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.

Eggplant Thursday: Borani Banjan

Borani Banjan is a traditional Afghan recipe that has eggplants layered in a tomato sauce and topped with a garlic yoghurt sauce and dried mint. It is so simple to make but the flavours are complex and blend so wonderfully together to make what has become one of my top favorite ways to make eggplant. It is SO good, if you love eggplant as much as I do, you have to make it.

I have shared this dish before here, but felt that it. deserves its own post. Share the goodness right?

I like the recipe from Mazar Cuisine and it is always the one I use when making this dish, though I sometimes roast the eggplant in the oven instead of frying.

Our ingredients are:-

  • 4 purple eggplants, thickly sliced and soaked in salty water to remove bitterness.
  • 4 sliced tomatoes.
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of tomato paste.
  • Spices: 1 teaspoon each of paprika, ground coriander, ground turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of ground red chilli.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 4 minced garlic cloves. (I used local garlic that has stronger flavour than imported one).
  • 1 level tbsp of dried mint.
  • I cup natural yoghurt.
  • Cooking oil.
After soaking the eggplant in salted water, rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Toss with olive oil and roast in a 180°C oven for 20 – 25 minutes.
As the eggplant roasts you can get started on the tomato sauce.
In a heated saucepan, add 2 tbsp of cooking oil, and add half the minced garlic.
Once it releases its aroma, add the ground spices, the turmeric, paprika, chilli and coriander and mix well. Let the spices cook a while before adding the tomato paste and mix well. ( I added a green pepper I had on hand though its not included in the original recipe).
Add your sliced tomatoes and some salt, lower heat and cover. Let it cook till the tomatoes break down completely.
Meanwhile, add the yoghurt to a bowl, the rest of the minced garlic, the dried mint and some salt and pepper.
Mix well and set aside (I put mine in the fridge as it was a hot day, but if its cool you can leave it out on the counter till ready to use).
The tomatoes will have broken down completely into a lovely red rich and thick sauce.
Add the roasted eggplant to the tomato sauce and mix gently. If too dry you can add a splash of water. Cover and simmer for about 8-10 minutes for the eggplant to absorb the flavour and the sauce. Remember to check your seasoning too.
The eggplant really holds its shape well and is full of flavour with a bit of heat but not too much.
To serve, plate the eggplant then add the garlic yoghurt on top. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and a bit of dried mint.
This might just become my favorite eggplant recipe!
I had mine with a simple flatbread made with self raising flour, yoghurt and some herbs.

The best way to have this is with a decent flatbread that is great for scooping up the sauce and balances out the flavours too.

This is a must try dish!

Cheesy Zucchini Sweetcorn Muffins.

This is an easy recipe and a staple in many homes with kids, as it is a great lunchbox option as a snack, a light lunch with a salad or soup on the side and because they keep so well, are a great option for those long road trips!

There are many ways to make this, this is how I do it. The best thing about savoury muffins is there is no limit to what you can put in; it is all about what you like.

Our ingredients are:-

  • 2 cups self raising flour.
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small grated zucchini aka courgette.
  • 1/2 cup of sweetcorn
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted.
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • A pinch of mixed spice (optional)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • A pinch of salt

Another thing I love with this recipe is it is a one bowl one, so less dishes. Quick, fast and easy to make.

Method.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Line your 12 hole muffin pan with muffin cases.

Sift your flour in a large bowl, add the other ingredients and mix well.

Mix well but do not over mix and spoon into muffin cases.

Bake for 18- 20 minutes until golden and baked through, check with a skewer.

Enjoy them after letting cool for 15 minutes or so.

They are great on their own or with some soup on the side. Either way, you have to try them out. Tasty, filling and so easy the kids can make them themselves (with supervision of course).

Love,

Wanjoro.

Eggplant Thursday: Chana Dal and Aubergine recipe.

This is a tasty dish that works well for a weeknight dinner or lunchbox meal for the kids.

You will need;

  • Chana dal (already boiled with whole spices, I used cloves, cinnamon, turmeric and bay leaf).
  • 1 onion, sliced.
  • 1 tsp of mustard seeds.
  • Some garlic ginger paste, and some crushed coriander seeds.
  • 1 teaspoon dhania jeera powder.
  • 2 grated tomatoes.
  • 1 green capsicum, chopped.
  • I egg plant, chopped.
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped.
  • 1 tsp garam masala.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Coriander leaves and some fresh squeezed lemon for garnish.

Method.

Boil your chana dal with the whole spices until cooked but not mushy, set aside.

Heat oil in a large pan, add your mustard seeds, let pop then add the onions.

Once onions are soft, add the ginger garlic paste.

Add the eggplant then a bit of ground turmeric and the dhania jeera powder and mix well.

After cooking a few minutes add the grated tomatoes plus some salt. Let cook a while before adding the potatoes.

Once tomatoes are fully cooked, add some water about two cups and let simmer till potatoes are done.

Lastly, add the already boiled chana dal and the garam masala. Mix well and let the legumes heat through and get the flavour.

Check seasoning, add garnish and remove from heat.

Serve with chapati or rice.

I had mine with some tasty carrot and dhania chapati.

For the chapati, I kneaded the flour with the usual hot water and salt, as well as one grated carrot and 2 tbsp of chopped coriander leaves and a pinch of ground cumin that added a unique flavour to the flat bread.

They are so delicious and flaky you can have them on their own too or use them for a Ugandan Rolex, who’s recipe I have already shared here.

Try this stew and let me know what you think.

Love,

Wanjoro.