Snacks

Onion Bhajis

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Onion bhajis make a great snack or starter for an Indian meal. I decided to make these after going out for an Indian meal in Birmingham this week. They’re easy to make and much better than shop bought ones.

This will make about 20 bhajis

So what do you need?

  • 4-5 medium-sized onions (about 800g of onions)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • a sprig of curry leaves (optional)
  • a small munch of coriander
  • a lemon / lime
  • 300g gram flour
  • 150ml water
  • vegetable oil for frying

So what do you do?

Start by peeling and finely slicing the onions. I cut the onions in half and then slice them finely and then separate the pieces and put them in a large mixing bowl. Then crush the cumin seeds in a mortar a little and add them, next crush the garlic with the salt and add it. Then chop up the curry leaves and a handful of coriander and add them along with the other dry spices and mix everything together. Then add the gram flour and the bicarbonate of soda and cover the onions in the flour. Next add a squeeze of lemon juice, about a tablespoon, and add most of the water. Mix everything together. you want a thick batter that covers all the onions so be careful not to add too much water and make it sloppy so add water until you get it right.

Leave to stand while you heat up some oil in a frying pan or wok. The oil should be at least a centimeter deep. When the oil is hot use a tablespoon to spoon dollops of the onion mixture into the frying pan, making sure you leave some space between each bhaji. Fry for a minute or two until golden brown and then turn over. Once cooked on both sides drain off any excess oil and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest of the bhajis. Serve with a pickle or chutney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Snacks

Vegetable samosas

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I’m not sure how many vegetable samosas I’ve eaten in my life but it’s a fair few, but I’d never made them myself before. They make a great savoury snack and I’ll certainly be making them again especially as they’re not that easy to come by in Thailand.

So what do you need?

For the pastry

  • 400g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 4 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. nigella seeds (optional)
  • 180ml warm water

For the filling

  • 1 large potato (about 400g)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. cuminn seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. chilli powder
  • a pinch or two of salt
  • a few fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • 300 – 400ml vegetable oil for frying

So what do you do?

Start by making the pastry. Put the dry ingredients in a bowl or mixer and add the oil and mix together. Then add most of the water and mix together, you want a soft dough so keep adding water until you get this. Then kneed the dough for about 5 minutes and cover with a tea towel.

Next peel and dice the potatoes and the carrot into small cubes and boil in salted water for about 8 minutes and then add the peas cook for another minute or so until the carrot seems cooked but still firm and drain. Meanwhile peel and chop the onion and fry in a large frying pan with the oil, crush the garlic and add it. Once the onion is soft add all the spices and fry them for a minute or so and then add the vegetables and mix everything together and allow to cool.

Separate the dough into 12 balls about the size of golf balls. Mix some flour and water to make a watery paste about a tbsp. of flour and 2-3 tbsp. water. Then start making the samosas. Roll out a ball of dough on a flowered surface until its thin and about 16-18cms across. Then cut the circle in half. Turn the flat side of the pastry towards you and with a  pastry brush moisten the rounded side with the flour paste. Put a pile of the filling in the middle of the pastry (about a heaped tbsp.) and the fold the right bottom of the pastry up to the middle of the rounded edge and then put some of the flour paste on the left hand side of the pastry and fold this up over the top to make a triangular parcel and ensure the edges are sealed. Place on a floured baking tray, covered with a tea towel, and continue making the rest of the samosas.

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When you have finished making the samosas heat the oil up in a wok until very hot. You can test the heat with a small offcut of pastry it should start cooking and brown quickly. Then cook the samosas in batches of 3 or 4 at a time turning occasionally until they are golden brown. Drain them of oil and place on a wire rack while you cook the others. Best served fresh while warm with chutney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Snacks, Veggie mains

Arancini / risotto patties


This is a great way to use up any leftover risotto (there are several risotto recipes on the blog already). Just roll the cold, sticky risotto rice into balls or patties and coat in flour or breadcrumbs and shallow fry in oil until crisp and golden. You can put a small piece of mozzarella or blue cheese in the middle of the balls if you like. Serve on a bed of green leaves. Here I also added some homomade tomato sauce too. Enjoy!

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Baking, Snacks, The Basics

Oatcakes 

If you live somewhere that they are readily available in the shops then you probably  wouldn’t bother making them but if you don’t and you get a craving for them they’re not ask to make and you can make them smaller than shop bought ones for a more delicate biscuit to go with cheese after dinner. They’re also very economical to make. This recipe makes about 40 biscuits.

So what do you need?

  • 250g porridge oats
  • 50g whole meal flour
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)

So what do you do?

