Bhajias will always hold a special place in my heart.
When my grandparents moved to the UK in the 1950s they had to do whatever they could to survive. They were incredibly poor so they did anything to provide for my dad and his siblings to keep themselves afloat. My grandmother did what she loved which was cooking. Her Indian samosas, bhajias and traditional desserts gained national fame and from these humble beginnings Patak’s was born. My granny loved being in the kitchen and she taught me more about Gujarati cooking than I could ever thank her for.
This is not one of her recipes but more of a modern spin on an old classic. I learnt some tricks when I was a cookery teacher at a culinary school in London like grating the veggies on a cheese grater, rather than chopping them. I wish I’d thought of that myself but I didn’t, so thanks Recipease for all the little shortcuts I now cherish.
Serves 4 (makes around 12)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Vegetable oil for frying (you won’t need more than 1 lt)
1 large red onion
3 cm root ginger
Good handful of spinach, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp hing/asafoetida (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
Good pinch of salt
100 g (3½oz) gram flour (see My Secret)
Pour the oil into a large deep-lipped frying pan so it comes two centimetres up the sides. Gently heat it whilst you make the bhajias. If you are using a deep fat fryer then set it to 180°C.
Grate the carrots, onion and root ginger using a cheese grater. Transfer them to a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Scrunch all of the mixture together to release the moisture from the veggies. This will help it bind, but you can add a few tablespoons of water if you need to. You want it to be dropping consistency.
Test a little of the mixture to see if the oil is hot enough. It should sink and swim. Deep-fry the bhajias, in batches if you need to, until they are golden brown. Use around a tablespoon of the mixture and shape it into a ball before flattening it a little. This allows them to cook all the way through so you don’t end up with a doughy centre. You will need to flip them a few times to get an even colour. Drain on absorbent paper.
Serve with your favourite chutney.
Chef Anjali Pathak's Secret: Gram flour is chickpea flour and can be found in most supermarkets. It is gluten-free and used widely in Indian cooking, but if you don’t have any then you can use some plain flour instead. Just add a little more turmeric to give the bhajias a good colour.