Chilli bites (bhajia, dhaltjies) much like Pakoras are fried droplets made from a spicy blend of gram flour, coriander, shallots, fresh chillies, chilli powder and cumin. Unlike Pakoras which are created by taking one or two ingredients such as onion or potato and dipping them in a batter of gram flour, the South African chilli bites consist of finely chopped onions, coriander and shallots combined with gram flour and spices. The result is a fuller, round appearance. Chilli bites are sometimes prepared using self raising flour (flour with added baking powder) but is best made using gram flour (chana flour). There are several variants, plain chilli bites or ones with a potato filling.
Chilli bites often featured in Amma’s diwali parcels, as one of her contingency lunches or as my father’s ‘bites’. Amma’s chilli bites sometimes included finely chopped lettuce to accompany limited coriander. Like most fried foods Amma prefered using bicarbonate of soda rather than baking powder – to avoid what she called ‘oil soaked’ chilli bites. This recipe is a basic chilli bites recipe – ideal as a savoury snack or a light meal.
Recipe by Georgia
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Yield: 25 medium sized chilli bites
- 3 cups gram flour
- half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1,5 cups water
- half cup finely chopped coriander
- 3 fresh green chillies chopped fine
- 1 whole onion chopped fine
- half cup shallots
- 2 teaspoons roasted cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon vegetable masala or chilli powder of choice
- 1 teaspoon garamasala
- 1 teaspoon salt
- oil for frying
1. Wash and prepare the coriander, onions and shallots. Slice fine.
2. Prepare the dry ingredients. Place the gram flour in a bowl. Add bicarbonate of soda , powder spices, roasted cumin seeds and salt. Combine.
3. Add finely chopped coriander chillies and shallots. Add water. Mix to form a cake like batter.
4. Place a heavy based pan on the stove to heat the oil. Once the oil is warm add a tablespoon of batter into the oil. Fry for 3-5 minutes on each side before turning the chilli bites. Take care when frying. Keep the stove on medium heat to avoid burning the chilli bites.
5. Remove from oil. Drain on paper towels.
6. Serve warm with chutney and your favorite drink or a cup of tea.