Dim Keema-r Devil (Egg & Mince Meat Devils)

Today I have something special for you. I asked my friend T to hijack my space for the day and write on an issue that is now the talk of every household and every academic institute across India. T and I know each other since our days in journalism school. She was family to me in Delhi. She has accompanied me to food trails, shopping expeditions, Durga Pujo pandal hopping, house-hunting, short trips and have stood by me like a rock in not-so-pleasant days. We have stayed up for nights crying over the December 16 incident two years back, cursing the city we lived in, foul-mouthing the government that was so impotent in ensuring safety to its people. Two years on, a similar situation presents itself in front of us. Maybe not in the root cause, but definitely in the magnitude it has taken. From what was the "Roaring of the Lambs" in December 2012, the nation in general and the state in particular now confront HokKolorob (Let there be Noise). Now T is an embodiment of passion. The "slightest" social anomaly makes her blood boil. And obviously since we are talking of a "tuchcho ghotona" (to quote You-Know-Who) here, who better to voice an opinion than T?
Devil Is In The Detail
Tanushree Ghosh

This time last week, little did the world know that the simple demand of the students of Kolkata's Jadavpur University (JU) for justice, for the redressal of an issue close to their hearts, would snowball into michhil, or protest marches, and assume gargantuan proportions not just in the city, but among the student communities in the rest of the country.
Had my impregnate Facebook newsfeed not been littered with the term #hokkolorob and had I not been the "chosen one" to edit the stories around “the state versus JU students” events (yes, I am a copy editor with a news daily), I would have let this uncertainty pass, of not knowing the meaning of that hashtagged word, of not knowing the depth of the matter at hand, of being indifferent like so many of my fellow countrymen. For starters, I thought it was gibberish, perhaps a Bengali version of Halla Bol, haq ki ladai (where hok would be haq or one's right and lorob would be lorbo or fight)—yes, you can judge me for being a probashi and not being lettered in the mother tongue—however, all hail be to Google, I found out Hok Kolorob is the name of a song/album by Arnob and that it means "Let there be noise".
Soon I felt enlightened and metamorphosed—the outer shell of a passive, old, indifferent self would wither and the younger, passionate, angered, revolting self unfurl, rekindling the memories of college days when "protest", "agitation", "revolt" were legit terms. But here the situation is a bit different. The totalitarian and fascist state deals with the innocents (or so we think, we the "anti-state" humbugs or “devils” in the eyes of the state) by making arrests in a Kafkaesque fashion. So I, the "outsider" humbug (an alumnus of the milder Delhi University), in support of the fellow students in Bengal, joined the protest in Delhi's Banga Bhavan this Saturday (Didi, didi, didi...  [*humming the Usha Uthup song*] ...catch me if you can!).
West Bengal: the state of bandhs, the state of michhils. The naysayers say that melodrama courts cultural, political and civil dos in this state; everything is overtly exaggerated, in the same way as unattended milk boiling away on a stove. You know what happens next.
But why so much deliberation on michhil in a food blog? Because, I was wondering what food item/dish can complement the idea of a michhil. Yes, a random thought. Go on, judge me. Actually the thought was planted in my head by this blog’s owner, my dear friend P—who made her mother's speciality deem er devil (my all-time favourite) today. (*You might scratch your head and hum in the puzzled Shakti Kapoor’s crime-master Gogo way, from Andaz Apna Apna: Yeh devil-devil kya hai? Yeh devil-devil?*). The uncannily named “devil” is the ultimate michhil food—the egg-mince mutton croquettes; shaped as bombs, only, they burst inside your mouth and, oh what a burst of flavours!
And no, you don't do "thoda khao thoda phenko" in the Satish Shah’s DeMello style, from Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, in keeping with the spirit of the michhil (of hurling things, usually stones, at your opponent during a fight), you khao (eat) the full devil. And just to think, if you did throw these devils into your opponents' mouths, I have this strong gut feeling that with every disintegrated morsel consumed, they will have a change of heart and agree to your demands, for who wouldn't fall captive to the taste of these little devils.
In keeping with the mood of the times, and in support of the cause, Rupam Islam—champion of the bangla rock protest song—has come out with his rendition of the Hok Kolorob song.  Let there be noise.
Noise, I made all my life. Every time I wanted something. So you can imagine my battle cries each time I was refused the deem er devil. As a child, I would nudge at my dadu (maternal grandfather) to buy me these at the local Bengali sweetmeat shops, and ogle at these beauties stacked in the food stalls at (Durga) Pujo pandals, salivating, hoping someone would notice and buy me some, and finally coaxing the parents to let loose their purses.
Yes, I made a noise against those who ensured that an unbreachable distance was being maintained between me and the devil. This is fighting against injustice. How different can a michhil be then?
One is the desire to change the stasis in society; the other is the desire to change the monotony of taste in everyday meals. Tell me, what's my crime? What's my crime? All I ask for is the devil. Let the devil arise. What good comes of being a do-gooder anyway?
The devil is, at the outset, a microcosm of a michhil. Almost like the “salad bowl” Pablo Neruda conjures up in his poem Ode To Tomatoes marrying all ingredients in a happy union, indicative of the cosmopolitanism of the Spanish community in Chile; likewise the ingredients of the devil—a “bricolage” (aside: *tears of joy at finding the right word; thanks to Levi-Strauss and Derrida*) of minced mutton, boiled eggs, mashed boiled potatoes, chopped onions, chopped green chillies, chopped parsley leaves, salt, spices— all bound in a fine blend, difficult to ascertain where the taste of one ingredient ends and the other begins—all become one; one body, many textures, a unique taste. Likewise, protest marches are symbolic of the union of many personalities, where all differences blend to form one body of critical mass, marching forward, together, giving the michhil a unique character, a colourful cosmopolitanism. So what if one can cause indigestion, acidity, obesity, cardiac arrest, and the other might lead to the breaking of some bones, brain haemorrhage, or being jailed? Are these reasons enough to refuse a devil or refute a michhil? If you say yes, then I am sorry friend, shame on you. You will die a coward. 
But there’s still time to make amends. Next time your blood boils over an issue, carry out a michhil or make devils, eat them, and when the state machinery hurls stones at you, you hurl devils back at them.
P.S: A devil a day, keeps the rivals at bay!
(Disclaimer: Read it with a pinch of salt.)
Makes 10 devils

