Yesterday was my day to cook dinner over our extended Easter break with the sisters and their families – so many of us this year, that we’re taking up two houses. What bliss it was this morning after the Easter Egg hunt when all seven children (aged 3 1/2-14) found themselves next door during torrential rain. The five adults in our house breathed a collective sigh of relief, enjoyed coffee, newspaper reading and space to ourselves. It was like the silence fairy had visited and the rest of us were too scared to speak so not to shatter the peace.
I’m technically supposed to be resting up after knee surgery three days ago. And, I am, I’m just an active rester (is ‘rester’ even a word?!). I wanted to get my cooking day out of the way so I can take it easy the rest of the week. Plus, my sous chef was on hand to do most of the chopping and instruction following.
I safely packed away Kenny to bring – and what an asset he’s been. Fresh hot cross buns every day, plus bread and rolls for lunch. I’ve been revisiting some of my easy recipes for things that can be made quickly using my bench top mate. While everyone mocked me for filling car space with a bench top mixer, nobody is complaining now. However, everybody is ordering me to sit down (which I am doing in between loads of dough).
The kids got pizza and we enjoyed range of blog favourites plus one new recipe. Bhajia or Pakora. Each year I head to our local Indian Bazzar and on coming home state that I will recreate the delicious treats we purchased. I just never get around to it. This year was going to be different.
My friend Saileen has shared with me her Fijian-Indian recipe for Bhajia and I gave them a successful whirl last night. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – they are mainly veges and spices. I used up the vegetables we had in the fridge and I’ll also list the Saileen’s favourite veges. Both should be used as guidelines as you can can put almost any vegetable/herbs/spices in them.
Mix together and put aside for 30-60 minutes (or longer if you have the time, overnight is good if you remember):
2 C chickpea flour (besan)
1 C water
2 tsp baking powder
Finely chopped red chillies (I used a shake of chilli flakes)
2 tsp finely chopped or ground ginger
2 tsp finely chopped or ground garlic
Grind of pepper (not in the original recipe, but I love pepper)
The batter should be quite thick. I call it a ‘dropping’ consistency. You do not want it to be runny as the veges will release liquid.
Then add vegetables and spices:
I used: 1 small eggplant, chopped into chunks, 1 grated carrot, 1 grated zucchini, 1 chopped red onion, 3/4 C small broccoli florets
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds (I only had ground fennel)
1 tsp turmeric powder
(Saileen uses: 1 finely chopped onion,1 grated (and squeezed) potato, 1 grated carrot, 1 bunch finely chopped spinach, 1 C finely chopped cabbage, chopped fresh coriander)
Let sit for another 30 minutes if you have time – it is good to rest the mixture to let the vegetable juices release. Give it another quick stir before using.
Many people (and most restaurants) deep fry bhajia/pakora. I prefer to pan fry them so I heat rice bran oil in a large fry pan. When it’s hot, drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan to make small fritters.
Cook for three-five minutes (depending on their size and the vegetables you’ve used), before turning and cooking for three-four minutes on the other side.
Drain on paper towels and keep warm while cooking the remainder of the batter.
Serve with yoghurt dip – or, as we did, sprinkled with salt as an entrée.
I believe Sister Number Three may be trying her hand at them tonight. I suspect they will become a family favourite.