It was this recipe that started me off in doing this project as Margaret included it in her book and attributed it to me.
Certainly in the 60s we seemed to have sour cream with everything. I could never work out why soured cream was always cheaper than fresh cream especially as one way to convert the one to the other is to just add some lemon juice.
This rates with the great balance of trade conundrum which proves to me the existence of aliens. [If you add together the trade accounts for all countries on Earth, you find that the Earth as an whole is exporting more than it imports so clearly aliens are buying up the surplus.......please explain]
A popular use for the stuff was as a sauce for baked potatoes.
Slice a baking potato into rounds and interleave each round with a slice of onion, re-assemble into a potato shape, wrap in aluminium foil to hold it all together and bake in the oven as usual. When cooked, douse with sour cream and serve.
When we returned to England from Buffalo in 1970 we met an ex-student of mine and invited him for a meal. Yes, he would be pleased to come so long as we 'didn't serve that meat stuff in a white sauce!' So much for beef stroganoff.
Incidentally, I would add lots of closed cup mushrooms to the mix and if you would like a veggie version, just omit the beef.
Slice the steak across the grain very thinly, trimming off the fat. You want pieces about 5cm x 2cm as thin as you can get. Slice the onions and pepper fairly thinly. Fry the mushrooms with the garlic then add the onion and pepper until they are just cooked but still crisp. Remove from the pan and then stir fry the beef in hot oil until just coloured. Stir in the paprika and the cooked vegetables allow to cool slightly then stir in the cream. Serve immediately.
Cook the rice a bit underdone, gently poach the fish in the milk.
Flake the fish into the drained rice and mix in the peas. Put all in an oven proof dish, add the poaching liquid, cover with the pastry and bake for about 40 minutes in a medium oven.
Instead of using a pastry cover, use creamed mashed potatoes for the topping. In this case its easier to poach the fish in the milk beforehand and then the pie can be browned under the grill. No need for the rice and peas.
In December, 2002 I went to Barbados for Nanette's wedding. When I got back, I realised that I had had flying fish every day that I had been there and was lamenting that now I was back in Blighty it would be unlikely that I would have them again. Shopping in Summerfield my first day back to my surprise, I thought I saw flying fish! Closer inspection revealed these to be fresh sardines, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that from a culinary point of view it would be hard to tell the difference.
Fillet the fish and rub lime juice and salt into it and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Rub the Bajun seasoning into the spaces left by the bones when you filleted the fish.
Gently fry the peppers, onion, garlic, then add the chopped tomato and parsley. Add water and more lime juice and bring to a boil, then add the flying fish and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Whilst on the topic of herrings, a fishmonger used to come to the village and our old friend Miss Fowles used to like to buy a herring each week. Perhaps this is why she lived into her 90s. She was always incredulous about the price. Herring in her youth would have been 'two a penny' and now all that you got was "a herrin' for a shillin'".
Next time you spend 5p on a herrin', try coating it in oatmeal before gently frying it. Watch out for the bones though.
This works with most pre-cooked fish. It came about through having fewer than expected guests for a baked salmon one evening and wanting to use up the leftovers.
Mix all the ingredients and then bake in a moderate oven for 40 minutes or so.
I've been doing this with farmed sea bass which seem to be readily available and are very nice fish. Either use them whole or as fillets but any oily fish will do.
You could even use 'edless reds' as suggested by this Live Journal entry.
I've just been to East Ham market to buy some fresh fish for this evening's meal. The fishmonger detecting that I was prevaricating, made a suggestion as to what I should buy, he suggested Icelandic sea bream. "'cos these are 'edless and gutless so you only gets what you pay for."
Well Ok i'll have that one!
He went on to describe how these were his favourites and divers ways of cooking them.
Anyway I was pleased with my purchase and asked him to repeat their name so I could buy them again if successful. "yes" he says, "they are what we calls edless reds'". So they are though I rather presume that at one time they did also have heads.
Pitted olives are OK for cooking but just check the tin when you buy them to make sure that they are really black olives and not dyed green ones. This may take careful reading of the contents list, which is normally beyond my failing powers.
Gently fry the onions, garlic and condiments in the olive oil and add the chopped tomatoes as you chop them.
Cook until the tomatoes break down a bit and you have a nice oily sauce, add the olives and the mezze mix.
Place the fish fillet on this mixture and continue cooking until one side is done, then turn the fish over and do the other side.
If using a whole fish, balance it on its backbone first, then do each side in turn.