First preheat your oven to about 190 degrees C / 375F. If you have a baking stone then put it in the oven to heat up. Then put the oats in a food processor and grind them until they become like a rough flour still with about a third still in oat pieces. Then heat about 80ml of water and add a tsp. of sea salt and the butter until it melts. Mix the flour in with the oats and then pour in the water and butter. Mix everything together with a spoon until it comes together  in a ball. If necessary add a little more hot water to bring everything together. Put the mixture on a floured work surface and roll it out until it’s as thin as you want the oatcakes I made mine slightly thinner than shop bought ones. The with a cookie cutter of your desired size, I used one 4cms and one 5 cms in diameter. Cut out the oatcakes and the reroll any extra mixture and repeat. Then put the oatcakes on a baking stine or baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes and then turn them over for about 10 minutes on the other side so they dry out completely. Then put them on wire racks to cool. Enjoy with your favourite cheese!

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Snacks, Thai Food

Fried tofu with Thai herbs & cashew nuts

This makes a really tasty and attractive snack, starter or part of a bigger Thai meal.

Start by preparing your Thai herbs and spices. I finely sliced the more tender insides of four or five lemongrass stems lengthways, julienned a large red chilli, sliced about four red shallots, 3 cloves of garlic and tore a few kaffir lime leaves.

In a wok with about half a cup of hot oil I started by frying the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves, as they take a little longer, after about a minute I added the shallots and fried for another minute then added chilli, garlic, a couple of bunches of fresh green peppercorns and a couple of handfuls of cashew nuts and fried everything until it was golden and crisp and then drained them. You can use large dried chillis instead, of the fresh one, which will go crisp and can be crumbled on the risotto for an extra kick of spiciness (these don’t take long to cook so add them near the end of the frying process.)

Next I cube a couple of blocks of form tofu (about 500g). I then fried this in the same oil, turning occasionally) until crisp and golden brown (you may need to fry the tofu in two batches). I then drained the tofu and put it on a serving plate and scattered the herbs and nuts over the top. I served with a chilli dipping sauce with some extra dried chilli (optional) and coriander leaves in it.

 

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Baking, Brunch, Snacks, Something sweet

Crumpets

I’ve never made crumpets in the UK as they’re readily available in the shops but here in Chiang Mai I’ve never seen them for sale so the only option is to make them yourself. They’re great for breakfast or as a tea time treat. If you want to have them first thing in the morning then make the yeast batter the night before and put it in the fridge and just add the bicarbonate of soda in the morning. This recipe is based on Paul Hollywood’s and makes a baker’s dozen.

So what do you need?

  • 150g strong (bread) flour
  • 150g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 2tsp quick acting yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 150ml hot water
  • 150ml milk
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 125ml warm water

So what do you do?

Put the flour, yeast, and sugar in a bowl or a mixer. Mix the milk and hot water together in a measuring jug and put it in to the bowl. Mix everything together for about 3 -4 minutes. This will help make a good batter. Then cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour. Then mix the bicarbonate of soda and salt into 125mls of warm water and add this to the batter and mix it in. Leave the batter for 15-20 mins and it should be quite frothy / bubbly.

Oil a thick bottomed frying pan or a flat griddle and heat it up on a low is heat. Then put 4 greased crumpet / egg rings on it and  laden some batter in each of the rings. Don’t make them too thick or the won’t cook through about 1.5cms of batter should be enough as they will bubble up a bit while cooking. You need to cook them quite slowly so that they cook through without burning on the bottom. They will bubble and slowly cook through. When they are dried out run a knife round the rings to remove the crumpets and flip them over to cook on the other side. Note if you make them too thick and the tops haven’t dried out during the first stage of cooking the holes will be sealed up by the wet batter when you turn them over, if this happens you can split them when you serve them as they will still have holes in the middle. It takes a bit of experimentation to get the thickness and heat right, whatever I’m sure they will be delicious. Serve hot with plenty of butter and honey or jam. They are also good with butter and marmite, and toasted with cheese, if you prefer something savoury.

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Baking, Snacks, Veggie mains

Curried veggie pasties

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These are an adaptation of my cheesy veggie pasties and are a samosa / pasty hybrid.

Follow the cheesy veggie pasties recipe but add a teaspoon of curry powder and 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds to the pastry. For the filling add a couple of tablespoons of plain yoghurt, 2 tsp of curry powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, a tsp of toasted cumin seeds, and a handful of chopped coriander leaves (you can also swap the cheddar for a tub of cottage cheese and the butter beans for chickpeas or lentils if you like). Follow the instructions for the cheesy pasties. These go really well with mango chutney.

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