Yum yum yum!! Another snack I adore from Mangalore. I can eat goli baje by the bucketful if given the opportunity. Goli baje are basically deep fried seasoned balls of flour and yoghurt, lightly spiced with some green chilli, ginger, fresh coriander and even curry leaves. The literal translation of the words means, 'round fried snack'. Its famous all around Mangalore, and many a time I have sat in a hotel in the middle of nowhere, sipping strong hot coffee and savouring these mini bites of delight with sambar and coconut chutney, sometimes even with good old ketchup.
It is another one of those snacks that is deeply associated with my memories of Mangalore, and home. There were days when my mum would come home from her teaching job absolutely exhausted, and she couldn't be bothered to make us anything for tea. My sister and I used to be sent to Gokul Vegetarian Hotel to buy snacks, and ten to one, we would end up bringing back home goli baje which we would then share with mum and a hot cup of tea. Or when we got older, we would spend hours with friends at roadside eateries just eating snacks after snacks after snacks. Its a miracle I haven't ended up weighing ten tonnes, the way we ingested all that cholestrol heavy food :-)
This is one of those snacks we never really bothered to make at home. I mean, why would we go to the trouble of making up the batter and spending at least an hour over a hot stove when we could just pop around to the local eatery?
However, when I moved to England, and subsequently, here to Edmonton, there are times when I crave the comforting food of my childhood and most of my adolescence. Sadly for me, I haven't found a single place in Edmonton that sells goli baje (I am sure I would keel over with a heart attack if I did, I'd be eating there so often). I have found a nice South Indian place though, more on that in a later post. So coming back to my point, if I want goli baje I have to make them myself. Bah humbug, all that work!!
So anyway, armed with a list of ingredients off my mum (I swear to God, she is so imprecise in her measurements, a bit of this and a bit of that, and yet her food somehow tastes glorious!!) I decided this afternoon was going to be my goli baje time. It gets dark early nowadays, and its so cold outside, it would be just criminal not to gorge full of comfort food! Or at least, that's my excuse.
The ingredients are fairly basic, more often that not you will have them in your pantry at any given point. You do need to get a feel for the thickness of the batter though, but that comes very quickly with some practice. And hey, you can always add more water or flour without messing with the taste.
I tinkered a bit with mum's recipe, to make sure I had some basic ideas of quantities, as normally with a recipe like this I would have eyeballed it. So here's the modified recipe. Do play around with the quantity of green chilli and ginger until you get a sense of what suits your spice tolerance level. My mum suggests letting the batter ferment for at least 6 hours, I say ha!! to that, but good on you if you have the patience to do that, 30 minutes is my limit :-)
I served the goli baje with coconut chutney, recipe here.
1 cup plain flour (maida)
1/4 cup besan (chickpea/gram flour)
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1 tsp bicarb of soda (substitute baking powder, if you don't have the bicarb)
Around 1/4 cup water, plus maybe a little bit more.
2 tbsp sugar
1 or 2 tsp salt (go easy on the salt, add more only if you feel the batter needs it)
Around 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 green chilly, finely chopped (add more if you wish to increase the spice level)
Roughly 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
Enough oil for deep frying
Sift together the flour, besan, bicarb of soda, sugar and salt. Mix well, then add the yoghurt, mixing well. Now slowly whisk in the water, a little at a time until the batter just very heavily slides off a spoon, the consistency of very thick clotted cream...
Stir in the ginger, chilli and fresh coriander. Let the batter sit for around 30 minutes or up to six hours. Or even overnight in a fridge.
Heat enough oil for deep frying in a pan, until it gets hot enough that if you drip in a drop of batter, its should quickly rise to the surface covered in bubbles. Turn the heat down to medium.
Drop in spoonfuls of the batter, not too much at a time, as the bajes will fluff up in the oil. Deep fry for roughly five to seven minutes, until they are a light golden brown colour. Don't worry if they are odd shapes and sizes, just adds to the fun!
Using a slotted spoon, lift them gently from the oil and drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Repeat until the batter is all used up.
Serve hot with chutney or ketchup and a hot coffee/tea. The bajes will be crisp on the outside and almost squishy elastic on the inside!