Try not to cook the fish more than once on each side and work the mixture into the cavity after each turn.
In 2004 I went to a re-union at Cortland. This was especially for the fraternity which was having a special do. There was much reminiscing and we were asked to jot down some of them. This is mine and Jim Newlands is on my left.
It was great to meet you all at the reunion weekend, to renew old acquaintances and to make new ones. As someone from the class of '67, caught in the middle so to speak, hearing first hand of the move from Port Watson Street, and then of the final years at 59 Tompkins Street was of particular interest. Despite the final difficulties, the strong traditions of Gamma obviously held good to the end as shown by the great gathering of 'stout hearted men' brought together by the reunion. So thanks and appreciation to all.
Thanks also to Jim Newlands who reminded me of his most famous faux pas as house steward when he decided to widen the culinary experiences of the brotherhood by serving smoked Polish kielbasa and sauerkraut as the evening meal. Now Jim compounded his error by ordering a prodigious quantity of kielbasa with the result that not only was this not the most popular of meals but there was also a large surplus. Jim relates that when he went to bed that night he was shocked to find his bed inhabited by a large and thick snake one not familiar to him.....and there was another under his pillow, and another at the bottom of the bed and....well lots of them.
At the time, I was house president, and those kielbasa kept turning up in odd places throughout the house as the cleaning details took their toll. Two turned up over a year later, one in a lampshade and the other behind a fire extinguisher. There are probably some still at large on Tompkins Street to this day.
Thanks also to Neil Greenfield for a great BBQ at his house the night before we left and also for the hint to visit the Wegmans store on our way home, which we did. What should I find there but kielbasa. I have to admit that this is why I know how to spell it, because I bought a bunch and the sauerkraut to go with it and have been enjoying it now that I am back home. A poignant and pungent reminder of times past. Should any of you come to stay with me, I should warn that there is a bit left, so don't get too frightened when you jump into bed.
I am also puzzling about what it might look like on an x-ray. When I picked up my baggage from the arrival carrousel at Heathrow, it had a sweet note attached to it from security informing me that they had opened my case 'for security reasons', presumably to check out the coiled sticks of tnt with their sauerkraut detonator. Little do they know that the explosion only happens once you have eaten it.
Lidl's is a good source of kielbasa and sauerkraut although I don't always partake of the latter. I do like the kielbasa though. I boil it up in a single pan with rigatoni and usually broccoli. Start with the pasta, then add the sausage and then finally the broccoli so they are all ready at the same time.
In 2001 we had a summer break in the US and met up with Sj in Syracuse. At the time, she was working for the "Centre for Really Neat Research" and as this meant occupying a re-claimed fraternity house, it also meant that there was room enough for us to stay.A link to the center, Sj in the middle of the balcony.
One evening Sj announced that she would invite some friends round and that she would do the cooking. This sounded very good to me so on the appointed evening, we opened a few beers, watched Sj running round the kitchen and awaited the arrival of the friends.
No sign of the friends but the rest of us were getting a bit hungry so Sj put the pie in the oven. I should digress here to say that as this was an ex-fraternity house, the stove was a commercial one and was somewhat larger than the customary, rather modest affairs to be found in American homes.
Anyway, there was still no sign of the friends but at least the pie was in the oven and should they appear they could join in with our piping hot pie. At the end of the appointed baking time, still no friends but if they are going to be this late, they can eat our left over crumbs. When the oven was opened we were greeted by the warm glow of the pilot light and that was all, certainly there was no crispy spinach pie! The main burners had failed to ignite and our food was uncooked. This was soon remedied and at last the friends and the pie arrived hot to table.
This is Sj's spinach pie recipe though I think that I would reduce the butter and add a few crushed garlic cloves. [Scallions is the American name for spring onions]
here is the spinach pie recipe you wanted cj...
Drain/squeeze Spinach so that there is no water remaining in it. In large frying pan melt one stick butter and sauté spinach and scallions.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until fluffy, stir in feta and cottage cheese. Add spinach mixture and set aside.
Melt remaining butter.
Place 12 layers of filo dough in deep sided cookie tray, being sure to paint the edges of each sheet with butter before adding the next. Do not butter the top sheet, instead spread spinach mixture over it and then layer the remaining filo dough over it.
When you run out of filo, pour remaining butter over the top such that the entire top has a thin coat of butter over it.
Refrigerate for an hour or so to allow it to set.
Pre cut then bake at 350 for 50 mins.
