I think I must have been Indian in a past life.  I love love love Indian food: not only is it super delicious but I always feel a little healthier the next day (must be all those herbs and spices).  And what better way to enjoy this cuisine than with some fun, tasty and easy-peasy Indian street food ?

I’ve only recently started cooking my own Indian dishes from scratch.  The thing is, there is a perception that many Indian recipes (when made authentically) have a rather involved process: grinding, tempering, making batters, preparing condiments…  so if you want a bountiful spread for your table, expect to be chained to the kitchen for the better part of your weekend.  Well, I’m here to tell you: it can be done, and you certainly don’t have to break your back !

I don’t hope to quash the popularity of the local Indian take-out (yes, I do indulge – see my favourite place in Sydney at the end of this post).  As convenient as it is, take-out is often greasy, bland and packed with MSG.  Take my word for it, nothing beats traditional, homemade Indian cuisine.

I have done the dirty work and found some yummy recipes with under 5 ingredients that will have you churning out beautiful Indian street food without even breaking a sweat.  This post is a double-dose of Southeast Asian goodness: Onion Bhajis & my version of Mangupullu (crispy deep-fried lentil batons).  All you need are a few spices & pulses and a deep fryer or heavy based pan.  Now don’t panic calorie-counters: if your fryer is heated to the correct temperature, the fried food hardly absorbs any of the cooking oil (see for yourself: when you’re finished cooking you will have almost the same quantity of oil as you did to start off with).

These recipes are adapted from my close-second favourite Christmas present (in first place a new food dehydrator), India: The Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant.  It’s Southeast Asia’s answer to the French Je sais cuisiner or Italian The Silver Spoon.

onion bhajis

serves 10

150g (1 cup) gram/ besan (chickpea) flour
1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
2 tsp ajwain seeds (if you can’t find these substitute for dried thyme or oregano and black pepper)
1kg (6 large) onions, sliced thinly
salt
vegetable, peanut, sunflower or grapeseed oil; for frying

  • Put the gram flour in a large bowl and add enough water to make a thick batter.  Add the baking soda, ajwain seeds, salt to taste and onions.  Mix well to coat the onions.
  • Heat enough oil for deep-frying to 180C in a deep-fryer or a deep, heavy-based pan.  When hot enough, a cube of bread should brown in 30 seconds.
  • Carefully drop spoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil and deep-fry for 4 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

mangupullu (crispy deep-fried lentil batons)

serves 10

100g (1/2 cup) yellow lentils or chana dal, rinsed and drained (can also use moong dal or other lentil varieties)
200g (1 cup) basmati rice, rinsed and drained
75g (1/2 cup) gram/ besan (chickpea) flour
1tsp sesame seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
salt
vegetable, peanut, sunflower or grapeseed oil; for frying

  • Put the lentils and rice into a blender and process until well ground (you may need to do this in batches if your blender isn’t very strong).
  • Transfer to a bowl and add the gram flour, sesame seeds, cumin seeds and season with salt.  Mix in enough water to make a very thick paste.
  • Heat enough oil for deep-frying to 180C in a deep-fryer or a deep, heavy-based pan.  When hot enough, a cube of bread should brown in 30 seconds.
  • Put the paste into a piping bag fitted with a large nozzle, pipe short sticks directly into the hot oil and deep fry for 3 minutes, or until crisp.  Alternatively you can drop small spoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil to make mung bean ‘balls’.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

mint and cucumber raita (yogurt)

serves 10

1 large cucumber, halved, seeded, coarsely grated
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup (packed) chopped fresh mint
1 tsp ground cumin
salt

  • Mix all ingredients together and season with salt for a refreshing condiment.

3 Comments

[email protected] June 2, 2021 at 3:37 pm

Great looking bhajis! Yum.

[email protected] June 5, 2021 at 12:23 am

Hi Katie – I think it’s great to dispel the myth that good, healthy Indian food takes hours of preparation and slaving behind the stove.
I too love cooking and eating Indian food (grew up eating lots of it!) – Must take a look at that cookbook. Thanks!

Rachael June 6, 2021 at 7:55 pm

This looks incredible! Thanks for including both sets of measurements for everything.

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