Bhajia Tips and Suggestions
Bhajia tends to be a term most commonly used in Britain for what in India would tend to be called either pakora or pakoda. It is essentially a deep fried fritter consisting of a gram flour batter and a savoury filling, which can be anything including fish, vegetables or nuts.
In Rafi's second cookbook, Indian Vegetarian Cookery (1986), Rafi lists 16 different possibilities for tasty things to include in the bhajia batter. She suggests trying whole green chillies, grated fresh coconut, sweet potatoes and cashew nuts along with the well known onion and potato options, to name just a few. For something a bit different, she also recommends deep frying just the batter by dropping it through a slotted spoon straight into the hot oil. The resulting balls are called boondi and are stirred through yoghurt to be served as a raita or used as a garnish to other dishes (just like the scraps you get with your fish and chips here in Yorkshire!).
Here are some of our top tips for getting the most out of your Bhajia mix:
If using grated or diced vegetables, try adding them to the dry Bhajia pack before adding water and mixing to create the correct consistency. We suggest this should be roughly 125 ml, but it will vary depending on your additional ingredients. The batter should be thick enough to stick to the ingredients, but thin enough to coat your additional ingredients evenly - think double cream consistency.
If you want to dip something in and then fry it, you need to make the batter first. You can either dip in whole or sliced vegetables or seafood, or make a patty (such as a mashed potato mix) and dip that into the batter. You want a thick consistency for this batter; again roughly 125ml of water should do the trick.
For a richer batter, add a spoonful of yoghurt and slightly less water when mixing your batter.
- Whole, shelled prawns dipped into batter and fried until golden. Serve with lime wedges and Tomato Chutney.
- Squid rings dipped in batter for Indian-inspired calamari.
- Sliced, parboiled potatoes dipped in batter then fried until golden. Hana and Ian’s absolute favourite! Serve with Tamarind Chutney.
- Diced onions, mixed with batter and spooned into hot oil. An obvious classic. Serve with your favourite chutneys, or add to a yoghurt curry after frying as you would add dumplings to a stew (called Kadhi Pakora).
- Sliced onions dipped into batter and fried - this gives you tasty onion rings!
- Spiced mashed potato, formed into balls and dipped in batter before deep frying. Known as Vada Pav, this is then served in a bread roll with a sweet chutney (tamarind or date) and a green chutney. Great picnic food!
- Coleslaw-inspired bhajia: grated carrot, onion and celeriac, mixed with batter and spooned into hot oil. Tim’s favourite, dunked in Tarka Yoghurt.
- Cauliflower florets dipped in batter and fried is Gill’s favourite.
- Grated vegetables work particularly well as they cook so quickly. You can keep it simple by just using one type of veg (grated courgettes, or grated beetroot with fresh mint are both lovely options) or mix it up by adding 2-3 types of veg. You could also add peas or sweetcorn into the mixed vegetable bhajia.
Other dippable delicacies:
- Bread pakora is very popular in India: who wouldn't love a deep fried potato sandwich?! Dip an entire mashed potato butty in the batter and deep fry until golden.
- Whole or halved boiled eggs dipped in (a thick) batter and fried, served with tomato sauce. A really addictive snack!