By overwhelming popular request (a full 20% of my readership!) my recipe for onion bhaji that I made yesterday and mentioned on Facebook :
3 onions, of average size, halved, then sliced, and lightly sauteed over low heat in a nob of butter, until soft and translucent, do not brown. Add garlic – lots. (lots is the standard amount for garlic when I cook, except in custard). ( I used flakes as I am out of fresh and will not buy more until I return) .at a guess I would say about an egg cup full of flakes, crushed in my hand.. Stir in until garlic softens but do not burn it. LOW heat.
Add 1 (heaped) teasp of ground coriander and a little less than half that of ground cumin. The standard ratio of coriander to cumin is supposed to be 2:1, however I also added a quarter teaspoon of whole cumin seeds, because I like them.
I added six or seven whole (dried) chillis chopped up and for good measure I added a certain amount of chilli powder. Enough to make sure the bhaji would definitely be spicy. ..
1 good teaspoon of tumeric. After all that I went further into experimental mode and added a 3/4 teaspoon of masala. and half a teasp of mustard powder. (why not?)
Stir a bit more, cooking on low for a minute or three, until the spices are cooked into the onion, the mix is fragrant and the neighbouss look over the fence. Turn off the gas and leave the pan to cool.
In a bowl put three rounded desertspoons of flour: that is, one per onion. The original recipe suggested 5 onions and five tablespoons flour, so I extrapolated. I don’t have a tablespoon, so I rounded a dessertspoon.
( Should be chickpea and riceflour, but I could not find any in the local shops and I could not be bothered going into Suva for it. I used standard white flour. I am sure it would be better with chickpea flour.. To do..)
Add enough water to make a thick paste, add a teaspoon of salt. and a dessrtspoon of tomato paste. Mix with whisk, then add more water until the batter is smooth and semifluid. Total water should be less than a quarter cup, at a guess, but who measures these things?
I toyed with the idea of lightening the mix with a tad of baking powder, but decided against it, as it was not mentioned in the recipe. However I am convinced that the bhaji I buy sometimes from the vendors had been made with it. On the other hand they are a bit cake-ish, or dumpling-ish, because they dont have nearly as much onion as this. I may try using an egg too, That would lighten it a bit maybe. But I digress…
Mix the spiced onion into the batter.
Now comes the agony of decision: Bake, shallow fry or deep fry? Due to laziness I picked frying, and due to low oil reserves, I went for shallow fry, It worked, I cooked two dessertspoonsfull per bhaji. I used a lower flame, to be sure I did not burn them but I had to flatten the bhaji mix in the pan to ensure they cooked through. So they came out more like fritters. Not that that made any difference to the taste or texture as far as I can tell. I fried them in a drizzle of canola until dark golden brown, and the protruding bits of onion were crispyish. they were a little oily anyway.
Drained and cooled slightly in a blank newsprint paper towel, then served (first batch) with lime pickle, and (second batch) with tamarind sauce. Hard to decide which i preferred. The interesting observation was that the bhaji made it seem tha the lime pickle was not very hot.
The mix made 9 bhaji of reasonable size, and served me for dinner and supper at midnight before bed.
I thought they were pretty good. Shall definitely do them again, but will inevitably experiment. .