Eskimo Nebula

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Join me for Merienda: Jessified Carrot and Green Onion Bhajis

Well, I certainly did take my time, didn't I? Yes, It's been a fair amount of time since my last post. I was initially thinking of doing a show and tell post, but since I haven't transferred all those photos over yet; I thought I would let you into my laboratory aka my kitchen and share a recipe with you.

If you don't know what 'Merienda' means; it's basically like a mini meal or snack time. I'm referring to Filipino Merienda, but you find this in almost all Spanish speaking countries as well. Sometimes my relatives stretch the meaning of Merienda by putting out a whole spread and then say 'Oh, that's just a snack. C'mon eat!'

I made these last night on whim because I had already made a batch of Falafel  ( I had tried 2 different kinds from 2 separate places in the days prior and wasn't satisfied with them. I wanted that perfect crunchy and green ladened Falafel that I had once gotten from the original Steve's Backroom, Harmony Garden and Jerusalem Garden, but wasn't having much luck; so I decided to make my own. I will post a recipe for that another day) and the oil was still hot and I thought why not. 

If you're not familiar with what a Bhaji (sometimes also called Pakora) is; it is an Indian fried snack, somewhat reminiscent of a vegetable fritter or even a kind of tempura type thing. The batter is usually just made with a mix of Besan (chickpea/garbanzo bean flour), spices, mixed with water and then you add in whatever veggies you want to use and voila.

This is the brand of Besan that I used. If you're able to find organic besan or even better mill it yourself, go for it! =)

This is what Besan flour looks like. It has a bit more moisture than wheat flour.

I really don't fry food that much because I don't like dealing with the hassle of the oil sputtering and the potential to get splashback and burns, but for some foods you definitely need to fry them and all the other alternative cooking methods, simply fail to do the food justice. As long as you keep the temperature constant; the foods will come out golden and crisp. 

Jessified Carrot and Green Onion Bhajis- GF, DF, V

*You will need to heat your oil to about a medium temperature.
In order to fry these properly you need at least 2 inches of oil in the pan you'll be using.
I used a blend of Canola and Grape seed oil and it was about 1C all together.

3/4C Besan Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
3/4-1 C of Filtered Water
Spice Blend- For this batch I used:
Freshly Ground Cumin, Shawarma blend, Turmeric, Cayenne, Black pepper
2TB of Freshly Ground Flax and Chia Seed
1 TB of Sesame Seeds
Handful each of Cilantro and Parsley chopped finely
2-3 Cloves minced Garlic
1/2 C of Organic Carrots finely shredded
1/2C of Green Onions diced
Pinch of Sea Salt to taste

In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder, spice blends, sesame seeds, ground flax and chia, herbs, garlic, sea salt. Once thoroughly mixed add in the water. If you want a softer more 'hush puppy' type consistency you can leave the batter a bit drier (it'll resemble a kind of biscuit dough), but if you want a crispier Bhaji you can use more water and bring it to a tad thicker than pancake batter consistency.

Once the oil is to temperature, drop spoonfuls of the batter into the oil. I wouldn't do more than 3 at a time. The Bhajis need space to turn and also you don't want to drop the temperature of the oil otherwise you'll get soggy and oily Bhajis instead of light and crisp Bhajis. It can take anywhere from 3-5 minutes, you will need to flip them over once to insure even browning. Place the cooked Bhajis to rest on either a plate with some paper towel on it or a wire rack sitting over a sheet pan with some newspaper underneath it. If you want to season the Bhajis a bit more this would be the time to add a bit more salt or whatever spices you want. The heat will help adhere the salt of whatever you use in order to liven up the Bhajis. I personally don't usually add anything extra because I think these are flavorful enough. 

Bhajis are the ones in the forefront. In the foreground you can see some of the Falafel I had made earlier.

This is what the interior of the Bhajis look like. It reminds me a bit of a mosaic =)

Traditionally, these might be served along with a raita or chutney.

If you want to keep the Raita vegan you can substitute the yogurt for a coconut yogurt.
Here is a recipe for Raita off which you can build.

A chutney recipe

This is one for a Mango chutney, but chutneys can also be savory as well; so feel free to search around for any other type of chutney

It's best to eat these Bhajis after being freshly cooked, but if you need to store them and reheat them for another day; it is possible. I do not recommend reheating them in a microwave because they will just turn tough. I would say the best reheating method would be in an oven. You're not looking to cook them again so just use a low heat like maybe 200F for maybe about 10 minutes. Just place them on a baking sheet and put it on timer and when it starts beeping, make sure to wear your oven mitts (If you've never seen the movie 'Grandma's Boy' you're missing out, haha), take the tray out, let it cool for about 5 minutes before digging in once again =)

I hope you give this recipe a try. Let me know how they come out for you.

Happy Cooking to you all!