Bajji, a type of vegetable fritter made from gram flour, is a famous street-style food enjoyed all across India, particularly during the monsoons. In most homes, just cloudy weather and/or rain, or even just a Sunday is enough reason for bajji to be made 😀 There are several vegetables from which this fritter can be made, and equally several ways this fritter can be served; either plainly or which garnish, stuffed with masala or as is, served with ketchup or with chutneys on the side – all accompanied by a steaming cup of filter coffee! Do take a look at our Fried Banana Peppers stuffed with Cheese, which is another really delicious type of chilli bajji.
This is the most basic form of Bajji that you will find in street stalls. Coated with a gram-flour based batter and fried to crispy goodness, these bajjis are to die for. They make the perfect ‘pick-me-up’ snack on the way back home especially after a long, tiring day. Street vendors wrap it in a piece of newspaper; inside is a layer of plantain leaf to prevent any oil leakage. Garnished with chopped raw onions and fresh coriander/curry leaves on top, this gives it that burst of freshness, while cutting through the strong flavours. Some of them even like adding freshly grated carrot or coconut; it just depends on the city with each having their own, unique style of serving street food.
Most of the veggies can be used to make bajji, but the most commonly used ones are potatoes, green chilli (ask for the bajji variety, also called banana peppers), onions, peerkangai/ridge gourd, vazhakkai/plaintain/raw banana, and eggplant/brinjal.
Making bajjis is quite simple, however, it is important to get the consistency of the batter right. Keep in mind that they need to be thick enough to coat the vegetable, but also not so thick that they form a super thick layer on top. This will only end up being heavy on the stomach and the flavour of the gram flour will overpower the vegetable. I have not added soda in this recipe, but you can if you want to 🙂
Pair it up with a nice coconut chutney, or the gold old tomato ketchup for that perfect balance! Serve it with a hot cup of chai, or filter coffee (yum!).
- Vegetables – One each of Raw Banana/Plantain, Potato and Onion. You can use any veggies of your choice.
For the Batter
- Gram/Chickpea Flour (Besan)- 1 cup
- Rice flour- 1/4 cup
- Red Chilli Powder- 1 or 2 tsp, depending on your taste
- Turmeric Powder- 1/4 tsp
- Asafoetida (Hing)- a pinch
- Salt to taste
Preparing your veggies
- Wash all the veggies well under running tap water.
- Peel the plantain with a knife or a peeler. Cut them into half, and then slice into thin strips. Immerse in water immediately- this will prevent oxidation.
- Peel the skin of your onion and cut into thin, roundels. Set Aside.
- Cut the potatoes horizontally into thin roundels as well. Immerse in water along with the plantain strips.
Making the batter
- Start with a cup of gram flour. Then add all the other ingredients- rice flour, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and hing.
- Add water little by little to make a smooth batter, free of lumps. In total, I added roughly 250ml of water.
- The batter should medium thick, i.e., it has to be thick enough to coat the veggies well but should have a slight pouring consistency.
- Check for enough salt.
Making the bajjis
- Heat a pan with enough oil for frying.
- Dip the veggies one by one in the batter. Generally the rule of thumb is to do one type of vegetable in a batch, as it ensures even cooking.
- Coat them evenly with the batter making sure each side is covered.
- Drop them slowly and very carefully, one at a time until you’ve done about four or five of them.
- Fry in a medium flame. The oil should be hot enough when you drop the veggies. But, after dropping them you bring the flame down to a medium, so that they do not burn. This will ensure that the vegetable cooks well along with the batter.
- Keep tossing and turning them, while simultaneously splashing some of the oil on the pan on top; they will puff up nicely this way.
- Let them turn golden brown in colour. Transfer onto a tissue paper to blot off the excess oil.
Serve hot with some chutney, or ketchup on the side! You could also garnish with some freshly chopped onions and coriander for that extra flavour, like I did ! 🙂
TIPS & TWEAKS
- Bajjis need to be served hot so that they are crisp. If you let them rest, they will become softer.
- Use whatever firm vegetables you like. Mostly all root veggies hold well, apart from ones mentioned above.
- Always cut vegetables into medium thick slices. Too thin, and you will not get the taste of the vegetable. Too thick, and they won’t cook through in time.
- You could make the batter beforehand and refrigerate.
- You can also squeeze lime juice on the veggies, so that they don’t oxidise before frying (like in the case of potatoes)