Pyaaz Pakoras | Onion Bhajis

The Pakora… it’s as much of a favourite in restaurants, as it is at home. It’s so versatile – a great starter, a spicy canapé, a party nibble… but for me, as it is for most of my family, the pakora is the perfect comfort food. It belongs in the same class as the “onesie”, hot chocolate and mince pies! So it’s not a surprise that this recipe is such a favourite at my cookery classes.

You can make a pakora from basically anything – it’s an excellent way to recycle your left over veggies (and use up pesky things like broccoli stalks!). Crispy on the outside, steaming hot, spicy and fluffy on the inside – onion pakoras (or to be authentic… “pyaaz pakoras”) are my absolute favourite when I’m cold and in need of an internal hug.

So if you need an alternative for your mince pie this winter… try this – you will not regret it.

 

Pyaaz Pakoras | Onion Bhajis
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 onion, thinly sliced (paper thin long slices)
  2. 1 small potato, peeled and very finely diced
  3. 1 birds eye green chilli, finely chopped
  4. 1⁄2 tsp salt or according to taste
  5. 2 tbsp coriander seeds, coarsely crushed in a pestle & morta
  6. 1⁄2 tsp paprika
  7. 1⁄4 tsp turmeric
  8. Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
  9. 1 measuring cup of gram flour
  10. Water to bind
  11. Sunflower/vegetable oil for deep frying
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients apart from the gram flour, water and oil into a bowl. Mix well so everything is incorporated. Now add in the gram flour and mix well.
  2. Gradually add enough water to bind the vegetables with the gram flour. You should be able to form clumps of the mixture with your hand/a spoon. If you find the mixture is not clumping - add more gram flour. Taste the mixture and adjust salt/chilli accordingly.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan (a small wok works best for this & you will need about 3-4" oil). Once the oil is hot, carefully place clusters of the pakora mixture into the hot oil (if you're confident, you can use your hands to do this or to feel more comfortable, use a tablespoon).
  4. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry on medium heat until the pakoras are golden-brown all over. It should take about 3-5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel. Repeat with the remainder of the pakora mixture.
Notes
  1. To test the temperature of the oil, place a little cluster of the batter into the oil. It should take about 5-6 seconds to rise to the top of the pan. If it comes straight up, it is too hot. Take the oil off he heat and allow to cool. If it stays at the bottom, continue to heat the oil.
  2. You may need to adjust the temperature of your pan as you begin to fry the pakoras as the temperature of the oil will drop. As a general rule it should take 3-5 minutes to ensure they are golden and cooked all the way through.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Smoked Aubergine Mash (Baingan Bharta)

 

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I always think it’s funny how there are foods we used to hate as kids but now love as adults. Not that I consider myself an adult. I see myself more as a tall kid. Am I aware that 5ft 2 is not technically tall? Sure I am, but lets not ponder on that.

I was a good eater as a child (my childhood photos reveal that) and I’d like to think I wasn’t particularly fussy. Granted I had some weird foodie combinations that I loved but who didn’t? Crisp and coleslaw sandwiches were a must whilst watching cartoons on a Saturday morning. Any crisp would do, though crisps made from maize or corn were preferable. Mango pickle mixed with yoghurt was a regular “snack”, oh and I could eat mountains of black olives and pickled onions at any given time. Perhaps I was an odd child…please don’t judge me. 

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But I digress. Generally, I ate very well and there were just a few things I detested which oddly, I now love! Any sort of seafood was a no go, however Chingri Malai Kari is now one of my absolute favourite dishes. I found bitter melon revolting growing up but now regularly crave it. I couldn’t stand the smell of anything cooked in ghee but now it’s a staple in my everyday cooking. It’s odd isn’t it?

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Baigan Bharta also featured on the loathe list but now I can’t fathom how I lived so many years without it! Spicy, smokey (almost BBQ esque) and slightly sweet, baigan bharta is an utterly satisfying dish that’s perfect with hot buttery chapatis. The mashed consistency of the aubergine is akin to baba ganoush so it also works great as a dip, in wraps and smothered on crackers too (I’m thinking canapés at dinner partys people). I hope you like this recipe. It’s surprisingly easy to make and packed full of flavour. Keep me posted on how it turns out for you! 

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Smoked Aubergine Mash (Baigan Bhartha)
Serves 3
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Ingredients
  1. 1 aubergine
  2. 2 tbsp oil
  3. 1 small onion, finely diced
  4. 1 green chilli, finely diced
  5. 2 tomatoes, diced
  6. 1 level tsp tomato puree (double concentrate)
  7. 1 1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
  8. 1/2 tsp chilli powder or according to taste
  9. 2 tbsp peas, boiled (optional)
  10. Fresh coriander
Instructions
  1. Grease the aubergine with oil and roast it over an open flame till it is fully cooked. It should take about 5-7 minutes. When done, the skin should be charred all over and and the aubergine flesh will become soft.
  2. If you do not have a gas cooker, you can also cook the aubergine in the grill at the highest temperature until soft. Note, this will however not achieve the smokiness in flavour.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Then peel and discard the skin. Mash the flesh with a fork and keep aside.
  4. Heat oil in a non stick pan. Then add the onions and chilli and cook for 3-5 minutes until light golden brown in colour.
  5. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, salt and chilli powder and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  6. Now add the mashed aubergine and peas and mix well. Reduce the heat and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add the fresh coriander. Check salt and chilli and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat.
Notes
  1. If you are roasting over a flame, use tongs to hold the aubergine and rotate every few minutes. It may also help to cover the cooker around the ring with foil so it is easy to clean once the aubergine is roasted.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Bhindi Dopiyaza – Spiced Okra & Onions

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Lady fingers, okra, bhindi. Whatever you call them…they tend to split the opinion polls! Some love them. Some hate them-well they think hate them…I am of the opinion that they just haven’t had them cooked well yet!  I am (obviously) a fan and a huge one at that. Okra tends to get a bad rep for it’s slimy texture but with the right recipe, this dish will become a favourite and a firm part of your culinary repetoire.

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Containing high levels of vitamin A & B and folic acid, okra is super healthy and quick to make. Layered with heat, tang and slight sweetness, bhindi dopiyaza is perfect gobbled up with buttery chapatis.

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Bhindi Dopiyaza
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Ingredients
  1. 3 tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  3. 1 tsp nigella seeds
  4. 500g okra
  5. 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  6. 2 birds eye chillis, finely chopped
  7. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  8. pinch of sugar
  9. 1 tsp garam masala
  10. 1/2 tsp paprika
  11. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  12. 1 tsp amchur (sun-dried mango powder)
  13. 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
  14. handful of chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a non stick pan. Now add the cumin and nigella seeds.
  2. When they begin to sizzle, place the onions, chillis and okra in the pan and add salt. Mix well and cook on medium heat for approx 5 minutes, mixing every couple of minutes. You will see slime strands at this point.
  3. Reduce heat low and place lid on pan and cook for 5-7 minutes, mixing it every couple of minutes.
  4. Remove the lid and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes or until the slime strands begin to reduce and eventually disappear.
  5. Now add the spices and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and coriander and mix. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Mix well and remove from heat.
Notes
  1. It's important to cook out the okras until the slime strands disappear. Slightly overcooked okra is perfect for this type of dish!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/