We have been getting lovely fresh beetroot in our weekly organic veg box delivery for a few weeks in a row now, and I was running out of ideas of what to do with it. I didn't want it to end up like the potatoes which we don't really eat much of, which are usually still left over at the end of the week (when we receive yet more of them).
So I experimented and made them into bhajis, mixed with some red onion and lots of spices. I'm not sure if they are traditional at all, but they are perfect for picnics dipped into a minty raita, or stuffed into a chapati with some crunchy lettuce, tomato, cooling yoghurt and a chutney of some kind.
Makes 20 - 25 bhaji
-1 bunched beetroot (roughly 500g), tops trimmed and left in their skins
-1 large red onion
-200g gram (chickpea) flour
-200ml fizzy water
-1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp nigella (jalonji) seeds
-1 tbsp cumin seeds - lightly toasted in a dry pan, then crushed
-1 tsp coriander seeds - lightly toasted in a dry pan, then crushed
-1 tsp ground turmeric
-1 tbsp good garam masala (I used madras)
-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
-2cm chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
-1 chopped red chilli, fresh or dried (optional)
-1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
-Sunflower oil for deep frying (about 750 ml)
1. Firstly give the beetroot a good scrub, then coarsely grate into a large bowl (or use appropriate attachment on your food processor). Then peel and finely slice the red onion, tip into the bowl with the beetroot and put to one side.
2. In a separate bowl, sieve in the gram flour then mix in the remaining ingredients (apart from the oil and the fizzy water). Make a well in the centre of the mix, then start to incorporate the fizzy water, mixing with a fork. Add just enough to form a thick batter, then pour this onto the beetroot/ red onion and mix thoroughly.
3. In a large, deep frying pan, pour in the oil to about 5cm deep. Gently heat until it is hot enough that when you sprinkle flour into it, it sizzles.
4. Take tablespoons of the mix and lower gently into the hot oil, several at a time. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes or until the bottom starts to crisp, then carefully flip over.
When they are crispy all over remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper while you fry the rest.
Delicious served hot or cold.