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Bhajis & Chutney

This is a recipe for mushroom bhajis, but the spiced gram flour batter can be used for anything from your classic onion bhajis to little egg, paneer or vegetable pakora, so it’s a useful utility recipe and you can tweak your spices to suit your choices, and of course, your dosha. These crisp, golden, shroomy handhelds work fantastically with the boldly spiced, garlicky tomato chutney below and are a great accompaniment to any curry or dal. We shallow fry as we believe it produces a fresher, lighter bhaji or pakora. A surprising family favourite on this theme is our halloumi/hellim, mint leaf and onion pakora, made with the same batter and truly an incredible combination. Feta also works really well as a sub for the halloumi, but cheese is not best paired with tomato under Ayurveda, so if you’re going with the halloumi or feta option, go for a tart or slightly sweet chutney instead (my wife adores a mango or papaya chutney accompaniment, and we make them at home when we find the time; when we don’t she thinks Anjum Anand’s Spice Tailor offering is the best shop-bought one on the market – a complex, fennel-seed and light-spice mix that could pass for homemade).

Ayurvedic note
Both Kapha and Pitta do just fine with mushrooms, but they are not a great food for Vata. By all means take the gram flour batter recipe and pair with your perfect vegetal innards – cauliflower and courgette both work nicely.

Ingredients

For the bhajis:
80g gram flour / chickpea flour
3 tbsp of ghee
½ tsp of cumin seed
½ tsp of ground turmeric
1 tsp of ground coriander
1 handful of fresh coriander
1 large onion
6 / 7 medium sized chestnut mushrooms or equivalent volume of chanterelles or girolles
Sea salt

For the chutney:
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
3 cloves of garlic
4 / 5 fenugreek seeds
½ tsp of cumin seeds
½ tsp nigella seeds
½ thumb sized piece of fresh peeled ginger
½ thumb sized piece of fresh peeled turmeric / ½ tsp of ground turmeric
½ tsp hot chilli powder
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 tsp of palm sugar / unrefined sugar
5 curry leaves
A good pinch of sea salt and good grind of black pepper

Method

  • 1 Prepare your chutney first, as the bhajis are best served immediately. Toast your cumin, fenugreek and nigella seeds in a dry hot pan until they fragrance your kitchen or for a minute or so. Sprinkle your seeds into a food processor and add all the other ingredients barring the coconut oil and curry leaves. Blitz to a coarse paste
  • 2 Warm your coconut oil in a small saucepan. Add your paste and the curry leaves and cook on a low bubble for 20 minutes or more. Allow to cool and you are ready to serve. Leftovers will sit happily in your fridge for up to 3 weeks, great stirred into curries or for homemade poppadom or tortilla dipping
  • 3 For the bhajis: thinly slice your mushrooms and onion and fry in a tbsp of your warmed ghee with the cumin seed and a good pinch of sea salt until the mushrooms give out their liquid and then draw it in again and the onions soften and turn translucent
  • 4 Add your gram flour to a bowl and beat in small amounts of water until you have a texture that thickly coats a finger
  • 5 Add the turmeric and coriander, ground and fresh with your mushrooms and onions and stir to an even mix
  • 6 Heat 2 tbsp of ghee in your frying pan to smoking hot and add your mix in heaped dessert spoons. When one side has crisped and coloured to golden turn your bhaji with a spoon and cook the other side to the same
  • 7 Remove to a vessel lined with kitchen paper. Repeat until your mix is used up. Serve hot with your chutney