Cut the fat from the traditional mirchi bhajiya (milagai bajji) and make a healthier, (still) delicious version of the ever popular Indian delicacy!
My dear Desi friends,
You are going to adore this recipe. I only stress on the desi friends bit because I’m not sure those of you with a lower threshold for spice will want to make + eat this goodie. Mirchi Bhajiya is an Indian favorite – something that is considered to be a perfect snack with tea on a cold, rainy day. Fiery hot, stuffed with a potato filling and deep fried to crispy perfection is how a traditional Mirchi Bhajiya is supposed to be.
You may want to check out my original post where I did the whole deep frying bit. That was wayyyyyy back in 2012. I was young. And thin. And had a metabolism of a horse. 😛 But now that I’m being a bit more conscious about the kind of foods I eat, I ensure to keep it as healthy as possible. If there is a healthier alternative, I definitely prefer that over deep frying. Which is why when my friends at Tupperware sent me their new Steam it, I couldn’t wait to try something innovative as opposed to just steaming veggies. Just you wait. You’re going to want to scroll down to see how brilliant this steamer is and how you can use it in so may ways!
Coming to the recipe, I’ll just start by saying this – I usually don’t make extra efforts when it comes to cooking. I like to spend minimum time in the kitchen and maximize the pleasures of eating awesome food! However, it is crucial that you do follow the recipe as closely as you can when it comes to this low fat mirchi bhajiya. If you plan ahead, you can make these in 30 minutes or less. For example, you make the filling and prep the jalapeno ahead of time. All you gotta do before eating is – steam + shallow fry. And that hardly takes any time! You can also choose to NOT stuff the peppers with filling – in which case you save even more time. But for the purpose of retaining as much taste as possible from the original version, I’m going to suggest you do make all the elements of this recipe.
Because of its unique method of preparation, you might not be able to get the EXACT same thing that you would if you were to deep fry them. But these mirchi bhajiyas are as close to what you get in restaurants. Some of the must-visit restaurants for authentic south Indian cuisine specialize in awesome bhajiyas (they call it bajji). If you are looking for such a recipe without the guilt of deep frying, then this is definitely something you should consider.
Low-fat Mirchi Bhajiya – printable recipe
- ½ cup cooked & mashed Potatoes
- ½ cup Oatmeal (either grind yourself or use instant oatmeal)
- ¼ cup Cilantro / Coriander leaves
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Salt (adjust to your taste)
- ½ teaspoon Haldi (turmeric powder)
- ½ teaspoon Asefetida (hing)
- ½ of a Lemon
- 1 teaspoon Oil
- 1 cup Besan (Chickpea or Gram Flour)
- 1 Tablespoon Rice flour or cornflour (optional - makes the bhajiyas crispy)
- ½ teaspoon Salt (adjust to your taste)
- ½ teaspoon Asafetida (hing)
- ½ teaspoon Haldi (turmeric powder)
- a pinch of Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Chilli powder (skip if you want less spicy)
- Water - enough to make a thick cake like batter
- 10-12 fresh Jalapeno peppers (Bhavnagari mirch) - washed & dried
- Steamer / Cooker
- 1-2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (preferably Rice Bran Oil)
- You can make the stuffing even healthier by eliminating potatoes & adding cooked sprouts or quinoa instead. If you're not into Oats, you can make an all potato filling too. Just use what you have on hand!
- Cook the potatoes and mash them well. Grind oats to a fine powder. In a mixer, add garlic & coriander / cilantro and grind to a coarse paste. Else, chop them finely to release their juices.
- Heat oil on a pan and add the garlic-cilantro mixture.
- Add potatoes, oatmeal and other ingredients together. Mix well.
- Taste and adjust for seasoning. Set aside until use.
- Option 1 - Cut the jalapeno in half completely. You will have 2 halves. Remove seeds and fill with a little bit of prepared stuffing all over the halves.
- Option 2 - Start from the top and cut the jalapeno til the bottom on 2 opposite sides. But do not cut all the way through - just ¾th. Remove the seeds and stuff the filling as much as you want. Then close the slit to form a whole jalapeno
- You can do either of the two, depending on which is easier for you.
- Mix together all the dry ingredients. Slowly start adding water and mixing. Keep mixing till you have a thick, cake- like batter. Taste and adjust for seasoning as you like.
- Dip lightly in the batter and place on a steamer. You can dip both sides or even just one side. Steam for 7-12 minutes or until the batter is cooked. Let it cool for a minute & remove on a plate. Because the peppers are not deep fried after dipping in loose batter, the batter will spread out while steaming. As soon as they are steamed, you can cut off the excess batter.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil on a pan and add the steamed bhajiyas. Fry on each side for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove on a tissue paper. Serve hot with condiment of your choice.
- You can dip them in the batter and deep fry if you want a quicker and easier way. But that loses its healthy quality
- If using a steamer, line it with banana leaf or anything else. The batter will stick to the steamer otherwise.
- It wont look exactly like traditional mirchi bhajiya. This is a little more rustic and homey.
Low-fat Mirchi Bhajiya – step by step recipe
To make the filling, add cilantro & garlic to a blender and blend to a coarse paste. Else, you can chop them finely.
Add that paste, turmeric powder, asafetida, salt and oatmeal to some mashed potatoes and mix well. Taste and adjust for seasoning as desired.
Wash and dry the jalapeno. You can use red / green / mix of both.
You can prep the jalapeno in 2 ways – first way is to slit in half completely. Remove the seeds. Stuff with the filling and set aside.
Another way – slit from top to bottom – but don’t slit all the way through. Remove seeds, stuff with filling and close the slit to reform the chilli.
You can do whichever is easy for you. I do like the slit in half version since I feel they crisp up better.
To make the batter, mix together the gram flour, chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt, rice flour and a pinch of baking soda. Add water and form a thick cake-like batter, free of lumps.
At this point, you can CHOOSE TO DEEP FRY if you want. Else. Get a steamer ready. (you can do this in a cooker as well)
Dip the prepared mirchi (jalapeno) into the batter and shake off excess batter. Or if you want the batter to be on one side only, you can also take a bit on a spoon and apply over the filling.
Place the mirchi on the steamer (it is advisable to get a banana leaf or parchment paper or foil below to avoid sticking). Close the lid and steam for 7-10 minutes. Depending upon your steamer, the time may vary. You are just looking for the batter to be cooked through. Don’t worry if the batter starts to drip and leave the chilli. It is bound to happen.
Once it is steamed & cooked, let it cool a bit & take it out. Because we haven’t deep fried, the loose batter will ooze out of the chilli and form a deformed shape. But you can just cut out the excess from the sides.
You can enjoy the steamed jalapeno as is – if you like it that way. But a mirchi bhajiya has to have some crunch! 🙂 Hence, I got out a pan, heat up a couple tablespoons of healthy rice bran oil and added the steamed jalapeno in. I let them cook on each side for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. If the covering comes off a bit, that is OKAY.. It will still taste as good as a traditional fritter.
Drain off on a tissue briefly and serve hot with any condiment you like! This is something that will be a great addition to any south Indian menu.