Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bhajis Enable My Legume Love Affair

Some time ago I discovered Jeena's Kitchen's fabulous Onion Bhaji recipe. It was an instant hit with my family and has become one of our quick and easy recipes for weekday nights. I have made these Indian oven-baked delights with various kinds of vegetables, including thawed (and squeezed out) packages of our garden string beans, diced par-boiled potatoes, blanched cauliflower and even blanched Brussels Sprout halves, and they are always winners. The vegetables get delightfully CRISPY and we make bhajis at least a couple of times a month.

Dan even made bhajis one night for supper using a jar of my pickled dilly beans thinking somehow that they were just like our frozen green beans, and while they were not great, they were edible. Their taste was how I imagine a deep-fried pickle is.

Jeena's Onion Bhaji recipe is fantastic and uses buckwheat flour and a great mix of spices. Her recipe blog, which features many other gluten-free recipes, is a great resource and has many detailed instructions and photographs to guide you along on your first go at these delicious little fritters. She has also recently added a video of this marvelous recipe so you may want to view this step-by-step instruction before you whip up your dinner.

We make our bhajis and like to accompany them with some rice, a dab of Cucumber Raita and some Apple Chutney. One batch of bhajis with these condiments makes a hearty dinner for four, but they can also be served as an appetizer or first course for more hungry mouths.

I like to make Jeena's recipe with chickpea flour, or besan, which I find at my health food store. Larger urban area grocery stores may carry this in the natural foods or Indian foods section. The buckwheat flour version is fluffier, but the chickpea flavor seems to be our favorite. We also add in chopped pickled ginger, snipped fresh cilantro or chives from the garden and substitute cumin seeds for ground cumin for a little variety.

Here's my tweaked-up version of the Jeena's Kitchen recipe using green beans and our customized seasonings. No doubt we will keep playing around with this versatile recipe. I plan to try it with shredded zucchini and summer squash and perhaps chunks of sweet potatoes. Hopefully you will love this recipe too and come up with your own special version.

Green Bean Bhajis

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thin
2 cups blanched green beans (I use frozen green beans) squeezed dry
Olive oil

First Seasoning Mixture:

1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds

Second Seasoning Mixture:

2 Tbsp. pickled ginger, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt

5 Tbsp. chickpea flour
1 tsp. tomato puree or sauce
Several Tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in frying pan. Add onions and saute until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add beans and heat through, another 2-3 minutes. Add first seasoning mixture and continue to cook, stirring, another 2-3 minutes, or until spices are fragrant.

Take off stove and pour into medium-sized mixing bowl. Add chickpea flour and second seasoning mixture. Stir to coat beans and onions well. Add tomato puree and a tablespoon of water to make into a batter consistency. Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, if needed for right consistency. You don't want the bhajis to be runny, just moistened. If you think your bhaji batter is too wet, add another tablespoon of chickpea flour.

Drizzle olive oil to coat two cookie sheets. Drop about 2 Tbsp. bhaji batter onto your sheets for each bhaji. Flatten a little with spoon.

Bake 10 minutes. Remove trays, flip your bhajis so they brown evenly and return to oven for another 5-10 minutes.

Bhajis are best served right away, but for the rare occasions when we have a few leftovers, they are also good reheated in the microwave over some more rice.

Serves 4 as dinner, or more for appetizers.

This is so delicious, you will have to try it. Make sure to try Jeena's original Onion Bhaji recipe too with the buckwheat flour and her delicious spice combinations to see which you enjoy best. I know my husband pouts when I promise him a bhaji dinner and then make something else, so you know this is good!

Simona at Briciole, a wonderful food blog that offers definitions (and audio file pronunciation) of Italian culinary terms AND mouthwatering recipes, is the current host of My Legume Love Affair, which celebrates the awesomeness of the legume and is the baby of Susan over at The Well-Seasoned Cook. This Green Bean Bhaji recipe is my contribution to MLLA, which runs until tomorrow. Be sure to check back with Briciole to see a noteworthy roundup of beany recipes.

Simona is also the co-host of another event, Novel Food, which invites readers to select a novel, short story or other literary work and cook up an inspirational recipe. I have something in mind for this fun event, which runs until December 20, 2008. If you would like some more Foodie Fiction fun, be sure to check out Cook the Books, a new book club started by yours truly and two other blogger buddies, Food Junkie and Kahakai Kitchen. We are reading "La Cucina" by Lily Prior and cooking and blogging about Sicilian foods inspired by this lush and lusty novel by the December 15 deadline. Come joins us!


Deb in Hawaii said...

Oh wow--these sound so good! No wonder they are a family favorite. I like how you can add different vegetables to them too.

Johanna GGG said...

these sound delicious - I always find onion a bit much on its own but the idea of adding other vegetables appeals

Simona Carini said...

I will definitely try this recipe, after reading your enthusiastic post. I am totally intrigued. Thanks for your kind words and for participating.

What's Cookin Chicago said...

Care to submit this to a third blogging event? I'm hosting an Indian food blogging event thru Nov. 30 and would love to include this in the round up! :)

Rachel said...

Bhajis (some call them pakoras) really are awesomely tasty and versatile. I gotta try spinach in them too.

Joelen:I have something planned for your Tasty Tools event and roasters today, so I'll get right on that, but I really only like to submit a recipe to one blog event at a time. Off to the kitchen!

Anonymous said...

those look delish! what a great idea.

NKP said...

These sound great, I have never had anything like them before.
They seem so versatile too, perfect for fitting in with what you have on hand.