Bhajia is a snack or light lunch dish found in many fast food type restaurants in Kenya. This dish was imported by the Indian settlers who for many years have influenced many Kenyan dishes, lunches, snacks and treats. For me, I remember it was an all time favorite. In fact, each time I visit Kenya the first thing I order at any restaurant is a plate of Bhajia (above) and a plate of Samosas (below). The latter is a pastry filled with seasoned ground beef. Delicious!
I never had the guts to make Bhajia on my own. However, this weekend I ventured out. I was inspired by a recipe courtesy of Manjula’s Kitchen . She does a fantastic job showing how to make vegetarian dishes. She calls the Bhajia, “Vegetable Pakoras.” I also doubled the recipe so that I could have enough for dinner and snacks later on.
2 cups besan flour ( gram/ chick pea flour)
6 Tb rice flour
2 Tb coriander seeds, coarsely ground
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp salt to taste
1 ½ cups water
3 green chilies, chopped
½ inch bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
3 cups vegetable oil
4 medium sized potatoes, sliced
1 large egg plant, sliced
1. Heat vegetable oil in a shallow pot or skillet.
2. In the meantime, mix the besan and rice flours, add ground coriander, cumin seeds and salt. Pour in a little water at a time, stirring continuously until you make a pan-cake like batter. Mix in the green chilies and cilantro.
3. Place in sliced potatoes and coat well with batter.
4. Test oil if hot enough. If a drop of batter sizzles, you are ready to fry.
5. Fry the coated potatoes until light brown on both sides. Place cooked potatoes on a plate or serving dish lined with paper towels. The paper towels will soak any excess cooking oil. Continue until all sliced potatoes are done.
6. Next coat the egg plant slices with batter and dip in oil. Cook as before until done.
You have enough Bhajia for 6-8 servings.
To heat Bhajia: Retain crispiness by placing Bhajia in baking sheet, lined with foil and place in 350 ºF oven for 5-9 minutes.
Bhajia is eaten with a side of Kachumbari (a mix of chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped onion, lemon, salt and pepper) very similar to Pico De Gallo. It may also be eaten with pureed Kachumbari which is very similar to Salsa.
You can also eat with a dallop of sour cream and some chili sauce.
Make this Srumplicious meal and share the delights of something special with your family.
Where to find Bhajias and Samosas.
In Nairobi: If you happen to be down town Nairobi City make sure you get these delightful snacks at KK’s Restaurant, Bruce House. They have the best. Check out their Kienyeji ( traditional food) offerings as well. You will be pleasantly surprised. Orchid Ltd a food court restaurant, at the The Village Market in Nairobi features Iranian Cuisine and serves up great Bhajia. Taste of Africa, a neighboring food court restaurant offers authentic Kenyan cuisine and I dare say some very good Samosas.
In Oklahoma and the USA: Just call our friends at Haiget’s Catering . They make some lovely Samosas and specialize in Ethiopian and Kenyan cuisine as well as other cuisines.
Your Neighborhood: Check your local Indian grocery store. I have seen frozen vegetable and chicken samosas. I have not yet seen frozen Bhajias.