The reason these are called “ultimate” is a nod to my inspiration which is a lovely chap called Pemba Lama, who wrote a fabulous cookery book called the Ultimate Nepalese Cookbook . I hadn’t looked at my copy for a while because it fell down the back of my book shelf and I’d forgotten about it but then I decided to reorganise that shelf unit and found it and on the same day the book came up on Facebook as a recommendation so I felt the cookery elves were trying to give me a hint.
On skimming through the book for ideas, I came across Pemba’s recipe for pyazis – known to most of us as onion bhaji. It was the suggestion of adding vinegar to make a crispy batter that got me thinking. Pemba uses gram flour but I had besan open – they are very similar but besan has split yellow peas as well as chickpeas.
I had some leeks that were getting to the end of their useful life and one thought led to another. I’ve never had leek bhaji before but will definitely make them again – a little lighter than onion bhaji but still one of your five a day! I was really pleased with the result.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough – his YouTube videos are worth a watch too. Lovely man.
I would recommend using a non-stick wok style pan for these and cooking them in batches of about five. You’ll need about 75cl of vegetable oil. I used rapeseed oil for these. Olive oil would not work as it doesn’t have a high enough smoke point.
4 large leeks
1 large onion
10 birds eye chillis, chopped
2 green peppers
Small bunch of chives, chopped
1 teaspoon table salt
50ml white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons turmeric
200g besan flour
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
- Finely slice the leeks and wash in cold water then leave to drain and dry in a colander for half an hour or so
- Cut the onion in half then slice as finely as possible
- Slice the green peppers in fine strips
- In a large bowl, mix together, with your fingers is best, the leeks and onions
- Sprinkle over the salt then mix again and add the vinegar
- Stir and then leave for five minutes, which will allow the salt to start to draw liquid from the onion and leeks
- Add the peppers and chillis and fork through
- Mix together the turmeric, flour and pepper and sieve together
- Gradually add the flour mix to the leek and onions and fork through thoroughly
- Leave the mixture for about 15 minutes – the water in the leeks and onion will leech out into the batter
- Heat vegetable oil in a wide deep pan, about an inch deep over a high heat
- Lightly oil a baking sheet and start to spoon tablespoon sized dollops of the mixture onto the sheet. I did mine five at a time as that seemed to be the optimum for my pan
- Using a spatula, gently drop the dollops into the hot oil and fry until golden on one side then flip and fry until golden on the other (mine took about two minutes per side)
- Using a wire scoop, remove the bhaji from the oil onto absorbent kitchen towel on a plate to soak up any excess oil and repeat frying until you’ve used up all the mixture
- I’m not sure how many this made as we kept eating them whilst they were cooking and lost count!