When I was young

It is raining in Chennai as there is a depression in the Bay of Bengal.

On this rainy day, I was just thinking how nice it would be if we ate some bajji/pakodi (Indian tempura). This is a typical reaction to cold and rainy weather…the deep fried food acts as a fillip to dull moods.

Plate of potato, onion, eggplant  bajji

Plate of potato, onion, eggplant bajji

My mother was a great hand at making this (as she was in so many other dishes) and when I was young,  Mumbai Monsoon gave us many days of bajji bingeing. She was innovative and used different kinds of veggies to make the fritters. Once she even used the gooey okra/ladiesfinger in a rural household. There was a young lad in that family who was so enamoured by the dish that he would set up a chant for it in Tamil, “Vendakkai bajji”!

A wok with frying bajjis

A wok with frying bajjis

The big chilli bajji was a great favourite which is associated with our days as kids in Hyderabad. The Mirchi (Chilli) Bajji is world famous and we would eat it in roadside stalls. The green chilli was deseeded and stuffed with a tamarind and onion paste, dipped in green gram flour and fried to perfection. Strangely enough, when I went to that city a few years ago and had it, it was so spicy and pungent and tasted totally different—maybe the cooking medium/oil had changed or my tongue and stomach could not take that heat.

Green chilli bajji

Green chilli bajji

When we went to Mauritius, my kids, who would stick up their nose at spinach, fell in love with the spinach bajji and would demand some of it. Making bajji was a regular date in our weekly calendar. My mother and mother-in-law were with us and they would chop up raw banana, cauliflower florets, sliced brinjal (eggplant), onions and potatoes. We experimented with cayote squash too and it was a big hit.

Raw banana bajji

Raw banana bajji

In Mylapore—an old part of Chennai, my city—there is a lady who sits on the road in front of a huge wok near the famous Kapaleswarar Temple. She is placed near the wooden chariot used to take the deities around the four streets surrounding the temple on festive days. She is famous all over the city for her hot bajjis. I see her, but I have never had the guts to taste her products as she sits in the open.

Lady bajji seller

Lady bajji seller

It is many months, even years, since I made bajji…for fear of indigestion in aged bodies. But I will give you the recipe that takes me back to when I was a child……………..

Bajji

Ingredients

Slices                    Potatoes, raw banana, cauliflower florets, sliced brinjal (eggplant), onions                                 (all or just one or two veggies)
1 cup                    Besan /Bengal gram flour/ kadalai mavu
¼ teaspoon        Chilli and turmeric powder (add more chilli/paprika if you like it spicy)
A pinch                Asafoetida
1 teaspoon          Salt
1 tablespoon      Hot Oil
1 cup                   Oil (sunflower, peanut, sesame, corn) for deep frying

Method

1. Wash the vegetables, slice them like wafers or into long and thin pieces. Place them in cold water to prevent discolouration.

2. In a bowl, mix together the yellow gram flour/besan, chilli powder, salt, asafoetida and the 1 tablespoon of hot oil.

3. Add ½ cup water and beat the batter with a fork or whisk till it is like custard. Taste for salt and spice and add if necessary.

4. Heat oil in a wok. To check if the oil is hot, drop a globule of the batter into the heated oil. If it rises to the surface immediately, then the oil is hot enough to fry the bajjis.

5. Reduce the flame to medium, dip a potato slice into the batter to coat it completely and drop it gently into the oil. You can fry 3-4 bajjis at a time depending on the quantity of oil in the wok.

6. Cook both sides of the fritter until golden brown. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain off the excess oil in a colander and then on a paper towel.

7. Gradually fry all the veggies in this manner.

The fun of eating bajji is when it is served piping hot with green or coconut chutney or ketchup.

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Anu, Ashok, Conrad, DeliriousGaelikaa,  GrannymarMagpie11Paul, Maria the Silver Fox, Rummuser , Will Knott, Shackman and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get  different flavours of the same topic.

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About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest is acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays.
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8 Responses to When I was young

  1. Ah, to be young! Do you remember moosundai and kamarkat?

    Yes, even I am scared of having too many of the bajjis or pakodas now. We get a milder version of the mirchi bajji everywhere in Pune and the next time you are here, we will go over to my club and have bajjis to your heart’s content. Mangal can make some great ones too.

  2. padmum says:

    I forgot to mention that this dish is always served when prospective grooms come to see and vet brides!

  3. prashantmdgl says:

    Quite an account of all the indigenous pakodas , and reading about them in the morning has made me feel like having them :)

  4. Delores says:

    I would like to try making this. Tonight we made a big pot of Dahl with tomatoes and cilantro to put in it. I know that in India it is a side dish, but we enjoy eating it by itself, or with come fried bread. Maybe next time we can add some bajji!

  5. Maxi says:

    I’m gonna jump right into the monitor and gobble up those delicious goodies. Yum.
    blessings ~ maxi

  6. Maria says:

    I’ve come to realize that south Indian food is the healthiest Indian food there is. No more alu parathas and paneer for me, I’m going to learn to cook idlis and dosas. My family better be ready.

  7. blackwatertown says:

    Another appetising post.

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