Homemade Potato Bhajia.

Potato Bhajia are a favorite snack in Kenya. Thinly sliced potatoes dipped in a spicy gram flour batter then deep fried till a bit crispy and golden ; Total potato perfection!

If you’ve lived in Nairobi, visiting the food court at Diamond Plaza is a must to sample the world famous “Maru Bhajia” from the stall by the same name. That is the only place whose bhajia I have faith in.

I am sure many of us who love their bhajias have tried to replicate it at home but can never quite get the exact taste. 😂

Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try though right?

Let us get started.

Our ingredients are:-

  • 1 kg white potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • Oil to deep fry them in.
  • 1/4 tsp ground tumeric.
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder.
  • 1 tsp paprika.
  • Juice of 1 lemon.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • 1/2 cup of besan (chickpea aka gram or garam flour).
  • 1 heaped tablespoon rice flour
  • 1 bunch of finely chopped coriander.
  • A pinch of fenugreek leaves – optional.
  • small pinch of baking soda.

Method.

Peel, clean and slice your potatoes into thin rounds.

Soak them in salty waters for 15 minutes then drain.

In a a large bowl, add the potato slices, all the ground spices and herbs except the baking soda.

Add the flours and mix well.

Let the mixture stand for about 15 minutes, please do not add any water.

The potatoes will release their own water and the slices will get enough batter all round.

Heat your oil.

Add the baking soda just before frying. I got this tip from Fauzia’s Kitchen Fun blog.

Deep fry the potato slices on medium heat until cooked through, and turn golden.

To avoid them clumping together, add the slices to the oil individually.

Once ready, drain on kitchen towel to remove extra grease then serve with ketchup, chutney or chilli sauce.

They are a great snack to make as well as a fun weekend dinner with some roasted chicken or grilled meat and salads on the side.

They are crispy but fluffy inside, well cooked, well seasoned, delicious and you cannot get enough of them!

How do you like your potato bhajia?

Stewed Mung beans with Eggplant.

Mung bean, green gram, moong, pojo or as we call it in Swahili, ‘Ndengu’, is a legume that is rich in nutrients, easy to cook and versatile as it blends in well with many flavour bases. In an onion, tomato gravy, sautéed with greens, in coconut milk, as a filling for savory pancakes or vegetarian samosas, it holds its own quite well. They are mostly sold as dry cereals, but one can sprout them too for added health benefits.

I like it uncomplicated, just simmered in an onion, tomato sauce with a bit of curry powder; I will definitely have a second helping. Ndengu also goes well with starchy sides such as chapati, rice and even ugali.

This time round I opted to add in roasted then mashed eggplant, it thickens the sauce and also adds a hint of smokiness in the dish.

Our ingredients are:-

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 cups of already boiled legumes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tomatoes and 1 green pepper (capsicum) grated
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp dhania jeera powder
  • 1 heaped tsp Kenyan curry powder
  • 1 large eggplant, roasted over open flame then mashed. You can also broil it for 20-30 minutes in the oven then peel and mash.
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 cups water or stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric, or if you have whole, cut a small piece and crush with the ginger and garlic.

Method.

Heat your pan, add oil and the cumin seeds, once they release their aroma and begin sizzling in the oil, add your finely chopped onion. Mix well and let cook till it is soft and translucent.

Add the crushed ginger, garlic and turmeric paste and let cook off the raw smell, before adding in the spices.

Lower the heat and let the ground spices cook well for them to release their oil, aroma and flavour. You can add a tablespoon of water so they do not burn, then add the tomato paste.

This will be followed by your grated tomato and capsicum mix.

Cover and let them cook down till it’s a bit dry and the oil starts leaving the sides of the pan.

Add in your mashed eggplant and some seasoning.

Once the eggplant in mixed in well, add the boiled ndengu / mung beans. Mix well before adding in the water or stock.

Simmer for 20-25 minutes on low till the stew is well flavoured, thick and cooked well enough.

Check your seasoning, garnish then serve.

I used the green part of some leftover spring onion to garnish.

A bowl of this is quite filling for a light lunch, for a heartier meal, you can have it with rice, ugali or chapati on the side.

We had it with some soft and delicious carrot and spring onion chapati.

Colourful, healthy, filling, easy to make and oh so tasty! Give it a try and let me know how you liked it.

Love,

Wanjoro.

Chickpea pilaf.

This is a delicious and flavour full one pot meal that’s tasty, healthy and easy to make.

Chickpeas are rich in nutrients; a great source of protein which is perfect if you don’t want to use meat in the dish. The greens used here (amaranth and spinach) are also great sources of vitamins and protein too.

