In India, in my hometown, the monsoon rain fills the air with earthy fragrance. The dust settles. Leaves turn into bits of translucent emerald that glow against the dark, dark skies. When the sun breaks through a crack the result is a magical amalgamation of shadows and brilliance. Those are the days you want to remain outdoors as long as you can.
At sunset you are reminded of tea time and you come in to make a pot of aromatic chai. But not before you’ve phoned up a few friends to join you for bhajiyas – the real rainy-day treat. So easy and versatile, these fritters will turn any tea party into something to remember.
Bhajiyas, also known as pakoras, are chunks of fresh vegetables or slivers of sliced onion dipped in a batter of protein-rich chickpea flour (called besan) and deep fried. A great stand-alone snack that can also double as sandwich or wrap fillers, they are served with some sort of chutney, usually mint or tamarind, but ketchup or HP sauce works well too. Try them out and don’t be shy to play with the ingredients; the possibilities are endless and well worth the trip to an Indian store.
•1 cup chickpea flour
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 teaspoon chili powder
•1/2 teaspoon (altogether) ginger and garlic paste
•1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
•1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
•1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (or try whole coriander seeds, roasted and coarsely ground, for more flavour)
•2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
•3/4 cup water
•Enough oil for deep frying
•About two cups of any of the following: sliced potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, onion, spinach, cauliflower florets
1.Sift the chickpea flour into a bowl and mix in the salt, spices, garlic and chopped coriander.
2.Make a well in the center of the flour. Gradually pour the water into the well and mix to form a thick, smooth batter.
3.Over medium high heat in a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil hot enough to fry. (I test this out by dropping a very small amount of batter into it. If it splutters you're good to go.)
4.Dip and coat vegetables in the batter and fry them in small batches until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels before serving.
Enjoy warm with a dipping sauce. Yum!