This is a relatively unfussy recipe, and this time I am not giving exact quantities as they need to be made to your taste. Anything can be made into bhajis, my favourite are aubergines, as the spicy, crispy coating really complements the smooth, almost creamy mild flesh. Onion bhajis are almost a staple UK curry house favourite and you can jazz them up by adding shredded cabbage and chillies. The ones in the picture are cabbage and onion. Every household will have thier own bhaji recipe, this is mine.
This is the recipe for the basic bhaji batter. Vary it according to taste.
About 250 gms chickpea flour (also called gram flour, available at Indian groceries, and big Tescos)
About 100 gm rice flour (adds to the crispiness)
About 3 tsps mild chilly powder (or 1 tsp hot chilly powder)... taste, taste, taste.
About 1 or 2 tsps salt, again, to taste.
1 tsp baking powder or bicarb of soda
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala (optional)
Sparkling water (or just plain, if you can't be bovvered)
Oil for deep frying
In a bowl, mix together the flours, add 2 tsps of the mild chilly powder (1/2 tsp hot), cumin, baking powder, garam masala, salt and cumin seeds. Add water slowly, using your hands to mix the flours and spices into a thickish batter. It should be the consistency of thick double cream or custard.
Now taste, and add the remaining chilly powder if the batter is not spicy enough for your taste. Increase the amount of chilly powder, but keep tasting. Better to underspice, and then add more spice and salt according to taste, as opposed to overspicing. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes, and the batter is ready to use.
For aubergine bhajis, cut the aubergines into rounds of about 3/4 cms. Not too thick, as they won't cook and not too thin as they will turn to mush. Dip them into the batter and deep fry till brown. Drain on kitchen paper. For onion bhajis, shred onion finely, and mix with the batter. The onion/ cabbage should be more than the batter, and it should come together as a loose sticky ball. Drop handfuls of the mixture very carefully into the hot oil and fry till crisp.
Any vegetable you like can be made into bhajis, try cauliflower florets, green peppers, sliced potatoes, courgettes etc. Seve with a hot cup of chai, and some tomato ketchup, coconut or mint chutney.