Bhajji is an Indian version of vegetable fritters. I was looking for some non-traditional ways to use ramps, spring onions, my young chives, and thought this would be a fun and different way make them the star of the dish. My four year old daughter likes eating alliums of all kinds. Every time we enter the house, she pinches the chive plant in our garden to eat with the opposite influence of mint on her breath. I guess she is like her mama who loves shallots, onions, leeks, and all the loud flavors of this stinking vegetable family. There is something about raw onions too because those who eat them with abandon look for those who like the sweet stench of our breath and kiss us anyway.
Makes about 16 bhajis, to serve four to six.
¾ cup chickpea ( besan) flour
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspsoon fine sea salt
1 good pinch cayenne pepper
1 good pinch black onion (nigella or kalonji) seeds
3-4 tablespoon coriander leaves, minced
½ cup spring onions(chives, ramps, red onion), trimmed and cut into quite chunky slices
1/3 – ½ cup beer (or water)
Peanut Oil, for deep-frying
For the Raita
¼ cup fresh, firm radishes, topped , washed, and minced
¼ cup fresh, soft goat’s cheese
2/3 cup whole yogurt
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
1-2 tsp chopped fresh mint leaves
1 pinch flaky sea salt
To make the bhajis, sieve the flours, ground coriander, cumin, salt and cayenne into a bowl. Whisk in the onion seeds, coriander and spring onions. Stirring as you go, gradually pour in the beer or water until you have a smooth batter – you may not need all the liquid.
Pour the peanut oil into a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan to a depth of about 3 inches and warm over a medium heat – you want the oil to be hot, but not too hot, because the spring onions and flour need to cook through without the outside of the bhajis burning – Proper deep-frying technique requires maintaining the oil’s temperature between 325°F and 400°F. (as a rough rule of thumb, that’s when a cube of white bread dropped into the pan should turn golden in 90 seconds). You’ll need to cook them in batches, so don’t overcrowd the pan – drop spoonfuls of the batter into the oil and cook until golden, about four to five minutes. Drain on kitchen paper briefly and serve hot, with the raita alongside.
For the Raita
First, make the raita. Mash the cheese into the yogurt and beat until smooth. Stir in the radish, red onion, mint, along with a good pinch of sea salt.