Serves: Three. Preparation time: 40 minutes
1/4 cup Rice flour (Chával ká átá, Beeyappindi)
1/2 Tsp Garam masala powder
1 Tsp Red Chilli powder or to taste
1 level Tsp Salt or to taste
1/2 Tsp Tsp Cumin seeds (Jheera, Jilakara)
1/2 Tsp Turmeric (Haldi, Pasupu)
2 pinches Asafoetida (Heeng, Inguva)
1 heaped cup vegetables (eg; Potato, Plantain, Ridge gourd)
1/2 cup water
Oil to fry
1. Wash, peel and thinly slice the vegetable into rounds. Set aside.
2. Place a cauldron of oil on heat so that it is ready by the time we prepare our Bajji batter/dough.
3. In a bowl, sift together all the flours and spices, make sure that they are evenly mixed.
4. Add a little over 1/2 cup of water to the bowl, mix well making sure to break up any lumps. You may need to add a little bit more of water to get the right consistency. It should be thinner than Idli batter but slightly thicker than Dosa batter. (This benchmark has already been explained in Idli, also refer to step 6. for further explanation on batter consistency).
5. The oil must be hot enough to fry. Drop a grain sized amount of dough/batter into the oil to test, if it sinks to the bottom and then rises up foaming, oil is hot enough.
6. Dip each vegetable round into the batter, the batter covers the vegetable and coats it evenly but is thick enough not to drain away completely, it slowly drips off the vegetable. Drop this coated vegetable round into the oil. Repeat this step until the surface of the oil is full of frying Bajjis.
7. While the Bajjis are frying, line a plate with blotting paper. Stir the Bajjis to turn them around for even frying.
8. When the Bajjis are golden brown (around 7 minutes but depends on oil temperature and also what vegetable/how thick the rounds are), pick them out with a slotted ladle and transfer onto the plate lined with blotting paper.
Serve hot with Tomato ketchup or any chutney. Bajjis are great on their own too.
Bajjis can be made from a variety of vegetables. Potato, Plantain, Ridge gourd, Onions, Capsicum, Chillies (if not hot), Eggplants, Zucchini (Courgette, Summer Squash), Cauliflower.
Optional: You may add half a teaspoon of ginger-garlic paste into the batter/dough.
Professional cooks add a pinch of baking soda, it makes the bajjis come out fluffy. However, they soak up more oil and end up with a higher dose of sodium.
Culture & Health:
Called 'Pakoda' by some, 'Bajji' by others, they say a perfect rainy day activity is to sip hot tea or coffee with piping hot pakodas.
I love the taste of soggy leftover Bajjis on the day after they're made, the vegetable flavour permeates into the fried soggy batter. Others like refried Bajjis, leftover soggy Bajjis come out extra crisp when fried again on the next day.
Bhajji-pav is a favourite street-side food sold by cart-vendors in Mumbai. It consists of a potato bajji jammed between a bun, with green chutney, tamarind chutney and other spices.
I don't want to defame/slander the reputation of such a yummy preparation by starting on its health angle. Let me just say, chickpea flour is a good source of protein, while the vegetable provides vitamins & minerals ;-) :-P
On a serious note, we all know that fried foods do all the bad things possible to our system. The vegetable loses most of its vitamin load in the frying process. This preparation is not recommended for regular consumption, it is not for the health conscious, it is not for those on any kind of dietary restrictions. It is full of oil (empty calories: a no no for diabetics. all that cholesterol: a no go zone for heart patients. all that fat: stresses our dear liver, a complete no entry for those with a problem liver/kidneys) and sodium (so much salt/soda, a no no for high blood pressure candidates, gout candidates, arthritic personalities, those on dialysis... I believe most diseases are exacerbated by sodium intake, so we need to watch out!).
And Baba Ramdevji says besan is very bad for health, so don't even feel good about the protein. :-)
If there is one thing that I remember my mother cooking regularly, it's pakodas and bajjis!!
Warning: This food is highly addictive and difficult to resist. ;-)