It is a popular village style snack in West Bengal as well as Bangladesh. Though it is not so popular in cities. But most people living in rural areas love this snack. It is really very delicious & crispy. You may find slightly bitterness in taste which is enjoyable. This leafy vegetable can be easily noticeable near the water body in almost every village across the region. It is also locally known as hinche shak. This helencha shak pakoda or hinche shak bora or watercress fritter is not just a delicious snack but also an easy to make snack.
Do you know that helencha is also called buffalo spinach in English? I think many people did not know this. Even I came to know that about a few months back. I do not know why this leafy vegetable named so. But it is a funny name. Is it not? What if I would say I am making buffalo spinach curry? It sounds truly non-veg, that too buffalo, haha.
I used to have a dry curry prepared with this leafy vegetable since my childhood. I think every Bengali has tried such helencha tarkari. But I never tried helencha pakoda till few years back when I tried it from a local telebhaja shop. I did not recognize the main ingredients. It was a massive pakoda priced Rs 8 per piece. I mean a pakoda which is 7-8 inch long and 3-4 inch wide. Can you believe that? That pakoda looks so different. Everybody was buying. So I asked the shopkeeper “What is that?”. He said helencha pakoda.
I loved that and after that, I prepared such hinche shak bora at home 2-3 times. I could not make those that big because they were using a big kadai which was half-filled with oil. So I did whatever is possible at home without compromising its taste. I enjoyed that a lot. So this time I am sharing it. It was not a secret recipe because I followed the traditional way of making any pakoda/bora in Bengali style. Every time, those pakodas are crispy & tasty. You should try it too.
Helencha pakoda recipe / Hinche shak bora recipe
- A handful of helencha stem cuttings
- ½ cup besan, chickpea flour
- 2 teaspoons kalonji/kalo jeera/nigella seeds
- 3 green chillies, finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, haldi
- Water as needed for making batter
- Enough refined oil for deep frying
- Take besan, kalonji, green chillies, salt, turmeric powder in a bowl and mix
- Now add water and mix properly to make a smooth batter that is not too think or too thick
- Now wash & clean helencha saag, cut stems of helencha into 3 inch size
- Take 2-3 pieces and dip into batter, coated properly
- Heat oil in a kadai and fry those batter-coated stems properly till turn into golden colour