Pattanam Pakoda From Tamil Nadu Is The Perfect Anytime Snack To Curb Hunger

One of my first memories of biting into a crunchy pakoda was at a family wedding when I was still in primary school. I remember the wedding cook referring to the snack as Pattanam Pakoda and it was one of the most delicious snacks I’ve ever sampled. The cook was originally from Thanjavur district where my mother’s family also hails from. I remember trying to decode the name of this pakoda at the wedding. It was the same discussion I had with Chef Shri Bala, at her new Chennai restaurant – Yercaud Kitchen, where she showcases some rare heirloom recipes from Tamil Nadu. The Pattanam Pakoda at Yercaud Kitchen (see recipe) was spot on and brought back childhood memories of all the times I’ve savoured this dish.

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Pattanam (or big city in Tamil) is generally referred to as erstwhile Madras, where the British empire began. The city’s roots can be traced back to 22 August 1639 when the village of Madraspatnam or Chennapatnam was bought by East India Company from Damarla Venkatadri Nayaka, the viceroy of the Vijayanagar empire. August 22 is now commemorated as Madras Day. The pakoda was a popular snack and perfect for travel. Back then many train commuters from Thanjavur to Madras (now Chennai) packed these crunchy snacks for their overnight journey. It’s why the name Pattanam Pakoda has stuck.

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Photo Credit: Ashwin Rajgopalan

Pakoda or pakora or pakodi is a dish that’s found in different forms and names across India. The name is believed to be derived from the Sanskrit word pakvavata which refers to cooked lumps. There is also a reference to parika in the 12th-century Sanskrit text Manasollasa by the Chalukya King Someshvara III. This encyclopaedic work covers a wide range of topics including food and recipes. In modern Chennai, the pakoda is a popular snack at local tea stalls and restaurants where diners pair it with filter coffee. There are different versions of pakoda across Tamil Nadu, the Pattanam Pakoda is slightly crunchy on the outside with a soft centre and is crafted by combining three types of flour. The rava in the mixture adds an interesting dimension to the textures.

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This is an easy snack to make and a snack that’s also a quick fix for unexpected guests at many homes in Tamil Nadu. You can pair it with a coconut chutney but it’s usually eaten without any dips and tastes equally delicious when it’s fresh off the pan or even after a few hours. It’s why it remains a popular travel snack. Chef Shri Bala believes that there are two key steps in the recipe – integrating baking soda with butter/ghee and adding hot oil to the mixture before adding water. You can try this recipe at home:

Pattanam Pakoda Recipe

Recipe courtesy – Chef Shri Bala, Yercaud Kitchen, Chennai


  • Besan flour – 1/2 cup
  • Roasted Bengal gram flour – 1/2 cup
  • Rice flour – 1 tbsp
  • Rava 1 tbsp
  • Onions – 1 medium size finely chopped
  • Green chillies – 2
  • Ginger – 1/4 piece
  • Curry leaves – 1 Sprig
  • Fresh Coriander 1 Sprig
  • Ghee or butter (room temperature) – 1 tbsp
  • Baking soda – 1/4 tsp
  • Water – to sprinkle
  • Salt – to taste
  • Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
  • Cooking Oil (to add to the mixture) and for deep frying


  1. Mix baking soda and butter in a bowl till it reaches a slightly creamy texture.
  2. Now add all the ingredients and mix well.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil for deep frying in a pan on a low to medium flame.
  4. Add all the other wet ingredients and mix with a ladle or spoon.
  5. Sprinkle water a little and mix the dough. It should be firm – you should be able to make small round balls.
  6. Don’t overheat the oil, fry on low flame.
  7. Fry them golden brown so that it cooks all sides as well as inside.
  8. Serve hot or store in an airtight container.

Try this recipe soon!

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About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie – a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.

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