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It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
The best thing about visiting an Indian street fair is undoubtedly the food. There are crispy pappads as big as your face, sprinkled with cayenne pepper -- a little greasy, but very delicious. And then there are the fried bajjis -- vegetables dipped in a gram flour batter and fried to crispy perfection.
Most common of these is the mulaku bajji, a bajji made with a large green pepper similar to a jalapeño. Served with a mint chutney, it has the perfect balance of textures and flavors: the spicy pepper against cool mint yogurt, the crispy shell with a soft center. Served with a cup of hot chai, it's the next best thing to an evening at a fair.
To make the mulaku bajji, made here with jalapeños, you can choose to leave the stalks on your peppers if are pretty (mine weren't!). If you'd like to make the peppers less spicy, slice them open and remove the seeds, then soak them in cold water for a few minutes to remove the spice. For another variation, consider stuffing the peppers with either paneer or ricotta before frying.
For the bajji:
7 jalapeños (roughly 250 grams)
1 cup gram flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup water, plus more if needed
4 cups vegetable oil
For the mint chutney:
1 cup mint leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 green chiles
4 tablespoons yogurt
1 splash lime juice
Salt, to taste
To prepare the peppers for the bajji, wash and drain them by making a small slit and letting the liquid flow out, then remove the stalks if you desire, then set them aside on a paper towel to dry. In a large bowl, mix the flours, baking soda, and cayenne pepper together. When combined, pour in the water and stir until the batter is flowing and smooth. If lumpy, add more water and set aside.
In a deep-bottomed pan, heat the oil. Once hot, carefully remove 2 teaspoons of the hot oil from the pan and stir into the batter. Dip each jalapeño into the batter, until fully-coated, then lower the floured pepper into the pan of hot oil.
Deep-fry the coated peppers on a medium flame until golden, then transfer them onto a paper towel to drain.
To make the chutney, grind the mint leaves, garlic, and green chiles to a fine paste. Then stir in the yogurt, lime juice, and salt. Serve the chutney with the fritters and enjoy!
Photos by Aysha | The Malabar Tea Room