It’s not every day you’re actually encouraged to indulge in a deep-fried afternoon snack, so I feel obliged not to pass up that opportunity when Hanukkah comes along.
I’m all about celebrating for the sake of it, whatever the occasion may be. Halloween: costumes and pumpkin soup it is. Taco Tuesday: Do I even have to say it? Hanukkah: Host as many family members and friends in my apartment as possible to light the menorah and cathartically pander to the tradition of deep-fried doughnuts and potatoes.
This year, I thought I’d change it up a little — after all, no one ever said doughnuts and latkes were the mandatory way to fulfill our oil quota, right? These Indian fritters, called bhajis, are hot, crispy and still send that endorphin-inducing smell of oil around the house, but the zesty accompanying yogurt dip cuts the calorific guilt a little with its cool freshness.
For the fritters:
2 small white onions, finely sliced
120 grams cooked or canned chickpeas
1 cup gram/chickpea flour
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
vegetable oil, for frying
For the yogurt dip:
½ cup natural yogurt
juice of 1 lime
½ cup fresh parsley, washed
1 small clove garlic, peeled
fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1. Slice the onions finely and rinse them under warm water in a colander or sieve. Drain and leave to drip dry. If the chickpeas are canned, drain and rinse them, too.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the gram flour, baking powder, turmeric, chili powder and salt. Mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Add ½ cup water to the mixture and mix well to form a thick, pasty batter. Add the vinegar and mix again. Add the onions and chickpeas to the batter and mix to coat everything.
3. In a large frying pan, heat 1 inch oil on medium to high heat. Drop a pea-size amount of batter into the oil. If the batter bubbles and floats to the top, the oil is hot enough for frying. Using a tablespoon, scoop heaped spoons of mixture and gently place in the oil. Repeat with the remaining mixture, working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan. You should leave about an inch between each fritter. Allow the fritter to become golden on the bottom, then turn over to repeat on the other side, about 2 minutes on each side. Lower the heat if they start to burn.
4. When the fritters are crispy and golden, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to dry off excess oil. Season with a pinch of salt and chili powder (optional). Enjoy the fritter immediately or refrigerate and eat up to 4 days later. To reheat, place the fritters on a baking tray and heat for 20 minutes at 350 F.
5. To make the yogurt dip, combine all the ingredients in a small food processor and blend until smooth. (You can also finely chop the parsley and combine all the ingredients by hand.) This can be made up to 3 days in advance.
6. To serve, sprinkle with fresh parsley, drizzle the yogurt with the pomegranate molasses and serve with lime wedges. Serves 6.