Begun Bhaja- Spicy Eggplant Fritters

When I became a vegetarian, the first thing most people said to me was “what will you eat now? Salads? Yuk!”

I can understand their sentiment. All my favorite things from McDonald’s and KFC were no longer suitable for me. And eating french fries the whole time was just not an option.

As an Indian, I am luckier than other people who go vegan/vegetarian and have no other options besides salad and fruit. My country’s culinary wealth is such that I don’t have to worry about options.

Among my go-to comfort foods is a humble, inexpensive Bengali gem, which takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and tastes like your mother’s love when you get good grades.

Here is my recipe for this piece of awesomeness. This one serves 4 people

You will need:

Long, purple eggplant- 3 medium sized

Water for soaking

Red chili powder/paprika powder- 2 tablespoons (you can go easy on it for a less spicy version)

Turmeric Powder- 1 tablespoon

Coriander powder- 1/2 teaspoon

Garam Masala- 1/4 teaspoon

Dried Mango Powder (Aamchur)- 1/3 teaspoon

Honey- 1/2 teaspoon (Use finely powdered sugar to make this recipe vegan)

Olive Oil/ Vegetable Oil- 2 teaspoons

Salt- 1/2  (You can adjust it according to your taste)

Mustard Oil, for frying- 1/2 cup

Salt and Pepper – For sprinkling according to taste

Lemon juice- From 1 small lemon

Method:

1. Cut the eggplants into thin roundels and soak them in the water with a pinch of salt for half-an-hour

2. In a bowl, mix all the spices, the honey, the olive/vegetable oil, and half the salt

3. Take the eggplants out of the water and softly pat them dry with kitchen towels. Make sure they are completely dry

4. In a plate, spread the roundels and coat all of them evenly with the spice mixture in the bowl. Ensure that all the roundels are coated evenly. Let them sit for 15 minutes

5. Heat the mustard oil in a wok on a high flame till the oil is light yellow and devoid of its earlier pungent fragrance

6. Lower the flame and add a small batch of the eggplant roundels to the oil. Do not overcrowd the wok. If your wok is small, work with small batches that can comfortably fit into it

7. Fry the roundels evenly till they are a rich shade of golden-red.

8. Take them out in a serving dish lined with napkins/paper towels to soak up the excess oil

9. After frying all the eggplant, taste one to check the level of salt. Based on your assessment and preference, sprinkle more salt on the roundels if needed

10. Sprinkle a small amount of pepper evenly and squeeze/pour the lemon juice over the eggplant fritters

11. Serve hot with Masala Tea

Chef’s Tip: Try these on a cool, rainy day. They are a favorite monsoon staple in India. 

 

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So Good. So Satisfying.

 

 

 

 

 

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