Filled with tamarind and carom seeds, these peppers are crisp and flavorful with a subtle tinge of heat.
By Nandita Nataraj
The chili fritters or the mirapakaya bajji always makes me nostalgic. Since these fritters are a very common street food in my home town, savoring these spicy fritters was almost an everyday affair. Hundreds have been the evenings where we enjoyed these batter coated chili fritters with steaming cup of tea. Strangely though, these fritters were never made at home. It was always brought from the push cart vendor from street corner. I vaguely remember the chili fritters that he made were way different from what I have for you today. His fritters were stuffed. But then the stuffing was mostly a mixture of the humble cumin seed powder and red chili powder. The stuffing was simple. But then, it transformed the plain chili into something aromatic and exotic. I remember we couldn’t get enough of these crisp, batter coated peppers.
Despite all the nostalgia and the fond memories, I never thought of making these fritters at home. When I found these fresh jalapeños during one of my shopping trips, the memories came flooding back and I knew I had to make these at home. This recipe for the hyderabadi style mirapakaya bajjis were given to me by a neighbor and dear friend. I made a few changes to the recipe to suit our taste buds and outcome was delicious.
- Jalapeno chilies- 10, washed and pat dried
- For the stuffing:
- Tamarind- Size of a small lime
- Jaggery- 1tsp
- Salt to taste
- Ajwain or carom seeds- 1tsp
- Saunf or fennel seeds- a pinch
- Grated dry coconut- 2tbsp
- Gram flour- 1tsp
- For the Batter:
- Gram flour or besan- 6tbsp
- Rice flour- 1-1/2tbsp
- Salt- 1tsp
- Asafetida- a pinch
- Paprika powder- ½ tsp
- Water as needed
- Other ingredients:
- Oil to deep fry
- Make a 3" vertical slit in the green chilies and scoop out the ribs and seeds from the chilies and keep aside. You can choose to leave the seeds if you prefer your fritters extra hot.
- Soak the tamarind in quarter cup of water for 15mins. Extract the pulp and mix it with jaggery and salt.
- Transfer the tamarind mixture to a thick bottomed vessel and boil the mixture on low heat till the water is evaporated and a thick paste is formed. Take off the heat and set it aside.
- Dry roast the carom seeds and fennel seeds till fragrant (it doesn't have to turn brown) and set aside to cool.
- Dry roast the desiccated coconut for a few seconds and keep aside.
- Grind the toasted seeds and the grated coconut to a powder in blender till fine. Mix the gram flour and pulse till well combined.
- Add the ground mixture along to the tamarind pulp and mix to form a thick paste.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the gram flour, rice flour, salt, paprika powder and asafetida and mix well. Add water gradually to make a thick batter and keep aside.
- Stuff each chili with a tea spoon of the stuffing mixture and keep aside.
- Heat oil in a wok. To check if the oil is hot enough, drop a little batter into the oil. If the batter rises to the top slowly, then the oil is hot enough.
- At this stage, add two tea spoons of the hot oil to the prepared batter and mix it carefully.
- Dip the stuffed peppers in the batter to coat completely and place it in the pre heated oil and fry till the fritter turns golden in color.
- Repeat the same procedure for the rest of the stuffed peppers. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with a dip of your choice.
Nandita was born, bred and spread in India, but right now lives in Tanzania where her quest for simple and exotic pleasures of food led to the creation of the blog Paaka-Shaale. She believes that food is not just a means to feed a body. But it is also meant to appeal the mind and satiate the soul.