Tuesday 7 October 2014

Bajji (பஜ்ஜி)

Bajji (பஜ்ஜி) was one of the frequently made snacks in my grand parents’ home, often on Sundays. Elaborate efforts that go into making bajjis were always exciting, especially during the summer vacation when all of us visited our grandparents. Different vegetables were carefully chosen, sliced and kept on a large plate. My grandmother would make bajjis with these vegetables and serve a platter having one or two of these different bajjis with coconut chutney. Traditionally, bajjis were served along with sojji (சொஜ்ஜி) or kesari (கேசரி), when the groom’s family visits the girl’s house to see the would-be-bride (பெண் பார்க்கும் படலம்). Though ‘bhajji’ is a popular snack in Maharashtra; you will find bajjis being sold in small teashops in the nook and corner of Tamil Nadu. Bajji is a wonderful snack to eat on a rainy afternoon; however, you can eat it anytime. Though bajji and coconut chutney make a great combo, you can eat bajji just like that or with tomato ketch-up. 

Bajji batter
Ingredients: (Makes approximately 15 bajjis)

Bengal gram flour (கடலை மாவு) – 1 tumbler or 200ml measure
Rice flour (அரிசி மாவு) – 1 small hollow ladle or 50ml measure
Red chilli powder – 1-2 teaspoons (adjust to taste)
Salt – to taste
Asafoetida – a generous pinch
Baking soda – a generous pinch
Oil – for making bajjis
Vegetables – cut into thin slices, as desired*

*Plantain, brinjal/ eggplant, potato, onion, capsicum, ridge gourd (பீர்கங்காய்) and chow-chow/ chayote (சவ் சவ்) may be used to make bajji. Wash the vegetables. You may peel plantain, potato, onion, ridge gourd and chayote. However, I prefer to retain the skin of plantain and potato while making bajjis. Cut the vegetables into thin slices. Slice capsicum into rings and remove the seeds. You may also use whole large green chillies for making hot spicy ‘chilli bajji’ (மிளகாய் பஜ்ஜி).

Method: Mix rice flour, Bengal gram flour, red chilli powder, salt, asafoetida and baking powder in a bowl. Add required water to make a thick paste. The paste should be thick enough to coat the vegetables, but not too thin to drip (See the picture above). Mix the batter very well with a ladle.

Cut the vegetable into thin slices. The above mentioned quantity is sufficient to make bajjis out of one plantain. However, you may use any of the vegetables mentioned above.

Heat oil in a kadai on medium flame and drop little bajji batter in the hot oil. If the oil is ready, the batter fries and raises to the surface of the oil. Now, dip a vegetable slice in the bajji batter, making sure it is coated fully on both sides and drop it gently in the hot oil. Fry till the bajji becomes golden brown in color on both sides by turning it over as needed using a frying spoon or sieve spoon (ஜல்லிக் கரண்டி). Once done, remove the bajji and place it on a paper napkin for the excess oil to be absorbed. Fry all the vegetable slices in the same manner using up the bajji batter. Remove the bajjis from the napkin and serve hot with coconut chutney.

Bajji (பஜ்ஜி) made with plantain and capsicum (center)
Note: If you intend to make bajjis with different vegetables at one go, make onions bajjis in the end. If you wish to make only onion bajjis, you may omit asafoetida while preparing the batter.

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