Onion Bhajis are probably one of the most popular Indian appetizers or snacks, and a firm favourite when ordering "a curry" for takeaway or delivery... but have you ever thought of how hot, nice and crispy they would be if you made them fresh at home?
I gave these a go recently and they are very easy to make! Once you've made these yourself, you won't want to order soggy, lukewarm bhajis from your local Indian restaurant anymore.
Makes about 10-12 pieces:
> 100g Chick-Pea Flour / Gram Flour
> 1/4 tsp Chili Powder
> 1/2 tsp Turmeric
> 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
> A pinch of red chili powder
> 2 tsp Salt
> 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
> 1 large Onion, halved and thinly sliced
> 1 Green Chili, de-seeded and finely chopped
> 25g finely chopped Fresh Coriander
> Vegetable oil for deep frying
Preheat the deep fat fryer to 180ºC.
--> If you don't have a fryer, heat up the oil and test with a small cube of bread or potato to check whether it's hot enough. Make sure the oil isn't violently hot, as otherwise the bhajis will brown before they are completely cooked through.
Sift the flour, chili, turmeric, cumin, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Add the chopped coriander, onions and chilies and mix well. Gradually add enough cold water to the flour mixture to form a thick batter mixing very well so the onions are well coated.
Very carefully drop small spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot oil and fry until keep warm whilst you cook the remaining bhajis.
Drain well on kitchen paper and serve very hot.
--> These taste excellent with chutney, Raita or Mint Sauce. Enjoy!
Chutney is one of India's great culinary exports: eaten with peppery Poppadums, cheese and crackers, to spice up your main course with rice, or in Britain it has even become a Christmas favourite alongside left-over roast turkey!
makes 3-4 medium-sized jars.
5-6 large ripe mangoes, about 1.5kg
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 red onions, halved and thinly sliced
a large piece fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into thin shreds
1 large whole lemon, flesh and juice
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
½ tsp black onion seeds (Nigella or even mustard seeds are good)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 large red chili, de-seeded and finely sliced
375ml white wine vinegar
400g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
Wash and sterilize your jam jars.
Heat the oil in a large deep pot, add the onion and fry for a few mins until starting to soften. Stir in the ginger and cook, stirring frequently, for about 8-10 mins until the onion is golden. Stir in all of the spices, except the turmeric, and fry until toasted.
Stir in the turmeric and chili, add the lemon and the mango and pour in 500ml water and the vinegar, sugar and salt, then cover and cook for 30 mins.
Stir the mix, take off the lid and leave to simmer uncovered for 30 mins, stirring frequently until the mixture is thickened and set. Spoon into your jars and enjoy!
Women's dress in this part of India is a little different, as lots of particularly older women don't wear the sari. Their clothes are similar to costumes seen in Kerala and Hampi areas - they wear a long skirt and a blouse, with lots of bangles, necklaces and hair ornaments, with a shawl over their shoulders and head.
Goa is a perfect example of Cultural diversity and peaceful co-existence. For many centuries Hindus and Christians (and a pretty big population of Muslims) have co-existed peacefully here respecting each other's religion and absorbing the good sides of the other's religion into their own religion. The impact of Portuguese culture is evident and this is because of the long rule by the Portuguese here.
The Goa Carnival organised in mid February every year is part of Goa custom for sure. For three days and nights the streets become alive with vibrant colours, music, dance and fun. It's the time of festivity, feast, music and dance and enjoying life to the fullest. The origin is rooted in Portuguese Goa and goes back to three hundred years. During this time, people of Goa, as well as people from all around the country and abroad who have gathered to enjoy the occasion, gather on the streets, singing, dancing, playing the band, eating, drinking and merry making. Grand balls are also held in the evenings.
While visiting the western, inland area of Goa we were taken on a tour of this cashew nut factory and shown various stages in the process of roasting the nuts for sale. The conditions looked fairly primitive, but the women seemed happy in their work and there was quite a sociable atmosphere among them. One of the least interesting tasks, I have to say, was the sorting of the nuts into different sizes for different grades. The smaller nuts are used in the manufacture of other food products such as cakes and sweets. Only the larger ones are roasted and sold or exported.
The factory also made flavoured nuts. We were given some to try – some tasty spicy ones dusted with chilli powder and some I like less dusted with chocolate powder (not as good as it sounds as they were neither sweet nor savoury). The factory had a small outlet shop where we could buy boxes of the nuts which we did, as they made good presents to bring home.
