Some food, like people, have memories. Like the memory I have of my dad bringing home hot Mirchi Bhajji/Pakoras, wrapped in newspaper on his way back from work, for Ma. As a kid I never dared to try one, but as I grew up amongst Andhra folks, who are all essentially spice lovers, I developed a taste for the spiciest, hottest, Mirchi/chillies. To this day this remains my greatest strength and weakness, while cooking. Weakness for sure, because not all dishes require red hot chilly in it, and I can’t do without it, and this eccentric streak sometimes ruins lovely subtle recipes. I need to get myself to cook with more perfection and not arbitrarily.
But no, today is not the day yet for a subtle recipe- here’s a very in your face, hot as hell, snack- The mighty chilly Pakora/Mirchi Bhajji/Mirapukai bhajji- call it whatever you may, it has the power to send you on a heady trip from hell to heaven and back to earth with just one bite. This snack is not for the faint hearted who spend time lingering about cheese and desserts. And now, that I have warned you well in advance, lets get around making it.
(This recipe is in Andhra style- yes exactly the type you must have tried on bandis/thelawalas and on railway station platforms- only, cleaner, more hygienic- no points for health and nutrition though. Weight watchers, you can choose to close this window, else you might be very very tempted to try one, right away!
For the chilly filling-
5-6 large green chillies (if in Sydney, you get these in Coles sometimes or in Indian vegetable markets around Flemington)
1 small cup of seedless tamarind, soaked in hot water
1/2 spoon coriander powder
1/2 spoon cumin powder
salt to taste
For the batter
1/2 spoon baking powder
2 cups of besan / chickpea powder/gramflour
1 spoon garlic paste
salt to taste
water about 1/2 cup
Red chilly powder- 1/4 spoon
Oil for deep fry
- Slit the green chillies length wise and de-seed them
- Blend the tamarind, coriander and cumin powder together in a blender/grinder with very little water- maybe a spoon or 2.
- Stuff the tamarind mixture into the slit chillies. Set aside all the stuffed chillies.
- For the batter, be careful with the consistency. Use little water at a time and beat the gramflour/besan, garlic, Ajwain seeds, chilly powder, salt and baking powder together. The batter shouldn't be watery.
- Now dip each chilly into this batter and deep fry until golden brown. Dain on a kitchen towel/tissue.
Serve hot with tea, on a rainy evening and get nostalgic. :-)
(The North Indian version doesn't use any tamarind. Instead they make a mixture of salt, Amchur (dried mango) powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and stuff the chilly with this mixture. They use normal chillies instead of big ones. You might want to try that variation too)