Bhaji time

Fri 14 May 2010 @ 11:03
Author Paul Dring

The other day I had lunch with Anjali Pathak, third generation of her family to produce Patak's curry sauces. For the lunch, Anjali (pictured, above right) had prepared a menu of elegant Indian food – from rogan josh lamb cutlets to creamy paneer and peas balti (or cheesy peas, as Paul Whitehouse would say) – all of it made using Patak's sauces. Meanwhile, wine writer Susy Atkins (above left) had picked a different wine to go with each dish, in a bid to banish the ruby-and-lager stereotype.

Anjali also demonstrated how to make onion bhajis. Although I usually order bhajis whenever I get a takeaway, I've never made them at home – I'd always presumed they'd be too fiddly. I'll give them a try now though, as Anjali made the whole thing look very easy. First she mixed together 4 sliced onions in a bowl with 200g chickpea flour (gram flour), a chopped garlic clove, half a teaspoon of turmeric, the juice of half a lemon and some chopped fresh coriander, along with 2 tbsp Patak's Tikka Masala paste. To this she added enough water to hold the mix together (usually about 150-200ml - it varies depending on how juicy your onions are).

In the meantime, Anjali had put a pan of vegetable oil on the hob. When it was hot but not smoking, she grabbed a handful of the mix, formed it into a loose rissole shape (pack them too tightly and they won't cook through to the middle) and lowered it into the oil. After a few minutes, she turned it over and continued cooking till it became an appealing golden-brown colour, whereupon it was whipped it out and placed on kitchen paper to soak up some of the oil. She cooked the rest of the mixture in batches and served them warm with a spicy tomato chutney. They were delicious, gently spiced, not at all greasy, and all the better from being freshly made.

And, my friends, should you have been seeking the perfect wine to drink alongside your onion bhajis, I am thrilled to report that your search is at an end. In fact, the Trinity Hill 2008 Chardonnay from Hawke's Bay in New Zealand that Susy had picked worked a treat – a ripe, buttery wine that worked well with the rich spiciness of the bhajis.

For more recipes and information about Patak's, visit its website.

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