Bhajias and Onion Pakoras

Bhajias and Onion Pakoras
Lakshmy Subramoniam

Bajjis and pakoras are appetizers that can be found on the menus of most Indian restaurants. Yes, it's deep fried. But vegan food doesn't always need to be raw salads and smoothies. I don't know what it is with Indian people and wanting to eat deep fried snacks on rainy days. But, there is something truly magical about eating these snacks with a steaming cup of vegan masala chai on a gloomy rainy evening.

And here is the recipe:

Bhajias (or Bajjis)

Vegan, gluten-free 

Yield: For 4
Prep time: 10 mins 
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gram flour (or besan)
  • 1 tbsp rice flour
  • 1 tbsp hot oil (oil heated on a stovetop)
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder (can substitute with paprika)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda 
  • Salt to taste
  • Water 
  • Oil for deep-frying (any flavorless oil such as sunflower, grapeseed, etc)
  • 2 small yellow potatoes thinly sliced
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant thinly sliced

Directions:

Soak the thinly sliced potatoes and eggplant in cold water to prevent them from browning and set aside.

In a small ramekin, add a tbsp of hot oil and the baking soda and mix until there are no lumps. Set the mixture aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the gram flour, rice flour, red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, and mix till homogenous.

To this add enough water slowly to bring the batter to a pancake like consistency. Add the hot oil and baking soda mixture made earlier and mix well. Let the batter rest for 10 - 15 mins. If the batter is too loose, add more gram flour (besan).

Place a skillet on high heat and fill with enough oil for deep frying. To check if the oil is hot enough, add around half a tsp of batter to the oil to see if it bubbles to the top. If it does, your oil is ready for deep frying!

Take a slice of potato or eggplant that is soaking in water and dab with a paper towel to absorb the excess moisture. Add the slice into the batter directly with a spoon and toss around to coat with the batter evenly on all sides.

Once coated with the batter, gently add the slice to the skillet for deep frying with a spoon to prevent burning. If you're a deep frying wizard you can use your hands too. Proceed with caution!

Let the veggie slice cook for 2 - 3 mins on each side or until golden and crispy throughout. Use a slotted spoon while picking up your bajjis to drain the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess grease.

You can try the same recipe with spinach leaves, steamed cauliflower, chillis, or whatever your heart desires! *

Onion Pakoras

Vegan, gluten-free 

Yield: For 4
Prep time: 10 mins 
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup gram flour (or besan)
  • 1 tbsp rice flour
  • 1 tbsp hot oil (oil heated on a stovetop)
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder (can substitute with paprika)
  • ¼ tsp baking soda 
  • 1 thai green chili finely chopped (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Water (optional)
  • Oil for deep-frying (any flavorless oil such as sunflower, grapeseed, etc)
  • 1 large or 2 small onions thinly sliced

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, add a tbsp of hot oil and the baking soda and mix until there are no lumps.

To this, add the sliced onions, green chili, red chili powder, salt, and mix the contents gently to prevent the onions from becoming soggy.

Sprinkle in the gram flour and rice flour and mix everything gently with light hands once again. The mixture should hold from the moisture in the onions but if it doesn't add a tbsp of water and mix well.

Place a skillet on high heat and fill with enough oil for deep frying. To check if the oil is hot enough, add around half a tsp of batter to the oil to see if it bubbles to the top. If it does, your oil is ready for deep frying!

Spoon a tbsp of the onion mixture and lower into the pan for deep frying. Fry for around 2 - 3 minutes on each side or until dark brown and crispy. We are not looking for any particular shape here. This is a judgment-free zone!

Serve your bhajias and pakoras with tomato chutney or a mint-cilantro chutney!

 

*Bhajia/Bajji Variations

Cauliflower bajji: Parboil/Steam bit sized florets, dip in batter, and fry.

Green chili bajji: Take large chilis which are not usually hot, slit them, deseed them, dip in batter, and deep fry.

Spinach Bajji: Take large spinach leaves, wash, dry, dip in batter, and fry.

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