Kenyan bhajia
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Kenyan Bhajia

My gluten free and vegan Kenyan bhajia are crispy and delicious. A common street food that you can now enjoy in your own kitchen.

I grew up in Kenya and we would have these Kenyan bhajia all the time. There was a place that would sell them and as teenagers, we would go there and get them when we went on a weekend outing. The restaurant served them in a brown bag with tomato chutney served right on it. I personally prefer to have the chutney on the side, but we just loved the pakora. I am sure once you try them, you will be in love too.

Ingredients for Kenyan Bhajia

Baking potatoes, some spices, some fresh herbs, and some chickpea flour is all that’s needed for this amazing snack.

Ingredients for bhajia

Ingredients List for Kenyan Bhajia:

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 inch ginger – grated
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • oil for frying

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The Potatoes

Let’s start with preparing the potatoes. I generally don’t peel them. Wash them well enough and the peel can stay on. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the potatoes into 2-3 millimeter thin slices. Put them in a bowl of cold water and let them sit there until you are ready to fry. This helps get rid of the starch and helps the potatoes cook faster and stay crisp.

Potatoes for bhajia

The Chickpea Flour Batter

Next, we can work on the chickpea flour batter. This is a simple batter to make. Let’s get started:

  • Peel one large garlic clove and mash it into a pulp. If your garlic is small, then you can use more than one.
  • Grate about a 1 inch piece of ginger.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the chickpea flour, the corn starch, the garam masala, the cumin powder, the turmeric, salt to taste, and the red chili powder if using.
  • Mix everything together and add the garlic, ginger, and chili as well. Mix them well into the flour.
  • Add the water to the bowl and make it into a batter. It should be thick enough to coat the potatoes.
Batter for bhajia

Frying the Kenyan Bhajia

Once the batter is ready, we can start to fry them. Heat the oil to about 320 degrees F (approximately 160 degrees C). I use a regular pan or pot. I don’t have a frier and so I heat the oil in a pan.

While the oil is heating, drain the water from the bowl, and using a clean tea towel, pat dry the potatoes completely. Dip them into the batter one at a time and gently drop them into the hot oil. Allow them to cook on one side for about 3-4 minutes then flip them over and allow them to cook on the other side for about 3-4 minutes. Remember to now over crowd the oil or it cools down and then the bhajia absorb a lot of oil.

Fried bhajia

While the bhajia are frying, line a baking tray with paper towel and place a cookie rack on it. Once you remove the bhajia from the oil, place them on the cookie rack. That helps them stay crisp. Continue to fry until you are done frying all of them.

Serving Suggestions for Kenyan Bhajia:

I love to serve this with:

  • tamarind chutney. I find the sweet and sour flavour of the tamarind chutney goes really well with the savoury flavour of the bhajia.
  • serve it with a homemade tomato chutney Kenyan style – it’s similar to salsa. Fresh tomatoes, some green chili, some onion, and some white vinegar. Use a chopper to make a chutney.
  • my favourite way of enjoying them is with my mango and coriander chutney.
Kenyan bhajia

Variations:

I love this chickpea flour batter. I use it to make so many types of bhajia:

  • Try making cauliflower bhajia. Chop the cauliflower into small bite size pieces and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Dip in the batter and fry.
  • I love making this with eggplant. Slice the eggplant into thin slices and sprinkle some salt on it. Allow it to sit for a bit so the liquid drains from the eggplant. Then pat dry, dip in the chickpea flour batter, and fry.

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Kenyan Bhajia

Course: SnackCuisine: Kenyan, East AfricanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes
Calories

163

kcal
Total time

25

minutes

My gluten free and vegan Kenyan bhajia are crispy and delicious. A common street food that you can now enjoy in your own kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 2 large baking potatoes

  • 1 cup chickpea flour

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1 inch ginger – grated

  • 1 large garlic clove

  • 1 jalapeno

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)

  • 3/4 cup cold water

  • oil for frying

Directions

  • Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the potatoes into 2-3 millimeter thin slices. Put them in a bowl of cold water and let them sit there until you are ready to fry.
  • Peel one large garlic clove and mash it into a pulp. If your garlic is small, then you can use more than one.
  • Grate about a 1 inch piece of ginger.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the chickpea flour, the corn starch, the garam masala, the cumin powder, the turmeric, salt to taste, and the red chili powder if using.
  • Mix everything together and add the garlic, ginger, and chili as well. Mix them into the flour as well.
  • Add the water to the bowl and make it into a batter. It should be thick enough to coat the potatoes.
  • Heat the oil to 320 degrees F (approximately 160 degrees C).
  • While the oil is heating, drain the water from the bowl, and using a clean tea towel, pat dry the potatoes completely.
  • Dip them into the batter one at a time and gently drop them into the hot oil.
  • Allow them to cook on one side for about 3-4 minutes then flip them over and allow them to cook on the other side for about 3-4 minutes. Remember to now over crowd the oil or it cools down and then the bhajia absorb a lot of oil.
  • Line a baking tray with paper towel and place a cookie rack on it. Once you remove the bhajia from the oil, place them on the cookie rack.
  • Enjoy hot with a variety of chutneys.
Nutrition for bhajia

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