People often ask me how I manage to stay slim when I seem to be baking and cooking lardy things all the time.
Firstly – I’m not that slim. Being tall allows me to carry it well. True story.
Secondly – We very rarely eat all the things I make. I try to save rich foods and fancy stuff for when people come round, or to take to an event or to give as a gift. I just talk (blog) about it more than most ‘normal’ people.
It’s certainly the case that making your own food allows you to be very aware of what goes into ones cake-hole. I don’t shy away from using real butter, cream and even lard, but there are no hydrogenated fats or hidden sugars in what we eat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pious about it; I eat all sorts of shoddy stuff when it suits me, but I know we can make up for a hefty day, or week, by going a bit lean the next.
Onion bhajis kind of fall into the hefty zone. They are fried after all, but they are so very easy and satisfying to make that they are now on my regular list. If you get the oil hot enough, they hardly soak any of it up so they can’t be that bad.
There is one slightly faffy stage to this, in that I salt the sliced onions before I add them. This process draws out the moisture, and although you have to get in there with your hands to squeeze out the salty, slimy goo that they exude, it makes the end result extra tender and delicious.
I’ve just realised that I so cancel out the fried thing by dipping them in raita, made with 0% fat Greek yoghurt.
It’s all about the balance.
Makes about 24
4 small or 2-3 large onions
1 tblsp fine table salt
1½ cups (150g) of gram flour
½ cup (60g) of self-raising flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp ground turmeric
Preparing the onions
Thinly slice the onions and then chop so that you have roughly 2-3″ pieces.
Sprinkle the salt over them give them a good stir round
Leave in a colander to drain for a couple of hours
Once or twice, when you are passing, give them a squeeze to remove any liquid
Rinse the onions really well (or they will be too salty) and squeeze out the excess water
Dry them by pressing firmly between plenty of kitchen paper
Making the batter
Mix all the other ingredients together
Stir in the onions
Add ¼ pint of cold water (perhaps a bit more) until you have a very thick clumpy mixture
Heat 2″ of sunflower oil in a small hefty saucepan until very hot
Drop forkfuls of batter into the oil (spoonfuls if you like them neater)
We go for ping-pong ball sized blobs, 4 at a time
Turn once then lift out onto kitchen paper when rich golden brown
We eat them with yoghurt and mint dip made with 4 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt, the juice of half a lemon and 4 teaspoons of mint sauce.