This dish reminds me of my grandmother in India – whenever anyone came to visit, she would run into the garden to pick the fresh fenugreek and rustle up this amazing starter in minutes
Versatile fenugreek is used regularly in Indian cooking, as a herb (the leaves), a spice (the seeds) and a vegetable (the leaves and sprouts). The addition of the yoghurt makes the bhajis lighter and fluffier, but you can leave it out if you prefer.
Sunflower oil, for frying
For the masala:
1–2 fresh green chillies, seeds left in
2 cloves of garlic
1cm root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
pinch of salt
For the batter:
100g fresh fenugreek leaves, rinsed and finely chopped
175g chickpea flour
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon medium red chilli powder
1¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ripe medium banana, mashed
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon plain live set yoghurt (optional)
100ml warm water
Crush the chillies, garlic and ginger together with a pinch of salt using a pestle and mortar (or a blender), to make a fine masala paste.
Put all the batter ingredients into a medium bowl, including the yoghurt (if using). Add the masala paste and lightly mix everything together with your hands.
Add 50ml of warm water and mix again. Add another 50ml of water and continue to mix until the batter is lovely and smooth.
Heat the frying oil – about 15cm deep – in a large pan over a high heat (or in a deep fat fryer, if you have one). Test the temperature by sprinkling a few small drops of batter into the oil – when it is hot enough, they will float to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium.
Delicately spoon small teaspoonfuls of batter into the oil until the pan (or fryer) is full, then leave to cook for 1 minute, until the bhajia are golden brown on top. Gently turn them over to fry the other side for 1 minute more. Make sure they don’t overcook – take them out once they are just golden brown and leave them to rest on kitchen paper while you make the next batch. Repeat this process until the batter is used up.
Serve immediately, with phudino dai, ideally accompanied by wattana and flower or a cup of adhu vari chai.
• This recipe is taken from Prashad: Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Kaushy Patel (Hodder & Stoughton, £25). Order a copy for £20 from the Guardian bookshop
via Life and style: Indian food and drink | guardian.co.uk http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/oct/22/fenugreek-leaf-banana-bhajis-recipe