Onion Bhaji

onion bhaji

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Balls of Wonder

Healthy Cocoa Truffles

These little balls of wonder are to die for.  And what’s more they don’t have a grain of sugar in them.  Not one iota.

Now this is the thing.  Whenever I have a go at making balls of things, they never look as they should, in my opinion.  I’m not the world’s best circle roller.  Actually, I have no idea how those people on the telly do it, but it always looks so simple. Anyway, that doesn’t detract from the fact that they are delicious, and, I’m sure much more healthy than other round sweet things you could make.

Why? Because the only ingredients they have in them are dates, cashew nuts, raisins or sultanas, cocoa powder, ground rice and water.

Now I know all dried fruit has natural sugars, in fact some are as high as 70%, but what they also have is fibre which, in my book, makes them good for you and I have decided I am an expert on the matter since I once gave up sugar for six weeks, four hours and thirty seven minutes.

*moves swiftly on*

The trick, I think, is to make sure you get the proportions right.  45% or so of the mixture needs to be dates, 25% cashew nuts, 15% raisins or sultanas and 5% cocoa. The more observant of you will, by now, have realised that my ingredients add up to 100% and there is, as yet, no mention of the ground rice.  That is because it is an optional added extra that I literally just sprinkle a little of over everything else before setting to, and pulping.  It adds a little texture and fortitude, but they would be just as scrumptious without it.

As a slight diversion away from the subject in hand, but a necessary discussion to have, I have realised that to get any further on my culinary journey, I really must think about investing in a food processor.  I used to have one, but a combination of age and not paying attention when it was on meant that, gradually, all that was left was the motor.

For a while I convinced myself that I would replace the parts that had worn or broken, but one day, in a moment of enlightenment, I made the executive decision to ditch it.

Since then I have relied upon my trusty steed, otherwise known as a hand blender, to see me through the ‘make into a pulp’ or ‘liquidising’ phases.  However, even the trusty steed has it’s limits, and today we reached one of them.  You really do need a food processor for these little balls of wonder.  I managed with a combination of using the mezaluna to cut the big pieces down to size, and the trusty steed to completely blend together, but it wasn’t without hazard and not the most enjoyable process, whereas with a food processor it’s bish bash bosh done.

Once the mixture is all pulped, you may need to add a little water to bring it all together.  Then roll into balls and roll these balls in some cocoa powder.  The size of the ball is up to you, but there is a certain satisfaction about just popping something whole into your mouth and savouring, so I would recommend a small teaspoon size or less.

The only down side to this taste sensation is that it is very difficult to not scoff the lot in one day.  Consequently, I have absolutely no idea how well they last.

So if any of you do decide to give them a go and get past the 24 hour mark, do let me know what happens next.