Mixed Vegetable Bajji or Indian Tempura are just thin slices of vegetables dipped in a crisp batter and deep-fried to golden brown perfection. They make excellent pairing with a cup of hot tea, particularly on cold, gloomy, rainy days. These are superbly delicious, easy enough to whip up on a whim and a perfect way to use up leftover pieces of vegetables that are too little to make anything else out of.
Apart from being simple make-at-home snacks, these also happen to be popular beach food in Chennai. All year round, the marina is filled with bajji stalls with a poratable stove sunk into the sand. It’s absolute bliss to bite into piping hot, spicy, greasy food after a long dip in the ocean.
You can use whatever vegetable you like, but traditionally, these are the ones used: onion, brinjal (Indian eggplant), potato, green(unripe) banana, large chillies (I used jalapenos, but any large not-too-hot peppers are good). Cauliflowers are great too, but you might want to steam them first. But then again, almost any vegetable can be used.
The batter is essentially 2 parts chickpea flour (besan) to 1 part rice flour + spices and salt. The Baking soda is completely optional, but I do enjoy the sinful crispness it offers. Just add enough water to create a thick batter. It helps to stir in the dry ingredients and break up any lumps before adding the water. A whisk works wonderfully to remove any last minute lumps.
Dip and fry away! Make sure not to reuse oil, fresher the oil, the better the taste. And cook on medium high heat – too hot and the batter burns before the vegetable cooks, not hot enough and the batter drinks oil like a parched man drinks water.
When you make these Bajji (which I really think you SHOULD!), be sure to SHARE YOUR PHOTOS with me through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I’d love to see what you cook from here and will share it with pride on my social media feeds.
– Green bananas, potatoes and brinjal oxidize (much like apples) and turn brown when exposed to air. So slice only what you need for a batch and keep the cut side facing down on a wet plate or the chopping board. Remember, discoloration does not affect the edibility of the vegetable.
– The batter needs to be thick, but slightly thinner than pancake batter. When dipped, the batter must coat the vegetable completely without it all dripping away. Since there’s baking soda in the batter, it needs to be used immediately. If you wish to refrigerate excess batter, remember to add baking soda (about a pinch) just before using it again.