This used to be a cheap Cribbit staple in the early days and the Coq bit was not taken too literary as I would often buy a huge turkey drum stick for 99p. For some reason, tw always refers to this as cock en vent and I know that he won't be including the mushrooms but I think they are the best bit.
Gently fry the mushrooms in the oil and garlic so they are golden all over and their texture changes from 'goat brain' to 'garden slug'
Add the onions, the coq and the red wine. I rarely fry the meat first as many do as I can't tell the difference and in this case will be throwing away the skin anyway.
It can now be gently simmered for about 90 minutes depending on the meat. Fresh chicken will probably need little more than 20 minutes.
Once the meat is cooked and falls easily off the bone, remove it from the pan, strip off skin and sinews, keeping the meat as intact as possible. Reduce the gravy. Return to the pan, correct the seasoning, warm back up and serve.
In the 70s, we used to spend most summer weekends on Anglesey with John in a caravan at Morfa Buchan. We sailed and fished and generally lived like savages.
Barbequing was practically unknown in Britain at that time and as it was our main method of cooking, we were often the subject of much scrutiny. Once a group of kids came up to us and asked if we were burning our meat. We explained that we were charcoaling it. This intelligence was taken away and at length one of them said 'Oh yes we know about that, we have coal in Liverpool' then they all ran off.
In those days, Anglesey was 'dry' on Sundays and the pubs were shut. Now our favourite pastime was sailing to either Red Wharf Bay or Moelfre, depending on inclination, wind and tide for a lunchtime pint or two. Of course there was not much point in doing this on Sundays, so then, we would have a BBQ on the beach with freshly caught mackerel and bottled beer thoughtfully bought the day before. I can still smell the mackerel cooking and the onlookers envying our cooked meal AND our bottles of beer!
Mackerel does especially well on the BBQ I think as its oily nature feeds the fire and its flesh is improved. Like all fish, it needs gentle treatment and should only be turned once over a low fire.
We used to do hamburgers too but then you had to ask the butcher to add a bit of extra fat and I always added a dash of water to the mix. None of this is needed to-day!
More recently, we have been big game hunting, via the internet, as a
nice tease of home to South African friends.
Jordi cooks up Springbok, Blesbok, Kudu, Wildebeest steaks from Alternative Meats, Boerwrust from Stratford Market
"The Kudu is known for its spectacular long spiral horns and its name
is derived from the Hottentot name "koodoo". These antelope browse on a
very wide range of plants including a variety of leaves, herbs, fruits,
vines and flowers. The meat is coarse grained and dark red"
Available from: Alternative Meats
Kola visited us at Catslide very soon after we had got the keys and put in a day's labour which was very good of him. NOT so good of him was to play our version of pat tennis with Rosemary. His body was nothing but a blur as he strove to return the ball and the poor dog hardly got a look in at retrieving a lost one.
If I'm doing steaks, I usually layer them one on top of the other with a layer of crushed garlic and freshly ground pepper between them. Cook hot and for no longer than 10 minutes, try to turn once only. Treat thick cuts like chicken, quickly seal over the hot part of the grill then cook more slowly turning regularly to distribute the heat.
Prepare Some sort of filling baked in the oven with tomatoes. Minced lamb is the meat of choice in Greece.
Make up the sauce in a pan over a low heat by adding the flour to the olive oil, stirring well in and add milk little by little to keep a thick paste. Some do this over a double boiler but that is too much effort for me. Keep the heat low, the pan moving and the sauce stirred and it will be alright. Keep adding milk as the sauce thickens to keep it from overheating. When you have a creamy flour sauce, allow to cool a bit and add the well beaten eggs and stir all around. You can add some grated mousetrap cheese too, if you like, but don't overdo it, this is not a cheese sauce.
Slice the aubergine and the courgette transversely and arrange a mixed layer in the oiled oven dish. Pour over a layer of the filling and repeat until the dish is full. Pour the sauce over the lot and sprinkle a little nutmeg on top.
Bake in a slow[ish] oven for at least 90 minutes, longer if possible. [Start with the oven at 200C, reduce to 150C after 15 minutes and then cook for 45 minutes, reducing the temperature again to 110C for another hour. Switch off the oven and leave for another 30 minutes, if you have the time!!!]
Christmas dinners have featured game in some guise or other for the past few years. One year, we went to the Sheldonian for a Christmas concert after a day shopping in Oxford. We had seats high in the building, backing on the top bay windows. These provided a very convenient shelf on which to store our shopping bags, including one rather full with game from the market. As these were also cool we were congratulating ourselves on the excellent seats that included refrigeration for our Christmas dinner. As the concert went on, we became aware of a rather distinct and recognisable smell of ripe pheasant wafting over the audience. We maintained a look of perfect innocence but were careful to hide the name of the purveyor emblazoned on the bag when we left.