Eggs, boiled and halved: 5
Salt, a sprinkling
Pepper powder, a sprinkling
Egg, whisked: 1
Breadcrumbs: 200 gm (or as required)
Oil: for deep-frying

For the mince meat filling:

Mutton keema/mince: 500 gm
Bay leaf: 2
Onion, finely chopped: 2
Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
Garlic paste: 1.5 tbsp
Red chilli powder: 3/4 tsp
Green chillies, finely chopped: 2
Salt, to taste
Sugar, to taste (optional)
Fresh parsley/coriander, chopped finely: 1/2 cup
Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
Mustard oil: 2 tbsp

For the potato coating:

Potatoes, boiled and mashed: 8
Mustard oil: 1.5 tbsp
Onion, finely chopped: 1.5
Green chillies, finely chopped: 2
Salt, to taste
Sugar, to taste
Fresh parsley/coriander, chopped finely: 1/2 cup
Bhaja masala: 2 tsp (make it at home by first roasting and then grinding a couple of bay leaves, some coriander seeds, cumin seeds and dry red chillies into a powder)


1. For the keema filling: Heat oil in a deep-bottomed pan, add bay leaf, let it splutter for 30 seconds and then add the garam masala powder. Saute for 30 seconds more. Add onion, salt and sugar and cook on high till it turns translucent and almost golden. Add ginger and garlic paste and keep sauteing for 4-5 more minutes. 

2. Add the keema, green chillies and red chilli powder, mix well, cover and cook for 7-8 minutes. Uncover and cook till keema is done. Try not adding water because you want your keema really dry for it to take shape.Once keema is done, turn off the gas and mix the parsley well with the keema. Set aside.

3. For the potato mixture: Heat oil in a deep-bottomed pan. Add onion, salt and sugar and cook on high till it turns translucent and almost golden. Add ginger and keep sauteing for another couple of minutes. Add the mashed potato, green chillies and mix everything thoroughly. Add the bhaja masala and parsley and continue to mix well for the next two minutes. Turn off heat and let the potato cool. 

4. For the assembly: Lay the halved boiled eggs on a plate, scoop out the yolks. Sprinkle salt and pepper over them. Mix the yolks well with the keema filling (I skip this step because I don't eat egg yolks).

5. Once the potato has cooled, take a big handful between your palms, roll it into a ball, flatten it by pressing between your palms. Place an egg half on the potato patty, stuff the keema filling in the scooped out depression of the egg generously and then fold the loose ends of the potato patty around the egg-keema to form a slightly elongated and roundish chop-shape. Repeat till all the devils are shaped this way.

6. In a bowl with a wide surface whisk the eggs and in a another plate pour the breadcrumbs. Keep a third plate ready sprinkled with a little breadcrumbs to prevent the chops from sticking. With one hand dip the devil into the egg and place on the bed of breadcrumbs. With the other hand roll it gently in the crumbs making sure it doesn't break. DO NOT use the same hand for doing both as that will render the crumbs moist. Once fully coated on all sides, rest on the plate kept ready.

7. Heat sufficient oil in a non-stick kadhai till it starts to almost splutter. Gently drop a devil and wait for it to get crisp and brown on all sides. Start with high heat but moderate as and when necessary. Fry one devil at a time. Once done, use a slotted spoon to take it out of the pan and drain on a plate lined with kitchen towel/tissue. 

8. Serve hot with ketchup, mustard and onion rings!
Eat Like a Bong: Day 24
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