dreaming of india (or anywhere not -50C, really) : onion bhaji

Apparently it’s the coldest days of the year this weekend with ‘dangerous wind chill warnings’ and ~ -50C temperatures that will give you frostbite in less than 5 minutes.  Sometimes (more like a lot of times) I really can’t believe I’m living here now.  I actually miss the Vancouver rain.  Anyway, it’s time to hole up and cook up some food that will make us feel warm and sunny.  Funny enough, I only had onion bhaji for the first time when I lived in Calgary and there was this awesome little Indian restaurant called Puspa  pretty much right across the street from me. I would trot over there in sweatpants and get takeaway all the time.  And it was there that I tasted my first onion bhaji.  Can’t believe I never had these back during my months in India; I totally missed out for sure.  If you’ve never had them before, Rock says they’re like ‘tasty Indian onion rings,’ except they’re not rings and are instead fritters.  These make a great appetizer or snack.

I don’t actually know how many this recipe makes ‘cus we kept eating them as we were making them… but at least a dozen.

1 and 1/2 large yellow onions  /  ~ 1 cup gram/chickpea flour  /  2 tsp salt (plus maybe a bit more to taste after frying if you want)  /  ~ 1 tbsp lemon juice  /  1 tsp ground cumin  /  1 tsp garam masala  /  1 tsp ground tumeric  /  1 tsp hot chili powder (use less if you don’t really like spicy) /  2 cloves garlic (minced or pressed through a garlic press)  /  ~ 1 tsp ginger (finely grated)  / ~ 1/2 cup water  / canola oil for frying

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Start heating about 2 inches of canola oil in a large wok or pot to about 350F.  Halve and then finely slice the onions.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the gram flour, salt, cumin, garam masala, tumeric, chili powder, garlic and ginger.  Then stir in the lemon juice and the water; it will look kinda like a thick paste.  Mix in the sliced onions.  When the oil is nice and hot, just use a tablespoon and scoop up some of the onion mixture and carefully drop into the oil.  Most recipes I looked at said to shape the mixture into balls with your hands and then drop it in but honestly, I was just too lazy to get my hands dirty.  And I actually liked the way ours turned out more because you get more super crispy bits.

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Fry the onion bhaji until nicely browned on each side and then place them on a paper towel-lined plate.  Just be sure the oil is not too hot because if the bhaji don’t cook long enough then the onions will still be kinda crunchy instead of cooked through and soft.  We know, ‘cus we had one that was still a bit crunchy and it’s kinda nasty.  You can season with a bit more salt to taste if you want.

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That’s our big plate of onion bhaji!  We also made palak paneer as our main dish and now we are stuffed and crashed on the couch.  We still have about half the plate left (which means we ate a pretty huge amount of these!) but I figure we can just heat them up in the oven tomorrow.  These are pretty addictive and Rock says he likes the ‘spiciness’ and ‘they are a nice twist on onion rings.’

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