As we travelled around Goa I was interested to see and photograph many aspects of daily life. Much of the countryside is given over to agriculture, especially rice farming, using very traditional farming methods. This photo of a farmer ploughing with oxen shows one example of these methods, while photo 2, taken from the train to Karnataka, shows women in colourful saris working in the fields, and photo 3, also taken from the train, a paddy field.
In one village we were able to observe another traditional practice at close hand as villagers were winnowing rice right in the middle of the main street (see photo 4). By tossing the rice on these rush mats they can separate the grains from the unwanted chaff, which is light and blows away on the wind.
Perhaps the most interesting of the several villages we went to was this one, a busy fishing village (in fact almost a small town) on the banks of a wide river. Down on the jetty fishing nets were hung out to dry (photo 2) and nearby this man was using a stick to turn over the hundreds of small silver fish left out to dry in the hot sun. These can be kept for quite a while and used in many dishes.
Not all the fish were being dried however. Further along the road a woman (photo 3) sat in the shade of a tree with some of the fish that had apparently been caught fresh that morning, and she seemed to be doing a good trade with local women.
These women are making ropes from coir, the hairy husk of the coconut. The process is as follows:
Firstly the coconut shells must be immersed in the river for several weeks for the fibres to soften. The woman in photo 3 is checking them to find any that have softened enough to be suitable for use. Once the fibres have soaked sufficiently they are pounded with stones to make them even softer and more malleable – see photo 4.
Then the process of actually making the rope can start. The fibres are twisted together, with new ones added all the time as others come to an end. This forms the initial, rather thin and weak, strand of rope. Several of these then need to be twisted together to form the final strong rope, as the women here are doing. These ropes are then put to all sorts of uses – hanging washing, tethering animals, tying down or carrying loads, tying up boats, and many more. They are also offered for sale to tourists, and make a very practical souvenir of your visit to Goa, especially if you have watched one being made as we did.
We stopped for a while in one village to watch the local women at work washing clothes in the river, from which they had carved out a deep bay. The technique is the same as it is the world over – a little bit of soap, some rocks, clear running river water and lots of elbow grease. These women were hard at work but not too busy to give us a friendly smile and pause for our photos, as you can see.
While visiting one of the villages in western Goa, near the border with Karnataka, we were invited into a home to see how the family lived and cooked. The woman showed us the clay oven where she baked bread every day, and the open fire on which she did most of her other cooking. She also showed us the small shrine garlanded with marigolds and with incense burning in little lamps hanging above it (photo 2). You can see that this home was very simple and basic by our western standards but she was obviously proud of it, and of this little shrine in particular.
In another village, this time near the capital Panjim, we saw this lovely shrine (photo 3) in the yard of a house. We asked if we could take photos and the family were really happy to agree.
While on a tour of local villages we stopped in one where we saw this little school by the side of the main road. The children were having their lunch and we were invited to pop our heads round the door to say hello. We got shy smiles and greetings in return, which was lovely.
One thing I liked less though, was that the guide on our tour suggested that we all go to the nearby shop to buy sweets for the children. I was very happy to give them a small gift but would have preferred to give pencils or notebooks, as I usually do on these occasions. However, not knowing that we would visit the school we hadn’t gone prepared and as the children were clearly used to receiving something I didn’t like to disappoint them by not joining in. You might like to bear this in mind if you do a similar tour, and take along some little gifts for the school-children.
The Goan countryside is dotted with these shops, which are sponsored by the makers of chocolate biscuits, soft drinks etc. Some are little local shops, others are cafés or bars. We never got the chance to stop at one for a proper look unfortunately but we found they made good subjects for photos, with the bright reds contrasting well with the lush green countryside.
If you would like to get nostalgic from watching a film, here's a list,
* Bourne Supremacy
* Do Your Thing
* Last Hippie Standing
* Dil Chahta Hai
Wanna read a book instead?
* Goa Freaks: My Hippie Years in India by Cleo Odzer
* Global Nomads by Anthony D'Andrea
* Psychedelic White by Arun Saldanha
Everyone wants a tip!!!!!!!!
Its always good to tip and in such a cheap place why not! However... its seems that its somewhat ruining the ecomnomy and giving certain areas and certain people too much money!
I know it sounds daft but my advice is dont OVER tip. We gave tips (normally about 10%) to tuk tuk drivers, taxis and restuarants, but these guys get tips all day long - theres lots of poor people in Goa/Inida so if you really wanna help maybe visit one of the animal shelters or schools to give something (they really appreciate clothes/books/pens - in the schools)