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Street Foods of the World – Bhajia/ Bhajji/ Pakora ….

Street foods are ready to eat, small pieces of food that originate from a region or a street or even a mere common place on a street. Vendors sell them or hawkers in uniquely presented vans, booths or trucks. The Taste Magicians endeavor to bring to you in a series of blogs, from our travels around the world, from Pompeii to the Grand bazaar of Istanbul, to Cairo, to the streets of Spain and as far as Lima and New York City. We even take our journey to Japan, Jakarta, Singapore to China and India.

In this series we visit India for its famous Bhajia/ Bhajji/ or Pakora. Call it what you may, but these are definitely the most popular street foods that have found their way into every Indian restaurant in the west. But in reality these are freshly cooked at every nook and corner in India. In the south, the “tea kadai” or the “chai walla” in the north, often has these cooking around the clock. But evening is probably the best time to cherish these delicacies and with a cup of “cutting chai”.

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Bhajji – freshly cooked at a Street Shop

We have here recipes of Gujarat Na Bhajia – the Gujarati origin, but made famous in West Kenya, by migrant Indians. There is also the Loyola Vengayam (onion) Pakora. In England an Onion Bhaji will merely be a big chunk of Gram Flour with some onions in it, made famous by the Bangladeshi Restaurateurs. But the south of India these pakoras are loads of onions, softened with salt and gram flour dusted on it to absorb moisture.

Onion Pakora :

This is a recipe from Arun’s Tea Kadai (Tea shop) opposite Loyola College in Chennai where I was pursuing my Degree in the 90’s. He would make this just as our break was about to begin. That coupled with a glass of tea from the ‘master’ (as the chef was called), was divine. We have tweaked it; after all we are the magicians of taste!

Ingredients:

4 – Onions, medium size, sliced lengthwise

2 Tbsp Mint leaves chopped

2 Tbsp Coriander leaves chopped

2 Tbsp Curry Leaves chopped

1 Tsp Fennel

1 Tsp Cumin

1 Tsp Ajwain (Carom Seeds)

2 Green Chillies finely chopped

1 Tbsp Ginger finely chopped

½ Tsp Salt

½ Cup Gram Flour

2 Tbsp Rice Flour

1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder

1 Tsp Cumin Powder

½ Tsp Turmeric Ground

¼ Tsp Asafoetida (Hing)

¼ Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

Oil for Deep-frying.

Prep:

  1. To the onions add all the ingredients up to the salt, rest for about 30 minutes. This is where the salt draws out the water from the onions.
  2. Pre heat the oil to 165-175°C
  3. Now add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well. The gram flour should just about coat the onions and hold it together.
  4. Take lemon sized balls of the onion mix and flatten and carefully drop into the hot oil. Fry till golden brown and remove on to kitchen paper towel to absorb excessive oil.
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Onion Bhajji and Gujarat Na Bhajiya with Chai.

Gujarat Na Bhajiya:

This is a recipe preserved and mastered by Bhanu while he was in Vadodara, honing his Chef skills. It’s a traditional Gujarati recipe made famous by Maru’s in West Kenya. We have here a traditional version.

Ingredients:

3 Potatoes – Large Maris Piper

½ Tsp Salt

1 Tbsp Ginger finely chopped

1 Tbsp Garlic finely chopped

1 Tbsp Green Chilli finely Chopped

1 Tbsp Coriander fine chopped

½ Tsp Turmeric Ground

½ Tsp Red Chilli Powder

½ Tsp Garam Masala Powder

¼ Tsp Chaat Masala

5 Tbsp Gram Flour

1 Tbsp Rice Flour

1 Tbsp Corn Flour

½ Tsp Lemon Juice

¼ Tsp Asafoetida

Method:

  1. Wash and peel Potatoes, then using a mandolin slice them very thin (about 2mm)
  2. To the sliced potato add all the ingredients up to the chaat masala. Rest for about 30 minutes.
  3. Pre heat the oil to 165-175°C
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  5. Deep fry until golden brown and rest on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.

Chutney:

1/2 Cup Cucumber grated

1 Cup Tomato finely chopped or grated

2 Tbsp Carrot finely grated

2 Cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped

2 Tbsp Coriander finely chopped

4 Green Chillies finely chopped

2 Tbsp Lemon juice

1 Tbsp Sugar

½ Tbsp tamarind pulp

2 Tsp Salt

Method:

Blend together all of the ingredients for the chutney, until coarsely puréed. Alternatively place in a chopper and use the pulse to grind coarse, to make it rustic you could just grate or chop all the ingredients and mix together. Keep chilled in a refrigerator.

Don’t forget there is nothing like a glass of ‘chai’ made with tea leaves, ginger, cardamom and mint, and whole milk.

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The Taste Magicians – bringing, Street food of the World to you!

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