#101TTDBNT is back after an eighteen month hiatus!
In the intervening time I have decided to allow the substitution of ‘Tuesday’ for ‘Thursday’ in 101 Things To Do Before Next Tuesday/Thursday. I do love a tiddly touch more titillation from alliteration!
I’m still here with my avowed intent to make a few of you think that cooking is a worthwhile pursuit in your home kitchen… so let's get on with my nudging and inspiring.
At Cheoff Towers Indian cooking remains one of the most inauthentic styles which I attempt. I am most unlikely to be given enough further years on planet Earth to master its true techniques, ingredients, approaches and mind-boggling regional diversity.
Yes, I’ll toast and grind spices for my own curry powder and I’ll mix a paste from scratch as a base for some very tasty dishes but, for the most part, I’m producing very British 'Indian' stuff. The stuff, let us be honest, of many 'Indian' takeaways. Takeaways which were very much a part of our 'It's Friday night, work is done, the weekend begins' ritual. Friday is still very often 'Curry Night' but it is much more likely to be a home-made effort now that the terrible burden of retirement has arrived!
Onion bhajis are made regularly. Although at their best when fresh, they do freeze well after cooking and cooling.
They are made with the paste and recipe from Mr Huda's Chef's Secrets. This is a local business which we discovered a decade ago before they hit the big-time with national supermarkets. I have toyed with the idea of preparing my own spice mix but a nostalgia touched by quaint loyalty has stopped me so far. The array of flavours is really pleasing. Each waits in turn to tickle you.
Here is the relevant recipe. There are plenty more on the Huda's website.
After all the prep you should end up with a mix of sliced onions which are evenly coated with a layer of spicy batter. My mix often has an extra green chilli and the addition of a small, freshly cut lawn of coriander!
Now you must deep fry with care. Get a little production line going with shaping, frying and draining. Three or four at a time go in my pan but judge this carefully for safety reasons. Apart from small items in a wok, this is almost the only deep-frying which I do.
You must also decide on the size wanted. I'll make walnut shapes for canapés and a palm size patty for main meal sides. Mine are not pressed or moulded and result in a less dense, more crunchy bite.
The inevitable stray strands are lifted out with a slotted spoon and guarded jealously. These are usually eaten as soon as they are cooled but a good idea is to save enough for sprinkling crunch on top of fish and rice dishes. They are the equivalent of fish and chip 'scraps'. I have been known to pull off the ragged ends from full bhajis to create even more of these crispy bits. I don't think that makes me a bad person... does it.
Mr Huda's Chef's Secrets do offer a 'Paste for Making Authentic Raitha' on their products page. I'm fine with the style of that particular British takeaway staple but at home freshly chopped mint and our own yogurt provide the zingy dip accompaniment.
You could end up making your own bajees or bajjis but be careful if you make bhajjis because they might be pakoras. As long as you don’t research into the whole thing too much and just get on with making a batch of these spicy onion delights my job here is done.
*You didn’t get to do it by this Tuesday? Relax… Tuesdays just keep on coming along.
And if you're not so fond of alliteration... Thursdays do too.