We are all brought up with different ‘staples’ in our diet. Indian food was never a staple for us, more a take away treat, like many children of my era. However, as a nation, we seem to have completely embraced the delicately spiced nuances which are associated with asian cooking, although I would suggest that, in the main, it is still experienced via the restaurant or take away. And I include myself in that category.
However, I am trying to conquer the art of cooking different cultural staples, if nothing else, just to see how easy it is. Enter the Onion Bhaji, or as son #1 used to call them, Onions and Bhajis.
We are extremely lucky where we live, to be surrounded by different cultural food grocers, so finding all the ingredients is very, very easy. I just pop down the local shop. However, I am acutely aware that not everyone is as lucky, so, before I go any further I’d like to remind you all that recipes for savoury foods are just a guideline, nothing more. If you don’t have it in, and cannot easily get hold of it, either miss it out or replace it with something you do have that is complimentary. This may take a little research but trust me, it’s really not worth getting all hot and bothered because you can’t find fresh curry leaves …
Right. So the ingredients I used are as follows:
60g gram flour, 30g rice flour – I used ground rice here as I didn’t have any rice flour and ground rice is just a more coarse version of the flour. You could, should you so desire, just use gram flour in which case it is 90g (I know, mathematical genius…)
Juice of ¼ lemon, 1 tbsp ghee or butter, melted, or, in my case, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. It’s personal preference here, but I also use vegetable oil to cook the Bhajis in so it’s a win win for me.
½ tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chilli powder, 2 green chillies – the thin ones are better as they have more heat – 2 tsp fresh ginger and two cloves of garlic chopped together and 2 onions halved and sliced. Small pinch of salt.
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the oil, lemon juice and just enough cold water to make it into the consistency of Yorkshire Pudding batter. Add all the spices, mix, then add the chopped onion.
At this juncture you may wish to add some fresh, chopped coriander, curry leaves or both.
Bring a deep pan of vegetable oil to a heat of 180C – now then, here’s a thing. I had to look this up because I don’t have a deep fat fryer or a thermometer to test the heat. I go by throwing a small piece of bread into the oil. If it fizzles up and becomes a crouton in seconds, I know the oil is hot enough. Not very scientific I know, but it’s the best I’ve got to give at present.
Anyway, when the oil has reached the desired temperature, take a dessertspoon of the mixture and drop it into the oil. It should fizzle and rise to the top immediately, if it doesn’t, your oil is not hot enough, so whip it out and wait. Keep turning the Bhaji until all areas are golden brown, then fish out and pop on a sheet of kitchen roll so that any excess fat is soaked up.
In my pan I use for frying, I can fit about 3 Bhajis in, so, prior to cooking, I put my oven on to keep already cooked Bhajis warm, whilst cooking the others. This mixture makes between 6 and 8, so they won’t be in there long.
I then prepare a yoghurt dip by adding 1 – 2 teaspoons of mint sauce to 1 – 2 tablespoon of natural yoghurt. Lush.
The first batch I made were not as delicious as I thought so I readjusted the balance of spices to the above recipe. You, too, may have to readjust until you find the right spice level for your personal preference. The other little tip I have, is, make sure that the batter is not too runny. You can always add a little more water if it feels too stiff but it’s an absolute nightmare to readjust quantities if it’s runny.
Onion Bhajis. Simple as.