The Watercress File

For the past couple of weeks it’s been all about watercress, what with the soup trials going on in my kitchen to find a winning combination for the World Watercress Soup Championship and now this weekend making Watercress and Onion Bhaji with fresh Watercress Coconut Chutney. I feel happily brain washed by the watercress campaign as I add this last recipe to my collection and close the file.

Onion bhaji is fast food to relish; street food for hungry people or at least that’s how communities in India eat this spicy snack. How appropriate that Sophie Grigson chose to show us how to cook a variation of it on the streets of Alresford at the Watercress Festival last week, accompanied by Watercress Coconut Chutney. Luckily I was near the front of the audience and got to sample a forkful of each as they were passed round. Hmm … extremely delicious and very nice experience sharing food; a few people got excited and suddenly chatty as the walls came down on our great British reserve for a few moments.

Watercress and Onion Bhaji

Take: 40g watercress roughly chopped, 1 large onion sliced thinly, 1 small potato grated, 30g green lentils, 75g gram flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground turmeric, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp cumin seeds, one and a half tbsp chopped coriander, 20g flaked almonds, oil for shallow frying.

Soak lentils 4 hours, or open a tin. Spread onion in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 30 mins. Absorb moisture with kitchen towel. Mix and sift dry ingredients over a bowl, add watercress, fresh coriander, almonds, potato, onion and lentils.

Get stuck in with both hands and mix it all up until the ingredients are well combined. Make several patties (about 1 tbsp in size) and shallow fry in batches in hot oil, turning half way through cooking time until brown and crispy on both sides. Drain on kitchen towel and serve with Watercress Coconut Chutney.

Take: 120g desiccated coconut, bunch of watercress, handful of mint leaves, 3 green chillies, chopped and de-seeded, 4 garlic cloves, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp sugar, juice of 1-2 limes, salt

Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor to a puree, add a little water if necessary, season to taste. Add a large helping to a plate of bhajis and enjoy the fusion of local and far away exotic flavours. Very moreish!