It was also a remarkable concert in that half the audience died during the performance. Hardly had the orchestra struck up but the wail of an ambulance could be heard and the first old man was wheeled out of the auditorium. No sooner were we settled than the whole action was repeated again, this time with the assistance of medically qualified members of the audience. When it happened a third time we decided that Christmas concerts were probably a risk to health and better avoided.
Cram the quail into the partridge, the partridge into the pheasant and then the pheasant into the duck. Roast for 90 minutes or so. It's a tight fit so you have to be brutal. Serve with
The shooting reason has just ended and as tw has the car, an alternative method of pheasant mortification, this makes it unlikely that I will get to cook pheasant again until October, by which time I will have forgotten how to do it so it is recorded here.
First get your pheasant and that comes straight from Mrs. Beeton. Next pour yourself a large glass of wine, have a small sip and assemble your utensils. This is one small pyrex roasting dish with tight fitting lid. Better wash it if this is October, at other times it will have been in regular use. Better have another sip of wine as no one likes washing up. Stick the bird in the pot, breast down and pour the rest of the wine over it, top up the glass and put another squirt in with the bird. Put on the lid and put in the oven at high heat. Drink some more of the wine and after about 30 mins take the dish out of the oven, turn over the bird and replace in the oven for another 30 min or so at medium heat.
And that is it!!! no basting no bacon no lard no fuss!! Comes out pink, tender and juicy!!! with a nice stock at the bottom for the gravy.
This is sj's favourite although her reasons for wanting it are a little suspect. This always comes to table to chants of 'kill the bunny' and further exhortations like 'lovely fluffy bunny, yumm, yumm, yumm'
Sarah insists that the pie should also contain the vegetables but they can be done separately if you have more than three diners.
Rabbit usually cooks quickly, though the old alpha male shot at Mynydd Bach took a bit more than most before he was fit for consumption.
Fry up the rabbit, garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil and give it a bit of a poke. If it looks as though it will be tender, throw in the onions and the red wine and deposit all in the pie dish. If not throw in the beer/wine and simmer until the meat starts to tenderise, then throw it in the pie dish with the onions on top.
Now add the vegetables on top of the rabbit, salt and pepper and add a bit more wine if it looks as though it needs it. Drink some yourself whatever.
Cover with pastry and bake at 200 C for 45 minutes. Its a good idea to support the pastry on an upside down cup. Not a pastry funnel. As the pie cooks, gravy gets drawn into the cup and when the pie is opened there is extra gravy.
All the recipes that follow start off with the same treatment of the filling.
All use tins of chopped tomatoes and of course I have a prejudice here. The expensive sort come in a thick sauce which I don't think does as well as the special 'el cheapo' kind that the supermarkets keep on their bottom shelves away from prying eyes and at much reduced cost. I have also noticed that these tend to come in old fashioned tins that you open with a tin opener. These are to be preferred as I can never open the 'easy open' ones without spilling their contents.
If using lentils, boil them until they are al dente and then treat them as though they are the minced meat. They will need more olive oil to fry them than the meat.
If using minced meat, its probably better to fry this up on its own first and then drain off the fat and extra water that they will have added to 'enhance' it.
In a skillet, fry minced meat, garlic onions, mushrooms. When the meat is browned, pour one or more tins of chopped tomatoes over the lot. Allow to simmer for a short while.
Make the filling as above.
Splash olive oil on the bottom of your lasagne dish and arrange a layer of un-cooked lasagne noodles across the bottom.
Break off the corners to get a good fit in the dish.
Cover with a layer of the filling and spread strips of mozzarella over it and add blobs of low fat cheese. Continue with layers of noodle and filling until all is used up, reserving the full fat cheese for the upper layers. Bake in a slow[ish] oven for at least an hour.
Stuff the cannelloni with the filling mix, put in an oven dish, add tinned or fresh chopped tomatoes, strips of mozzarella over with a final grating of mousetrap cheddar and bake for 45 minutes in a moderate oven.
Home made canelloni are very easy to make, see the section on using the Pasta Machine.
Dissect a cabbage into individual leaves and boil a few of them until they are no longer brittle, you may need to remove the centre midriff if this remains too hard. Wrap the filling mixture in the individual cabbage leaves and process as for Cannelloni.
