Sunanda's mother Aunty Esme briefly tempted me off my diet with the most sinful combination of all that is not allowed; potatoes, meat and deep fry. With superhuman exercise of will, I restricted myself to just half but the drool covered the entire floor. The object of temptation was something that landed up from foreign shores, but became distinctively Indian – in this case East Indian.
Its the Potato Chop.
The actual item is rather simple, a mashed potato shell filled with mince of some kind, coated in breadcrumbs and fried. A great potato chop is a perfect balance of the fatty smooth goodness of the potato contrasted with the crunch of the outer crust and the chewy, spicy flavour-burst of the mince inside. Maybe it was all that self control, but yesterday's potato chops were the best I've had in a while. The potatoes seemed more luscious, the mince juicier, the crumbed outer more perfect.
I find the naming of "potato chop" quite amusing. The East Indians of Mumbai as well as those Indians who actually live in the east – Bengalis – have both adopted this form enthusiastically if in slightly different ways. The East Indians focus on the humble shell of mashed potato while the Bengalis highlight the fancier filling – mutton chops, or prawn or veggie. Both communities inherited the name from a fundamental misconception; when the British mems taught their desi cooks the popular breaded veal chop, the cooks got the dish right but the terminology wrong. The "chop" the mems referred to was a cut of pork or veal; the desi cooks applied it to the form rather than the substance - any potato encased crumb-fried stuffed savoury, even vegetarian, became "chops". They should properly be called croquettes.
There aren't that many places to buy a Potato Chop in Bandra. An old lady sits on the Chimbhai side of St. Andrews Church at around 7pm selling a range of them, as does a man on D'Monte Road (if you can find him or the road). Kalpana Snacks in a Bandra bylane behind St. Peters Church makes some, Mikneil tucked away in a tiny nook on St. Pauls Road will have them, A1 Bakery has a passable imitation, Bandra club will sell passable ones if you can get someone to take you, Bandra Fest and Christmas Fair will have some stalls – that's it.
Basically, make sure to be on Aunty Esme's right side. Because its worth it.