Not for ArachnophobicsI have recently been thumbing through Indian cook books researching menus for a wedding we will be catering next year.The bride to be is of Goan Irish descent.While thumbing through starters I unearthed Bhajias.
Now I have never attempted to make these even though they have always been a much-loved favourite, but how surprised was I when I saw how they should be properly made.
This is probably the most popular of all Indian snacks and the most commonly found throughout India.They are just one variety of the wider pakora family often made with aubergine, potato, spinach, plantain, paneer or cauliflower.In the UK,a nation never renowned for its subtle taste, the pungent onion "bhajji" reigns supreme as the king of pakoras.It is also the most misunderstood and incorrectly made.It is very simple and quick to make, and if done properly, the results will astound you.The correct term is Bhajia which simply means fritter.Like many adopted British dishes the bhajias you see in shops and even restaurants throughout the UK do not always represent the true bhajia the Indians know and love.They should not be the size of a tennis ball for starters.They should be flatter and not really have any shape at all. I had an expat craving recently and I thought I would give the true recipe a whirl.I was amazed.I imagine that what I made was similar to those made in Indian homes.I hope so anyway.If the wedding couple decide on these as a possible canapé option I will have to ensure against arachnophobic guests having panic attacks and screaming on the dance floor.
2 medium onions
2 green chillies, finely minced
1 level tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin, crushed coarsely
1/2 tsp Ajwain (lovage),crushed also known as thymol or carom seeds
(I used dried thyme)
1/2 tsp turmeriuc
1/2 tsp lemon juice
6- 7 tbsp chickpea flour
salt to taste
Sunflower to deep fry
Two tbsp water
Slit the onions in half,remove the root stubs and slice them as finely as you can.
Place in a deep bowl and add the green chillies,chilli powder, coriander,cumin,ajwain or thyme,turmeric and lemon juice.Seive the chickpea flour with the salt.
Heat the oil in saucepan deep enough to hold oil for deep frying or a deep fat fryer.
Mix the chickpea flour slowly into the onions and rub it with your fingers,until the mix is firm and sticky.Add the water and mix for afurther 1~2 minutes.Check for salt it is likely you will need to add some at this point.
Keep a strainer ready over a bowl for draining the bhajias when ready.
With your already messy fingers put small dollops of the batter into the oil to fry.
Do not put too many in the oil together when frying or else you will have soggy bhajias.
Each bhajia should be no bigger than a small fritter,approximately 2.5cm.
Do not keep the oil too hot.The fritter should fry slowly so that it gets crisp and golden.If the oil is too hot the bhajias will fry too fast and remain raw and gooey inside.If you then try to refry,they will burn,remain soggy and taste bitter.
On the other hand,if you want to serve them later,you can half fry and remove them.Fry when you are ready in hot oil this time.If the oil is not hot when refrying,the bhajias will absorb too much oil.
Serve the bhajias with any chutney of your choice.