These pea and onion bhaji are such a treat. The peas really keep them light and fresh, and the buckwheat flour also lightens the batter. Finely ground black pepper has a wonderful heat, and combined with turmeric especially has powerful health benefits, being highly anti-inflammatory. Hands up, fried food isn’t healthy food, even with healthy ingredients and good frying oil like coconut oil, that is stable and doesn’t break down releasing free radicals, like most other oils.
A lot of people are (understandably) worried about the saturated fat content of oils like coconut oil, but it is definitely true that things are not always what they seem. It’s hard so often to arrive at a definite conclusion with such matters as the ground seems to be shifting under our feet. I research and then go with my common sense, and coconut oil, used by so many cultures around the world who lead healthier lives than we do in my part of the world, is such a wonderful and versatile natural oil. The saturated fat in coconut oil is different from that in say, dairy cheese, or vegetable oil, and is apparently far better for you. We often jump to conclusions about food analysis, there are so many news stories about the separate components, benefits and negative aspects of foods taken in isolation, but reality lies in the whole nature of the food and how it interacts with our bodies, which is both general and individual, and rarely explored in such contexts. A news story for example is looking for specific drama to report. We are easily influenced because what we consume is important and we are so concerned. The written word is persuasive, but we don’t see the whole picture; nature is highly complex, and the way a natural food works chemically in our body is pretty elusive in its totality.
eat a diet centred around whole foods and you can’t go far wrong.
Science is of course the pursuit of knowledge; we don’t know everything. I think it is important to remember that when we are making decisions about what is good and bad for us. A good general rule of thumb is that nature knows best, and so to try to eat whole foods as near to their natural state as possible, listen to what your body is telling you it likes and does not like, and what it needs and does not need, and enjoy your food.
keep it simple.
In my opinion home-fried food in good oil is good to have as an occasional treat and enjoy, everything in moderation (especially if you’re not that active). Such traditionally street foods are calorific for a reason, and many modern lifestyles do not demand such high intake of calories for energy. Also coconut oil is such a good and also expensive product, I can’t bear to do much more than shallow fry! To be honest more often I’d use sunflower oil. It isn’t something you’d want often, but as part of a special meal it can be great! A little of something you like is a good thing. I say enjoy it, share it, love it.
Cooking a curry spread with all the trimmings is such a joy, it’s a labour of love, and I really appreciate all the dishes and what they bring to the whole. But more often than not these days I just eat a part of what I used to, just bhajis, or poppadoms, or a curry, as I eat less and enjoy lighter meals. Try them with a salad, lemon and coconut raita, tamarind chutney and mint, coriander and spinach dip, or for the full spread with a curry and buckwheat flatbread. They’re so delicious they will always be well received ♥
- 1 cup chickpea (gram) flour
- 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 cup of peas
- 1 tsp salt/ black salt, or to taste
- large pinch of bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp ground coriander seed
- 1 tbsp finely ground black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp turmeric
- 1 heaped tsp garam masala
- 1 heaped tbsp cumin seeds
- oil for shallow frying, dependent on pan size
- 1 cup of water
Heat a tbsp of coconut oil, tip the pan to one side so the oil pools and add the cumin seeds, gently frying for about 20 seconds, until browning and crisp. Remove from heat quickly and transfer seeds and oil to a small bowl.
Chop onion how you want it to be, I chop in half and then slice thinly.
Mix the flour and water to a smooth paste, sieving the gram flour, and add the rest of the ingredients bar the coconut oil and mix.
Heat two tbsp of oil in a medium frying pan (more for a larger pan), heat on a medium heat and then spoon the mixture into desired shapes. You can crisp up strands of onion, or make bigger patties. Don't overload the pan, you can make several batches and heat them up in the oven if you need to. Shallow fry for a minute or so, being careful not to burn, and then turn, adding more coconut oil if needed. Take out of oil when ready and put onto kitchen roll on a plate to soak up the excess oil.
If you need to reheat them they crisp up beautifully in the oven after sitting for a while, but I think are lovely cold too.
They make a great picnic accompaniment.