The weather is changing and there is a nip in the air! If you enjoy walking as much as I do, fall is your season! Here in New York, fall or autumn is a magical time.
The morning skies are clear blue with wispy while clouds, illuminated with golden mellow sunshine. Autumn is also back to school time, with the children are running around. There are yellow school busses out and about.
It is a perfect time of the year, for crisp and warm snacks. When, I think of snacks and munchies, Indian fritters called pakoras are high on my list. There is always a fine line between finding munchies that make the kids happy and are healthy for them, and happiness for them does not always signal a pakora, well until recently, with some repacking.
Cooking for me is always about finding a balance that allows for food that interests the children and its healthy and of course while we are at it, includes some elements of Indian cooking. I find the language of spices, a great medium for translating memories and creating more. My children however like it spoken softly and with great deliberation.
I often apply a core lesson from business school, when offering food to them – lessons of packaging and presentation. Learning and evolving food, is a constant presence in my cooking, and my reward is that “Aha” moment when the recipes resonate with my children. The good news here is that the palate gradually evolves, while they have always been good about eating fruits and vegetables, they are currently getting used to essential flavors of Indian spices and often stop by telling me how interesting the spices smell.
My childhood recipes often need a little bit of tweaking and re-positioning before they become a viable option for me children. An example here is my Bengali Style Onion Rings, a recipe from my cookbook, The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles. This recipe takes classic Bengali style pakoras called piyanjees and re-invents them as onion rings. Same ingredients, however the kids are more familiar with the concept of onion rings.
The chickpea batter is much healthier than flour and breading and tastes just as interesting. They have even found favor with others on the girls scout troupe who are fascinated by the shiny nigella seeds.
Try these crispy snacks, they work well for children, rainy days and satisfy anytime cravings. The batter is versatile and can be used for eggplants, cauliflower and any other vegetable that suits your fancy.
ONION RINGS WITH NIGELLA SEEDS – GOL PIYAJI
Recipe from The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles
These onion ring fritters are a well-loved roadside food in Bengal (although they are made more free-style) rather than done as rings) – hot and crisply fried, wrapped lovingly in newspaper bags.
There is a story behind the newspaper itself.
In India, recycling is perfected to an art form, designed with a 4-layer industry. First we have the purchaser of the original newspapers. Then that person saves and stacks the papers for the used newspaper buyer, a very essential middleman. When he arrives they settle on a price, the newspaper stack is weighted, and then he is on his way. He then sells the newspapers to the paper bag manufacturer, who makes the paper bags that are in turn bought by the vendors of the onion ring fritters.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Makes : 6 servings
4 mediums onions, tops removed and peeled
¾ cup chickpea flour
¾ teaspoon nigella seeds
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon black salt
Oil for frying
Cilantro to garnish
Cut the onions into ½-inch-thick rounds and separate the rounds.
Mix the chickpea flour and ½ cup of water into a thick batter (the consistency should coat easily).
Stir in the nigella seeds, cayenne pepper powder, turmeric and black salt and mix well.
Heat some oil in a wok or deep skillet until hot enough for frying. Dip each onion ring in the batter and fry until crisp.
You may fry 3 or 4 or more rings at a time, depending on the size of the wok or skillet. It is important not to have the rings touch each other while cooking.
Remove rings from the oil and drain on paper towels before serving.
More about Rinku:
Rinku Bhattacharya is a passionate home cook and the author of the cookbook, The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles. Rinku blogs at Cooking in Westchester, a food blog that recipes that offer a sustainable approach to Indian cooking and her perspectives on celebrating the seasons with two kids, a cat and a gardener husband in tow. Rinku also teaches custom Indian Home Cooking Classes.
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