Use grape leaves in the same way as the cabbage above. They can be bought preserved.
A variation is to mix the filling with boiled rice, makes it go much further, add lots of lemon juice.
Bake in a shallow oven tray with chopped tomatoes or a little chicken stock. Serve with Avgolemono, [egg and lemon sauce]
When I lived in Cortland sometimes we used to go over to Homer to the Homeville Diner for Saturday lunch. Last time I was there I noticed that this has now been made into a museum of 'how we were'. It was a genuine old railroad car and Denny used to make what he called stuffed peppers which we always had with homefries.
Denny was the original greasy spoon cook and I have to say that the oil does make for a better dish than when less is used.
Pour some olive oil into an oven dish, about 2mm deep. [Less if you are really concerned about you health] Cover the bottom of the dish with peppers cut into quarters longitudinally. You see I lied about the stuffed bit, these peppers are all but flat! Cover, but sparsely, with some sort of filling baked in the oven with tomatoes and bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes. The peppers should be soft, covered in oil and pungent. [That's why the green ones are best]. Serve with a slotted spoon to reduce the fat.
The chopped tomatoes are not essential for this but you do need to replace their moisture content with something else, red wine, soy sauce, brown beer all come to mind.
Cover a layer of the filling mix above with creamed mashed potatoes. Scour the surface with a fork and either bake in a very hot oven to brown the top or stick it under the grill.
When we lived at Witney, we invited Rosemary's mother to stay for the weekend so she could join us at a friend's surprise 50th birthday party. Rosemary warned me that her mother liked rather traditional English cooking so I settled on steak and kidney pie with Brussel sprouts as a vegetable.
The meal was a success and we all toddled off to the golf club for the party and barn dance. Now I'm convinced that it was the Do Si Dos that did it but the combination of the sprouts, the kidneys and the exercise had a most deleterious effect on me and I soon realised that I was slowly clearing the dance floor. At least the progressive dances enabled escape from the effluvia and then all that was needed was an accusative Paddington bear stare at however was left behind.
Fry up the mushrooms in some oil and then add the meat, onions and the beer. Simmer until the meat is tender.
Put in oven proof dish, cover with the pastry and bake for 45 minutes or so. Its a good idea to support the pastry on an upside down cup. Not a pastry funnel. As the pie cooks, gravy gets drawn into the cup and when the pie is opened there is extra gravy.
I only discovered the Tagine a couple of years ago when Jordi and I went to see Eve Best as Hedda Gabla at the Almeida theatre in Islington. After the play we went to Magreb, a Moroccan restaurant. The meal was splendid and the presentation in the Tagine spectacular. I just had to get one!
This is my recipe for a fish Tagine.
Layer the ingredients in the Tagine in their order in the ingredients list.
Put the fish on a bed of fennel and put slices of lemon on top of it. Chop the tomatoes and pile on top including their juice. Top off with the spices and a good shot of olive oil.
Bake for as long as you can in a moderate oven.
This week, I actually got round to reading the instructions that came with my tagine. It's by Emile Henry and they say that it can be used on a stove top. Now this was a surprise. I'm not sure if other tagines can take this treatment but it certainly makes the cooking easier for a simple dish.
Now this revelation was timely, as I was just back from the farmers' market in Thame with pheasant breasts [3 packs of four 'sides' for a tenner, that's equivalent to six mortified pheasants], and 5 lemons, expecting to make a last batch of lemonade for the hot indian summer, now but a fading memory, but just the ingredients for a pheasant tagine.
Preserved lemons are a common tagine ingredient and I have bought jars of them in the past, [Waitrose stock them] but they are simple to make, especially when their main ingredient has become redundant with the dark nights and first frosts.
Wash the lemons well and cut into slices. Arrange the slices in layers in a container and sprinkle each layer liberally with the salt. Splash over some strong vinegar, cover with olive oil and refrigerate.
Fry the pheasant in the olive oil in the tagine on the stove top, if you think yours can stand the treatment. Once the meat is sealed, add the onions and garlic and fry gently and then the rest of the ingredients. Add water to less than cover and then simmer gently for 30 minutes or so.
Serve with rice or couscous.
A quote from "The Witches of Eastwick" by John Updike, Penguin Books
"I remember one year with the zucchini," Sukie responded, setting the jars [of tomato sauce] dutifully on a cupboard shelf from which she would never take them down. .......
