Guli,may be guli was too dry or thick or I don’t know consistency as I hav never learnt art of cooking like ladies do!. But Karey taste did not show its bitterness as frying kills the taste. I think I will stick with shallow pan grilling. Saara Ramaayan likhne ki oomid nahin hai Kyun ki aap abhi F/MIL ke saath Konkani bhojan ke gulchade uadda rahe ho..nge!!!

  12. Hi ,

    I live in san diego and was looking this particular fish that I used to eat a lot in mumbai. In marathi its called modaka or patrya, a small white colour fish , its a little shorter than the palm and is eaten with its bones. Can anyone advise. Thanks

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