First of all, I have to apologize for my previous post. Never again will I stoop down to such a low-level and produce a filthy post on a pathetic piece of trash that thought it had the guts to even dare call itself a cereal. I know that by saying this, you may begin to think that I am a hypocrite, but fear not! I have loads of new material and inspirations to keep this blogging running, starting off with this delicious recipe that should hopefully gain me redemption.
I shall begin by posing a question. Have you ever grown up eating food that you never particularly cared for, but then found yourself desiring it more than ever after the food went absent from your life? I think that is the story behind these bhajiyas, that I pleaded my mom to make when I went home last weekend. It so happened that I was in luck as my mom’s childhood friend was coming over to visit too, and with both of them being fabulous cooks, there was bound to be a feast in the kitchen.
Bhajiyas are gram-flour fritters that are also known as pakodas in Hindi. They can be made with all sorts of vegetables and they are wildly popular India, especially on typical monsoon day, where the cityscape is drenched in rain, the ceiling is leaking buckets, and the electricity fades in and out. Naturally, the only thing one can dodays like that is to sit, drink a hot cup of chai, and nosh on a plate of piping hot bhajiyas fresh out of the oil. While monsoon season is unheard of in the U.S., I would say that these can also be perfect on a snowy day, when a foot of snow traps in your house and cause you to bundle up in thick sweaters and warm blankets.
I actually had the pleasure of watching the cooking process this time around instead of actually partaking in it, and I have to say that it brought back great memories of nostalgia. You see, my love for food arose from the endless Sundays I would spend as a young child sitting on the kitchen counter and watching my mother cook meals for the week. The watching grew into ingredient fetching, which blossomed into menu planning, and that finally led me into finally stepping behind the stove to cook a real meal for the first time at the age of 16. Since then, I don’t know what I would do if cooking was never a part of my life. Hence, I sat down at my old roosting spot along the counter and gazed with delight as my mother and her friend chopped up potatoes, onions, cauliflower, and jalapeno, mixed up the batter with their bare hands, and plopped the edible delights into a vat of bubbling oil. The gorgeous sunlight of midday poured through kitchen windows; adding to beauty of the moment as the soft light shined upon the kitchen goddesses, and illuminated the ingredients with a golden sparkle. Let’s also not forget that it allowed me to snap a handful of gorgeous pictures and even videotape portions of the process.
Of course, the best part was eating the golden bhajiyas. We managed to make three varieties. Chunky cauliflower, surprisingly mild jalapeno, and my personal favorite, the methi-flecked mixed vegetable bhajiyas consisting of potatoes, onion, and spinach. Dipped in a tangy and very simple cilantro chutney, these bhajiyas were simply Indian comfort food done right.
Makes a ton, but since Indian food is very much based on approximating, you can adjust the proportions of ingredients to your needs.
- 1 large potato, finely cubed
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried methi (fenugreek) leaves
- 2-3 stalks of green onion, finely chopped
- a healthy handful of spinach leaves, chiffonade chop
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon chaat masala, optional
- salt to taste
- 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- pinch cayenne pepper
- salt to taste
- 3-4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped in half lengthwise
- 3-4 cups besan (chickpea/gram flour)
- 1-2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt to taste
- 1 large bunch fresh cilantro
- 4-5 stalks green onion
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- salt to taste
- water as needed
- To prepare the cilantro chutney, simply throw all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. It should be thick, yet still pourable to a certain degree.
- First prepare the batter. Mix the besan, water, salt, and cayenne pepper till the mixture begins to resemble a thick pancake batter. It should look a little something like this.
- Then set out three large bowls. In one bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the mixed-vegetable bhajiyas. In a second bowl, place all of the cauliflower bhajiya ingredients, and in a third bowl, place the jalapeno bhajiya ingredients. DO NOT MIX THE ANY OF THE VEGETABLES WITH THE BATTER YET!
- Heat up about an 1 1/2 inches of canola or vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Please note that you will be deep-frying these, so place enough oil in the pan to allow for this process to occur.
- You will know the oil is hot enough when a drop of batter inserted in the oil will float up instantly. Once this happens, go ahead and dip your cauliflower pieces in the batter and fry for about 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat, till the bhajiyas are golden brown. Place them on a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Then coat up your jalapeno slices with batter, and fry for about 3-4 minutes over medium heat.
- Once you have fried all of the cauliflower and jalapenos, about half of the batter or so should be remaining. At this point, dump in your mixed-vegetable mixture into the batter and mix well until incorporated. It should look a little like this.
- Now drop about tablespoonfuls of the batter and vegetable mixture into the oil and fry until golden brown, around 4-5 minutes.
- Serve your bhajiyas nice and hot with some cilantro chutney.
- Besan is also known as chickpea or gram flour. It has a sweet and slightly nutty taste and it’s an absolute essential for this recipe. You can find it in Indian grocery stores.
- Chaat Masala is a blend of tangy Indian spices. It too can be found in Indian grocery stores along with methi or fenugreek leaves. You can find these in the dry form where they are often marketed as “Kasoori Methi”, or some Indian grocery stores and larger supermarkets as well sell the fresh variety when it is in season
- Beverage Pairing: The most beloved pairing with bhajiyas is a steaming hot cup of chai, or Indian tea infused with flavors of cardamom, ginger, and other aromatics. However, if you are feeling naughty, many adults also enjoy these fritters with a chilled glass of beer. I think a lighter variety of the stuff would work well here to balance out the richness of the fried bhajiyas.
- I took videos of the cooking process and intended to upload videos onto this post, but WordPress won’t let me unless I purchase an expensive upgrade! So I put them up on YouTube. Please watch them so you can get a better idea of how they are cooked. The links are here:
- Frying the Cauliflower Bhajiyas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KWXOYgZC2o&feature=youtu.be
- Dipping the Jalapeno Bhajiyas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aftn8KJs6J8&feature=youtu.be
- Mixed Vegetable Bhajiyas Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K78hj5txqM&feature=youtu.be
- Mixed Vegetable Bhajiyas Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDCVYFjVo-A&feature=youtu.be