Onion Bhaji/Fritters

Deep-fried Pakoras and Bhajis have always been my favorite and love having them as a side with rice/Sambar/Rasam. My mom regularly made these and regardless of what type she made (potato, raw plantain, etc), there always had to be onion bhajis as well made specially for my sister who always insisted on these! It worked out well for me as I got to enjoy more than one variety! This recipe is one step above the basic bhaji and uses aromatics such as garlic, cumin and curry leaves for an enhanced flavor. Enjoy these as a side for lunch/dinner when you are out of veggies or as a snack on a cold rainy day with some piping hot chai!

Ingredients:

Onion, sliced lengthwise – 1 cup
Besan/ Chickpea flour – 3 tbsp
Rice flour – 3 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
Garlic, crushed and finely chopped – 1 to 2
Curry leaves, finely chopped – 6 to 8
Baking soda – a pinch
Salt – to taste
Oil – for deep frying

Yield: 2 servings

Method:

  • In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients except the onions

  • Gradually add water to make a thick paste. Start off with 2-3 tbsp of water and add more if needed. The consistency must be like a paste, slightly thicker than you would use for potato or plantain bhajis

  • Add the sliced onions and mix well. The batter should only lightly coat the onion

  • Heat oil in a kadai/wok
  • When the oil is ready (a small piece of the batter dropped should immediately rise to the top), add the onions. Use your fingers to separate them out as you are dropping them in the oil so as to not form big lumps. Also, do not overcrowd them or they will become soggy
  • Fry until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel
  • Serve as a side with any meal or as an evening snack

Bhel Puri

Chaat for me, is a meal in itself. And bhel puri might seem like a snack but I can have it for lunch and dinner! Anyway…my constant disappointment with the chaat we get here in Austin is what led me to even try making bhel puri at home. This bhel puri is not the kind you get in chaat shops in India, which is wet from the addition of lentils. My version is the dry kind, which you get from push carts in Bangalore.
If you have all your ingredients chopped up and ready, this can serve as a quick weeknight dinner. Just try making it once, and you will be hooked! You can make it as healthy as you like and play around with what goes in it. In this recipe, you do not have to go by the exact quantities mentioned. Feel free to experiment and alter them according to your taste. Enjoy!

Bhel Puri

Ingredients:

Puffed Rice – 3 cups
Roasted peanuts – 1/4 cup
Onions – 1/2 cup
Tomato – 1
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric – a pinch
Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
Chaat Masala – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Puri – 5-10
Flat puri/Papdi – 5
Fresh coriander – 1/2 cup

Green chutney
Green chillies – 4
Fresh coriander – 1 cup

Tamarind chutney
Tamarind – lemon-sized
Sugar/Jaggery – 1 tsp

Method:

  • Grind the green chillies and coriander with a little water to make the green chutney
  • Grind the tamarind and sugar with a little water to make the tamarind chutney
  • Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well
  • Add 1 tablespoon each of green and tamarind chutney
  • You can adjust the quantities of each ingredient as per your liking
  • Serve immediately

Note: You can add grated carrot and finely chopped cucumber to the bhel puri

Potato Bajji

When it comes to pakoras and bajjis, potato bajji is my all-time favorite. Very rarely have I come across someone who doesn’t like potatoes and if it isĀ deep fried, who wouldn’t want it. This is a quick snack and can be served as a side with rice or as an evening snack with coffee or tea. I have used Kasmiri chilli powder instead of regular chilli powder for some added color.

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Ingredients:

Potato, large – 1
Besan – 1/3 cup
Rice flour – 1/3 cup
Kashmiri chilli powder – 1 tsp
Baking soda – a pinch
Salt – to taste
Sunflower oil – for deep frying

Yield : 12 to 15

Method:

  • Peel the potato and cut into thin slices. You can use a mandoline but I prefer using a knife as I like the slices slightly thicker
  • Wash and pat dry with a paper towel
  • In a bowl, mix together besan, rice flour, chilli powder, baking soda and salt with water into a thick batter, just thick enough to coat a thin layer on the potato slices. Using rice flour helps make the batter light and also gives the bajji a crispier texture

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  • Heat oil in a kadai
  • Add a small drop of the batter to check if the oil has reached the desired temperature. The batter should immediately puff up and rise to the top
  • Dip each potato slice in the batter and fry in the oil till golden brown
  • Serve hot with rice and sambar/rasam or as a snack with coconut chutney

Masala Puri

Chaat is by-far my absolute favorite food to eat. Ever since my move to the US, it’s among the top things I miss about home. Back in Bangalore, it was a weekly routine for me to walk down to the roadside chaatwallah and gorge on Bhel Puri, Masala Puri and of course, Paani Puri. While chaat is available here, it comes nowhere close to how it tastes in India. Masala Puri, in particular, is not even available. I first made this with my sister who got the recipe from her friend. I now make it quite often with my own favorite toppings! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do šŸ™‚

Masala Puri

Ingredients:

For the masala
Dried green peas – 2 cups

Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
Cloves – 4
Red Chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Chaat masala – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil

For the green chutney
Fresh coriander – 1 cup
Green chillies – 4

For the tamarind chutney
Tamarind – lemon-sized
Sugar – 1 tsp

For the garnish
Onions – 1 medium-sized
Tomato – 1
Grated Carrot – 1/2 cup

Fresh CorianderĀ – 1/2 cup
Plain Bhujia/Chickpea crisps – 1 cup
Puri – 15

Method:

Masala

  • Soak the dry green peas overnight in water. Pressure cook with enough water for 5 to 6 whistles
  • Heat oil in a wok or deep vessel. Add cinnamon and cloves. Once they pop, add the masala powders
  • Add the cooked peas and mix well
  • Add salt to taste and bring the peas to a boil. The consistency should be thickĀ but pourable

Green chutney

  • Grind coriander (both leaves and stalk) with green chillies, adding a little water. Keep aside

Tamarind Chutney

  • Soak the tamarind in half cup of water for about an hour. Alternatively, you can microwave the tamarind with the water for about 2 minutes. This helps save on soaking time
  • Grind the tamarind-water mixture with sugar. Add more water if required

Assembling the dish

  • In a bowl/plate, take two generous helpings of the peas. Add finely chopped onions, carrot and tomatoes
  • Add a teaspoon each of green chutney and tamarind chutney
  • Sprinkle coriander leaves
  • Stir in the plain bhujia
  • Crush the crisp puri and mix well
  • Serve hot!

    Note:
    – You can make individual portions or make one big pot of masala puri and then serve
    – You can skip adding sugar to the tamarind chutney
    – You can play around with the garnish ingredients and use whatever is available at home. Grate cucumber, potato chips and mixture are some other delicious alternatives

Corn on the Cob

I love eating corn especially the kind you can roast over an open flame or on charcoal, like you get on the streets of India. Since I have an electric stove range at home, I was looking for some other way of cooking it when my sister suggested using the ‘Broil’ option in the oven. While it doesn’t exactly give you the same result as charcoal-cooked bhutta does, it comes close enough!

Corn on the cob

Ingredients:

Corn on the cob (husks removed)
Salt
Olive Oil
Chilli powder
Black pepper powder

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven by pressing the ‘Broil’ option at 475 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cover an oven-safe tray with aluminium foil and place the corn on it. Spray olive oil on all sides of the corn (Alternatively, you could use your fingers to smear the olive oil on the corn)
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper powder and chilli powder as required
  • Place it on the top rack of the oven and cook for 20 minutes. About 10 minutes into the cook, turn the corn so that it cooks evenly.Ā Serve hot!