......"I did everything," she said to Alexandra, relishing in exaggeration, her active hands flickering in the edges of her own vision. "Zucchini bread, zucchini soup, zucchini salad, frillata, zucchini stuffed with hamburger and baked, cut into slices and fried, cut into sticks to use with dip, it was WILD. I even threw a bit into the blender and told the children to put it on their bread instead of peanut butter. Monty was desperate, he said his shit smelled of zucchini."
Well this summer, 2009, we know how she feels!!
We have done as many, maybe more! so here are a few courgette recipes:
Slice the courgettes along their length and cut into pieces approx 5cm x 2cm x 2cm or so. ie quite chunky pieces.
Gently fry the onions and garlic in the butter, throw in the peas and beans then add the courgettes, ginger and the sauces. Shake around for a bit until the courgettes are heated through rather than cooked.
Cut the courgettes into 2cm cubes [approx].
Gently fry the onions and garlic in the oil, add the chopped tomatoes and courgettes. You need a generous helping of the oil so should have a rather rich sauce of olive oil and toato. This can also be done with tinned tomatoes but is not as good. Use less oil if using tinned tomatoes.
Last summer, tw was cruising Cribbit up towards Hertford and got talking to another boater about our handy set up for single handing the boat. Tw explained how to use the long warp tied to the boat at bow and stern. The boater was so pleased with tw's advice that he gave tw a large marrow, freshly picked from his allotment. Actually, I think he tossed the marrow to him and then did a run for it. Tw then shouted after him 'Thanks, but how do you cook it?' to which the reply was 'STUFF IT!!!'
So this is how:
First be kind to a boater with an allotment and a marrow. Cut the marrow lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Warm up the marrow in the oven and then fill the hole left by the seeds with Some sort of filling baked in the oven with tomatoes. Bake in a slow[ish] oven until the marrow is cooked.
Tender pork in a sweet ginger and soya sauce.
Fry the pork in the olive oil until all the water that has been added has been released and you can actually fry it. Reserve and then sweat off the onions garlic and ginger. Return the pork to the pan. Add the beer and a good slug of ketjap and the treacle. If you don't have ketjap manis add ordinary soy sauce, an extra teaspoon of treacle and 2 teaspoons of brown sugar. Simmer for half an hour or so.
Serve with boiled rice, Krupeuks and pieces of cucumber.
You may have noticed that so far there have been no recipes for Indian food on cooking on cribbit. This is not because I don't make Indian food, rather it's because I'm not very good at it! Having observed Pallavi in her kitchen I just feel incapable. She has a round container, divided into compartments from which she dispenses spices at the speed of light. The results are excellent. I'm afraid all I do is add pre-mixed spices to whatever I happen to have handy.
Having said that, here are a few suggestions.
Sweat the onions and garlic in some olive oil and then add the boiled potatoes and spinach. Add curry spices [to taste] and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Serve with naan bread or rice or eat on its own.
I like the combination of the fresh and the frozen spinach. The aim is to have a green sauce for this and the frozen spinach is a simple way to get it.
Replace the potatoes with pieces of lamb or chicken and you have lamb sag or chicken sag.
I've been working on this recipe for some time and I think I have it about right now. You will need gram flour for this. I usually buy mine from the ethnic aisle in Tesco now I have moved away from London. The flour comes with a recipe but I have found that as this is provided by the manufacturer, it is designed to use as much flour as possible, so it makes rather dense bhajia. Gram flour is ground up chick peas and is glutten free.
I don't have onion bhajia often when I go to an Indian restaurant as they are often deep fried which makes them delicious but dangerously fatty. I had some the other day which were more like 'scotch' pancakes with onions in them and they were excellent and this is my recipe for them.
If using yeast, mix the yeast with the warm water and a little sugar and leave to get going as you do for bread. If using baking powder mix with the gram flour.
Once the yeast is working well, mix in the flour until you have a fluid consistency, slightly thicker than for [English] pancakes, as for blinnis.
If you make the batter thicker, the bhajia will hold together in balls and can be deep fried.
We normally have poppadoms to start. I keep my eyes open for hot pickles when I am out and about on the Rialto but all the supermarkets have their own selection. I particularly like the hot mixed pickle. Poppadoms are also readily available. I usually buy them ready made and cooked as I seem to be incapable of remembering them once they are under the grill.
Finely chop an onion and add a little thinly sliced tomato or sweet pepper. Serve with a yoghurt sauce made by mixing yoghurt with fresh mint. I am always surprised how little fresh mint you need or how much dried!