Bhajias (baa-jee-yas) might be easier to describe as fried savoury fritters. They are usually classified as a savoury that one eats before a meal, either on it’s own or by dipping it into a red chili and tomato sauce.
In our home, this is served from pot to plate. I don’t like them to be served cold or even after a few minutes. I only begin frying them when my guests arrive as they retain the crunchy outside and light and foamy inside.
Here are my tips for achieving the perfect Bhajia:
- You can prepare the batter in the morning and add only the baking powder a few minutes before a final mix and fry.
- Try to get a deep non-stick pan to fry your bhajias in. The wider the surface area, the easier it is to fry a few at a time, resulting in only having to do 2 lots to complete this batter. I prefer a non-stick pan because they seem to rise the surface quicker and they don’t stick to the bottom such that you need to loosen it with a spoon to get them to bounce around.
- If you are preparing them for adults, chop large chunks of chili in (if you’re able to withstand the heat). There is nothing better than biting into a chili, loking for water or tea to take the heat away and laughing it off before reaching out to grab another one!
- Another tp to know if you’re achieving the correct consistency in the batter, it should be able to old slightly firmer in your hand before dropping into your oil. If it’s runny, they won’t hold together. Also try to incorporate the baking powder well to achieve an almost foamy texture in the batter. You can leave the baking powder in for 15 minutes to get this consistency.
Basic Bhajia Batter
Start by sifting 1 cup of chana flour and half a cup of flour.
To this add:
- 1 onion, finely cubed
- 1 potato cubed (and boiled in salted water)
- Half a tin of creamed style corn
- A quarter tsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander powder
- Half a tsp to a tsp of ground green chili
- 1 tblspn of red chili slices
- 1 tsp of chili powder (use Kashmiri chili powder if it’s available)
- Half a tsp of lightly crushed fennel seeds
- Freshly chopped coriander
At this stage mix all the ingredients together and leave it to rest until you are ready to use.
Once you are ready to fry, fill your non-stick pan with oil (normal sunflower oil).
Add2 tsp of baking powder into the batter (make sure it is level teaspoons as if you put heaped, it will crack and break). Add 2 tblspns of the hot oil into the batter mix.
Add water to form the batter. I loosely add the liquid but for these purposes, I’d recommend starting with a quarter cup of water. Add a bit in at a time instead of pouring all the liquid in. The onion and sweetcorn releases liquid so only add your liquid to form the batter once you’re ready to use.
I drop the batter in with my hand. You can use spoons if you prefer but I feel more confident when I’m able to feel the batter and know where I’m positioning it.
Once the batter hits the oil and bounces to the surface, I immediately drop the temperature to medium to avoid it browning on the outside and not being cooked on the inside. Allow them to float around, turning all the time and most importantly cooking on low to make sure they are cooked through.
Sprinkle over fresh coriander (although not necessary) and serve with lemon wedges and a chili tomato sauce.