My memories of returning home from school during Ramadan are etched in my mind. I would walk in with my chest puffed up with pride, having spent half a day of fasting without so much as a wink in the way of temptation. And then, as the door would shut behind me, an aroma would waft by. It would flutter past my nostrils and tip toe into every hungry nook of my face, my throat and the growling pit of my stomach. My mum's kachoris. The sweet smell of those frying devils would undo me, making my good senses trickle to my toes in a steady stream of unrelenting hunger.
Kachoris are akin to samosas, though with a few differences that make kachoris my preferred iftar snack. While both are the progeny of India's everlasting love for deep-fried stuffed snacks, the round or disc-shaped kachoris are almost buoyant in comparison. My quibble with samosas is that for every bite of crunchy, golden-cratered crust, you have to wade through mounds of potatoes and peas before you are reunited with the crust again. Thankfully, kachoris skip the dense stuffing and replace it with a light sautéed lining of ground lentils, gram flour and spices. The lining is infused with fennel seeds so fragrant that I blame them for being the villain of my unholy thoughts as a fasting schoolgirl.
Iftar would reward me with a pile of puffed-up homemade kachoris that have yet to find their commercial match. I'd crack open the flaky crust, peer into the masala-dotted cavity and spoon over a sweet tangy drizzle of tamarind chutney. With every fennel-filled bite, I'd digest just how privileged I was to not just be taught a lesson of discipline and empathy throughout the day, but to be rewarded with such savoury goodness at the end.
Arva Ahmed blogs about hidden food gems in Old Dubai at www.ILiveinaFryingPan.com