Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Turmeric and Coriander and Cumin, Oh My!

Last night I attempted to introduce my cat, Skrabble, to my friend Brett's cat, Lily, in a hope that they would become the best of friends and have an outrageously adorable play date. This didn't occur. They generally just growled at each other and avoided each other for the majority of the evening, punctuated with the occasional screaming encounter.

You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with food? Be patient, all will be revealed to you at the proper time. Lucky for you, that time is now. While over at Brett's place for kitty party (aka kitty growl-fest) I made a curry and onion bahjis for us for dinner. I decided to use this as inspiration for this week's Salad Challenge. The onion bhajis got me thinking about these battered fried onion bits that they put on the veggie burgers over at Darcy McGee's, a chain of pubs in the Ottawa area. Not only are these the best veggie burgers I've ever had, but atop their already fantastic burger, they put a grilled portobello cap and onions that have been battered in a curry-spiced batter, then deep fried. SO GOOD. Seriously, if you're in Ottawa you HAVE to go to one of these pubs and get their veggie burger. They also have some very good beer on tap - I recommend Erdinger.

Ok, I'm getting off topic again. The point is, I was thinking to myself that these crispy onions would make a super tasty salad topping. And so the idea for Bahji salad was born! These crispy fried onions would be an excellent topping for salads of all kinds, veggie burgers, sandwiches, portobello or tofu steaks. They're basically just delicious.

Crispy Bahji Bits

1 onion, cut in half, then thinly sliced
1 tbsp water
2 tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp chickpea flour
1/2 tsp each turmeric, coriander, cumin and chili powder
cayenne pepper to taste
olive oil

Mix cornstarch and water together. Add onions and toss to coat. In a tupperware container mix chickpea flour and spices. Add the onions to the container, put the lid on, and shake to coat.

Heat about a half centimeter of oil in a pan or pot over medium heat (I like pots cause they contain the oil splatter better). Put in only as many onions as the pot/pan will hold in a single layer. Fry until onions are crispy, turning once so that both sides are browned. Remove with slotted spoon and place on paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Bahji's are often served with Cucumber Raita for dipping. Raita is usually made with yogurt, but I replaced yogurt with soft silken tofu, and it turned out pretty well, but I think it still needs improvement. I used the raita I made as a salad dressing, and constructed my salad with baby spinach, grated carrot, sliced cucumber, raita, and of course, topped it all with a generous helping of bahji bits!
I rounded out dinner tonight with this Rice & Lentil Pilaf which was SO delicious (I used kale in place of dandelion greens), and Sweet Potato Falafel from my favourite vegan food blog, FatFree Vegan Kitchen. Also, totally delish. All in all, this was a kickass meal, even if I do say so myself!
Salad Challenge Countdown
Salads made: 13 Salads left: 39


  1. What can you replace the cornstarch with if you are allergic to corn?

    1. Tapioca starch is a good corn starch substitute.

    2. And flour too. Both are thickening or breading agents. Most types of flours would work.