The red vined Malabar spinach (kodi pasalai) grew as an ornamental arch at my parents’ place. As children, we used the leaves to pretend play spinach and hated it when mum cooked it. The slightly slimy texture of the Malabar spinach was the reason for the spurn. Once mum did the deep-fried, Malabar spinach fritters with it, we self-invited ourselves to tea and brought in all the kids from the neighbourhood as well. The bajjis kept coming from mums kitchen and so did the non-stop giggling to match the monsoon rains from us.
Though a very distant relative of the regular spinach. Malabar spinach or vine spinach leaves are fleshier and heartshaped and thicker than spinach. The kodi pasalai is a favoured green to add to many South Indian recipes as the plant survives the harsh summer easily. Slightly slimy when cut, the leaves and the tender stems are the ones that are used. The malabar spinach tastes well in curries like the ones we have on our blog.
Kodi pasalai is easy to grow from stem cuttings from the Asian grocer I was very amazed when my batch grew back from the seeds we had placed in the pots from the last year’s stem cutting growth. Good potting soil and a way that the vine can climb up is what you need to set up. Good watering produces thinner softer leaves throughout ut summer to autumn. The plant dies under frost, but the seeds grow back next season, so save purple-black seeds. So today’s monsoon themed recipe is with the homegrown Malabar spinach (basale).
Instant bajji batter mix
Someone rightfully said that the moment rains start in India, the veggies toll themselves in the batter and jump into the hot oil to become tasty pakodas!! Since bajjs, bondas and pakodas are the favourites for rains I had no look back to making some Malabar spinach fritters when Shobhaji (check her moringa soup recipe) called in for monsoon recipes.
The pitter-patter rains certainly call for share bajji platters with coconut chutney and garam chai. Since bajjis happen more often through this rainy weather keep some of this instant mix ready to use. Check out the quick video link above for one of the most useful pantry ingredients.
Kodi pasalai bajji
- frying pan
For the batter
- 2 cups malabar spinach leaves and tender stem.
- 1 cup instant bajji mix
- 1 cup water ( use a little at a time as the leaves leave a lot of water)
- 2 cups cooking oil
For the batter
- Finely chop the cleaned leaves and stem of the malabar spinach.
- Add this to a mixing bowl.
- Add a cup of the instant bajji batter mix and mix both together.
- Let this mix sit for 5 minutes so that the salt can release the water from the spinach leaves.
- Mix the batter gently and add a tablespoon of water at a time to make a batter with a thick dropping consistency.
- Set this aside till the oil heats up.
For fry the bajjis
- Heat the cooking oil in a khadai or frying pan.
- When the oil is warm test the oil by dropping a tiny amount of the batter. If it instantly sizzles the oil is ready.
- Drop in the batter, a tbsp at a time in the hot oil.
- You will be able to drop multiple ones in the oil at a time.
- Move the bajjis arouns in the oil and flip them over so they become golden brown.
- Drain from the oil on to an absorbent paper.
- Serve the bajjis hot with chutney and chai.
Preethi, my partner for the challenge offered Rice flour and asafoetida as the ingredients. The winter rain was on as a coincidence so win-win!! A handful of the backyard pasalai leaves with the instant bhaji mix to test and we have an easy tasty tea snack ready. Preethi’s blog is a perfect hideout of Singapore inspired recipes and neem flower recipes. Don’t miss to check it out the nutrition-rich horsegram and peanut soup that she has made for this partnership.
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See you at the next post.