Thursday, January 8, 2009

Menasinakaayi Bajji

This one is an all time fav of us Kannadigas. There's hardly a person who'd say no to these bisi-bisi(hot) meNasinakaayi(chilli pepper) bajjis(fritters). Be it cold & gloomy winter evenings, chilly & mushy rainy days or even hot & humid summer afternoons, any time is the right time for this snack. Over a cup of coffee, with khara manDakki(spiced puffed rice) along the side or all by itself, this snack rules.

Conversations flow easily around a plate of bajji. The hand and mouth move in rythmic practiced choreography, eyes constantly keep track of the dwindling number of bajjis on the plate, the brain calculating the best way to make the most of the opportunity without seeming greedy and all this, while small talk and sweet smile remains glued on to ones lips. :-) Each bite, between sips of coffee is oh! so heavenly. As the heat of the chillies hit the tongue, beads of perspiration form on the forehead and tip of the nose, the ears turn red as if shied by the much anticipated taste encounter...and pure bliss descends upon your whole being...and you are ready yet again for another bite of the same thrill...

I am NOT exaggerating. This is what really happens. Next time your friends drop in, make these and serve it up and observe...You'll get to see some remarkable aspects of human behavior. During my school days, we all cousins would gather at my uncle's place for summer hols, and he would get these fried snacks(bajjis, bondas, aambodes) for us in the evening, from his favorite vendor in Shimoga. He would sit back with his cup of coffee and let us dig in. One day, years later, long after our school days and summer hols etc., as I sat talking to my uncle, remembering those days, he reveled a small secret. He would always ask the vendor to pack one extra piece of snack. As we kids ate our share, there would be that one extra delicacy waiting to be picked up. He loved to watch our reactions then. Some feeling shy to go for it, others waiting to see who would finish their share first and pick it up etc.. Sounds interesting, isn't it??

There's no such vendor here... so, here's my recipe for Menasinakaayi bajji. Enjoy it!


1 cup Kadle hiTTu(besan/gram flour)
1/2 cup akki hiTTu(rice flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust as required)
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (adjust as required)
1/2 teaspoon Om kaaLu(Ajwain/Carom Seeds)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of Ingu(Hing/Asefoetida)
A pinch of Turmeric powder
2-3 teaspoons hot oil
6 Jalapeno peppers, washed and slit in half lengthwise, along with the stem
(If you find the jalapenos too spicy, discard the seeds. Or, you can use either green bell peppers cut into strips or banana peppers instead of jalapenos)
Oil for deep frying


1. In a wide bowl, mix all the ingrediens, except the peppers.
2. Add water, little at a time and mix to form a thick batter(like idli or pancake batter). Taste the batter and adjust the salt and spice levels as needed.
3. Heat oil in a kadai/deep wok. When hot, add a drop of the batter to check. If the batter sizzles and floats up to the surface then, the oil is ready.
4. Dip the peppers in the batter one at a time, so that it forms a thick coating and gently drop it into the batter. Repeat. You can fry up to 6 bajjis at a time.
5. When one side is golden, flip the bajjis and let the other side cook. Once done, take the bajjis out using a slotted spoon and let it drain on paper.
6. Finish up frying all the bajjis. Take care to maintain the temperature of the oil. If it is too hot, the batter gets burnt and the pepper will not get evenly cooked. If the oil is not hot enough, the bajjis will soak up a lot of oil.
7. Serve hot with ketchup, or chopped onions mixed with salt, lime juice and chaat masala.

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