Saturday, June 19, 2010

Beet Bhajia

As I write this entry, I should admit that I'm feeling a bit paranoid about the recipe title. I hunted around on the internets, of course, but I couldn't drum up any kind of consensus on how exactly to spell the name of these delightful, vegetable and chickpea flour-based fritters. Of course, I could have just called them fritters, I suppose. I opted to hazard the misspelling largely because the word "fritters" summons up something corn and flour based, something southern U.S. Bhajia (or bhaji or bajji or bagia, you get the picture) can contain eggs but lean much more toward the bean flours than the wheat. This fact combined with the sort of spicing I opted for I believe places the resulting morsels squarely in the bhajia category. Thus, I take my chances.

I suppose I also could have called these Kitchen Sink Bhajia as their genesis sprang from my desire to use up some of the produce from our farmbox. We always rip through the kale, collard greens, and chard, while the beets and zucchini tend to linger a little longer around the kitchen. I remembered my friend Lizz's old roommate describing to me her very simple method for making some kind of shredded zucchini pancake that sounded really delicious. She nonchalantly rattled off the ingredients and instructions, and I listened with interest, all the while knowing full well that there was no way in hell I would absorb that information sufficiently to put it to use. As predicted, when my thoughts turned to the kind of things--patties, fritters, croquettes--I could make with shredded zucchini, the details of that recipe were long gone. It's kind of like remembering having read a book, but not being able to recall much about the plot. Well, as they say, that happened.

After hunting around for a while, looking at recipes in my cookbooks and checking my most beloved of blogs, I ultimately decided to make a very simple bhajia. As with all fritterish foods, the dryness of the shredded vegetables is of the utmost importance. Really watery veggies, like pretty much everything in the squash family, needs to be drained for a good long while before you attempt to make your bhajias. If you don't count the draining time, these come together really quickly, are extremely flexible, and require very few ingredients. Hurray for that! I will definitely make things again.

Beet Bhajia

3 small zucchini, shredded
3 medium or 4 small beets, shredded
1 small yellow onion, shredded
1 1/2 c garbanzo bean flour
1/4-1/2 c unsweetened nondairy milk
sea salt
ground black pepper
1 t allspice
2 t ground cumin
1 t cinnamon
oil for frying

Place the shredded zucchini in a colander. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and allow to drain for at least an hour. Return to it occasionally to give it a good squeeze. Again, you want to remove as much liquid as possible. When you're ready to make your bhajia, dump the zucchini in a bowl with the beet and onion and mix well. Add the spices and flour, and stir to coat well. Add the non-dairy milk just until you can squeeze the mixture into lumps that stay together.

Form into golf ball sized balls and fry in a small amount of oil for several minutes on each side. You could have these with some kind of raita, I suppose. We had them with a pesto sour cream, baked tofu, and steamed chard.


Hannah said...

Don't worry, I'm not about to correct your usage of "bhajia", especially since this is the first time I've heard of them! No matter how authentic or not, they sound mighty tasty, and I'm always happy for more beet recipes. It's such a sadly unappreciated vegetable...

Mihl said...

I love beets but I never have a clue what to make with them. These fritters look awesome!