Colourful and tasty.

I like one pot rice meals such as this as they come together so fast and one can put in what’s available to make a tasty meal.

You will need:-

  • 1 cup of rinsed and drained chickpeas.
  • One large onion, chopped.
  • Two tbsp coconut oil. Or ghee.
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds and one bay leaf.
  • One cup soaked basmati rice.
  • Ginger garlic paste. A tbsp will do.
  • 2tsp ground good quality pilau masala.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Greens of choice ( I bunch will do, chopped).
  • Chopped coriander.
  • 2 cups water or stock.

Method.

  • Heat your pan and add your coconut oil as well as cumin seeds and bay leaf.
  • Once they start sputtering, add onions, cook until starting to brown then add the ginger garlic paste. Mix well. Before adding the pilau masala.
  • Next go in the coriander stalks and the chickpeas, as well as salt and pepper, followed by the chopped greens. I used a mix of amaranth leaves and spinach I had leftover from a previous meal.
  • Add the rice and mix well. Then in goes your stock. Cover and simmer till all the water is drained and rice is cooked through.

Serve with a salad of your choice.

I had mine with a simple tomato cucumber and onion salad.

Perfect for a light dinner, quick lunch and a hit with the kids.

What’s not to love about this beautiful meal?

Tasty French Beans Recipe.

French beans aka green beans aka haricot vert are usually had as side dishes, steamed or sautéed. Here is a simple recipe that enables them shine as a main vegetable dish.

Green beans are known as ‘miciri’ or ‘mishiri’ in my mother tongue and are usually chopped and added to a stew with meat (beef) carrot and potatoes.

I however prefer them a bit bigger in size and crunchy too, cooked through but with some bite to them.

They are rich in various vitamins, such as Vitamins K and C, also rich in folate, fiber, and calcium among other nutritional benefits.

They are also easily available and affordable in Kenya and Uganda. And are one of Kenya’s main horticultural export crops.

My son loves them. Whether as a saucy curry, sautéed with some butter, steamed or even roasted with some carrots there is no shortage of ways to get your family to have and love this vegetable.

Let’s get started.

Our ingredients are:-

1. French beans. (About 2 large fistfuls). Cleaned and sliced diagonally.

2. One large onion. Chopped.

3. Two large cloves of garlic. (Use local, it has better flavour).

4. 2 tablespoons cooking oil.

5. Salt and pepper to taste.

6. Spices used are 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds, a bit of turmeric, and 1 teaspoon of Kenyan curry powder.

7. Three tomatoes, chopped.

Method.

Heat your pan and add the oil and mustard seeds, then the onion.

Let the onion cook till a bit brown and add your minced garlic.

Add the ground spices and mix well till they release their flavours then add the tomatoes, and some salt.

Lower heat and cover. Let the tomatoes cook down into a mushy sauce.

Add your green beans and mix well.

Cover and cook on low for ten minutes. If you want them more tender cook for longer but not too long as they get chewy. Ten to twelve minutes are just right for me.

Check seasoning and serve hot. You can have it as a side or as a main vegetable dish. I had mine with some aromatic rice.

Easy peasy. Simple, tasty, colorful and filling.

Give it a try and have your French beans in a different way. You will not regret it.

Red Cabbage and Peas.

Purple/ red cabbage is a great vegetable to add to your meal plan. It is rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

You can have it raw in a salad. Like we did here. Or sautéed with green peas that’s a lovely side dish for your rice and kids’ lunchboxes.

This lovely vegetable dish has the following ingredients:-

Half a red cabbage, sliced, two grated carrots, one sliced green pepper, 1 chopped onion, 1 cup of green peas, 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste. Spices used are 1 tsp each of black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and Kenyan curry powder. Salt and pepper to taste.

Method.

Heat your wide based pan and add 2 tbsp of coconut oil. As well as the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Once they start sputtering, add the onion and let fry till translucent, before adding the crushed ginger garlic and mix well.
Add the curry powder and mix well, before adding the carrot and green pepper, salt and pepper. Let cook for about 3 minutes. Then add your cabbage. Mix well and let cook for another 3 minutes.
Add the peas and mix in well. Let cook till they are ready which is 5 or less minutes. Then switch off heat.
Squeeze some lemon juice and serve hot.

You can have the dish as it is for a light lunch. Or pair it up with rice or flaky chapati for a healthy vegetarian dinner meal.

It’s also perfect with some carrot rice. 😋

Healthy, tasty, colorful and filling. It will be a hit with you and the kids. Definitely worth a try.