Onion Okra Bhaji with Hot Sauce Mango Chutney
Ever since the mid-1800s, with the arrival of indentured labourers, there has been a heavy Indian influence on Trinidadian cuisine. So, during my visit to the island, I re-created a popular Indian snack with a Caribbean twist. This simple-to-make sweet and spicy chutney is the perfect dip for these light and spicy bhaji.
First, make the chutney. Place the mango chutney in a bowl, add the hot pepper sauce and stir to combine. Add the spring onions and fresh herbs and mix together. Set aside.
Fill a large deep heavy-based saucepan with vegetable oil to a depth of 2½cm and set over a medium–high heat.
While the oil is heating, in a pestle and mortar, lightly bash the sliced onions and red pepper for 4–5 minutes, so that they release their juices, then tip into a large bowl and add the okra. Sprinkle over the gram flour so that the vegetables are lightly coated, then add the baking powder, chilli flakes, ground cumin, allspice and salt and pepper. Using your hands, massage the ingredients together so that the flour and spices combine with the juices from the vegetables. Add a splash of water, if needed, but make sure that the coating isn’t too wet.
Test the oil is hot enough for deep-frying by dropping in a small piece of bread: it should sizzle and brown in 40–50 seconds. When ready, pinch small handfuls of the bhaji mixture, form loosely into spiky balls and use a slotted spoon to carefully lower them into the hot oil. Cook for 3–4 minutes, turning once or twice until crisp and golden in colour. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on kitchen paper.
Serve with the Hot Sauce Mango Chutney.
TIP: When de-seeding the okra, use a teaspoon to easily scrape out the seeds.
- 3 white onions, trimmed and finely sliced
- 1 red pepper, de-seeded and finely sliced
- 8–10 okra, washed, trimmed, de-seeded (see tip) and finely sliced on an angle
- 50–75g gram (chickpea) flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- a pinch each of salt and pepper
- vegetable oil, for frying
- For the Hot Sauce Mango Chutney
- 4 tbsp mango chutney
- 2 tsp Hot Pepper Sauce
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- a small handful of coriander, finely chopped