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Bengali style Pumpkin Fritters or Kumror Telebhaja (কুমড়োর তেলেভাজা)

Bengali style Pumpkin Fritters aka Kumror Telebhaja (কুমড়োর তেলেভাজা) is a popular snack option from Bengal. Thinly sliced pumpkin pieces are dipped into gram flour batter and deep fried in oil. Like Beguni and Alur chop, kumror telebhaja is equally famous in Bengal but not very popular in internet. I am not sure why people have given less importance to kumror telebhaja. The recipe is quite similar to beguni, probably that is the reason it did not come to the lime light. Though both recipes are similar but each vegetable has its own taste. Like you get different varieties of beans or gourds but when you cook them individually each have a distinct taste. Isn't it? So I thought it won't be fair if I don't share the recipe of Bengali style Pumpkin Fritters aka Kumror telebhaja especially when internet is already flooded with plenty of Pumpkin recipes

In Bengali cuisine, there are plenty of dishes cooked with pumpkin. Some of the recipes are no onion no garlic recipes. On the day of Durga Ashtami often Luchi (Maida Puri) is paired with a no onion no garlic Pumpkin curry known as Kumror Chokka. Another popular pumpkin recipe goes very well with plain rice, we call it Kumro bhate. This is similar to Aloo Chokha. Boil pumpkin and smash it well. You can also add smashed potato in it. In a pan add mustard oil (little), add dry red chill and slice onions along with salt. Fry them and add it to the mashed pumpkin. Tada! it's ready.. Try it and then tell me you don't love pumpkin😉 (yes I am confident you will like it for sure). 

Kumror telebhaja on banana leaf

While writing this post, I was taken back to the memory lane of my girlhood and here I am sharing few of the glimpses from past. Telebhaja commonly called fritters like beguni, chop, pakoras, etc in Bengali is popular across the state (West Bengal). Each para (colony) has their own telebhaja shop (omuk kaku ba omuk dada r dokan) which is normally located at the corner of road under an old big banyan tree (bot tolay morer mathay dokan). Sometimes more than two (or sometimes numerous) if it's bigger area. Once it's evening these shops will be crowded like anything and a gloomy day can double up the crowd. Are you wondering why these kind of simple shops would be crowded?  The reason is we did not grow up eating pasta, pizza, french fry or any other fancy stuffs as snack, so these telebhajas were (are) our ultimate snack companion. When I look back I think how things have changed over the period of time. Before I share the recipe, I will share more details about Bengali style Pumpkin Fritters or Kumror telebhaja.

What is the difference between Beguni and Kumror Telebhaja?

Beguni is the fritters prepared using brinjal or egg-plant whereas Kumror Telebhaja is prepared using Yellow Colour Pumpkin. Though batter used in both fritters recipe is same, the taste of each fritter is distinct. Normally, the pumpkin has a sweetness, so the fritter's taste is slight sweet and salty. If you have not tried it, then I would say please give it a try. 

What are the Ingredients required to prepare Pumpkin Fritters or Kumror Telebhaja?

 Kumro or yellow pumpkin is the primary ingredient. You also need besan (gram flour) and certain spices (red chilli powder, turmeric powder, black salt, salt., nigella seeds). The speciality of these telebhajas is they are super crispy which makes it more delectable. Add rice flour and a pinch of cooking soda to make the fritters crispy. I will tell you one more hack to make your pakora or fritters crispy. When you are heating up oil to fry the fritters, take spoonful of hot oil and add it to the batter and mix well. This I have learnt from my mother. Most importantly you need oil to deep fry the fritters. You can either use mustard oil or any vegetable oil of your choice.

How do I serve Kumror Telebhaja?

 Kumror Telebhaja is a perfect evening snack. So you can munch them just like that or with a cup of hot tea or coffee. Bengalis prefer this snack with a bowl of muri (puffed rice). Actually in Bengal, muri  is a staple food, mostly taken as breakfast or evening munchies with some telebhaja (beguni, chop, pyanji, etc). Some people find it weird that how puffed rice could be breakfast option. I think this is purely based on the geography, climate condition, economy of a place. West Bengal is highest producer of rice and that is a primary reason why people of Bengal prefer has rice based diet. Also the state is pretty hot and humid. This is another reason to consume more rice based products for better digestion.

Pumpkin fritters served with puffed rice

Important Tips and Tricks for Kumror Telebhaja

  • The most important tip for this recipe is to thinly slice  the pumpkin pieces. Otherwise, it will be difficult to coat with the batter. Also, if it is a thicker slice it might remain uncooked.
  •  Though kumror telebhaja is an easy recipe, but batter play a crucial role in it. Take all the dry ingredients for batter in a bowl and mix them well. Always add little by little water and make a smooth batter. If you put too much water, the batter will be runny and too less water also will not give a proper consistency to the batter. If you had added extra water by mistake add little gram flour  to adjust the consistency. 
  •  Frying the fritters under medium flame gives you good fritters. If you fry them on high flame, inside will remain uncooked and outer coating will be burnt. So be patient and fry the fritters. 
  • Avoid adding too many fritters in the pan at the one go. Sides of the fritters won't be cooked and they might get attached with each other. 

Bengali style Pumpkin Fritters or Kumror Telebhaja (কুমড়োর তেলেভাজা)

Pumpkin pieces - rectangular shape, thin  pieces 10-12 nos
Gram Flour (Besan) - 1 cup
Rice Flour - 2 tablespoon
Nigella seeds / Kalonji/ Kalo jeera - 1/2 teaspoon
Cooking soda - a pinch
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 teaspoon (optional)
Black salt - To sprinkle on top
Mustard oil/ Refined oil - 2 cups
Water as required

Procedure (How to make Pumpkin Fritters / Kumror Telebhaja)

1. Cut the pumpkin into rectangular shaped thin pieces and marinate with little salt for few minutes.

2. Now take gram flour in a bowl and rice flour, add salt, cooking soda, turmeric powder, chilli powder and nigella seeds. Mix all the dry ingredients.
3. Slowly add water and mix thoroughly to make a medium to thick consistency batter. Batter should be smooth. There should not be any lump in the batter.
4. Heat oil in a wok and add a spoonful of hot oil into batter and mix well.
5. Now dip each pumpkin slice into the batter and coat them well, deep fry them until both sides are golden in colour.
6. Sprinkle black salt and serve them as snacks.

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