Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My very first risotto, oooh!

I just got into the wild world of risotto, after having one of the tastiest dishes of my life on my honeymoon. I've heard so many horror stories from everybody about making this stuff, but it hasn't deterred me at all. If I can even come halfway to making something that good, I'll be a happy guy. I had bought some bags of arborio rice a few weeks ago with the notion of doing it eventually, but after getting some new cookware for a belated wedding gift and realizing that I have $5 worth of heirloom tomatoes in the fridge that need to be eaten this week, I figured I'd give it a try.

The chicken thigh on top was nothing to write home about, and honestly I wish I didn't even cook it. The pan-fried garlic cloves, however, were mega good!

I pan-fried a diced tomato in clarified butter, and added the arborio, letting it cook and get oily. Then I added pinot grigio and let that reduce at a higher temp, then brought it back down to a simmer, and slowly added the better part of 1 1/4 quarts of chicken stock. I used about a quarter of three different heirloom tomatoes to get that silly multi-color effect thing, and added fresh basil from my garden. That was topped with sea salt, cracked pepper, and grüyere cheese.

I don't know what all the fuss is about with this, it was pretty easy to make. I think mine was just a shade below al dente when all was said and done, but that was because I ran out of stock. It maybe needed another ladle and it would've been there.

At any rate, I am stoked to make more of this, and am eager to hear your suggestions. I figure getting a risotto cookbook from my mom and hearing a food podcast for risotto come up today was a sign, because I've really got it on the brain right now.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another ad hoc meal!

My wife put her foot down and said that she didn't want to eat any more Indian food. Oh the despair! Of course, I then come home to find her eating one of my fridge portions of palak paneer that I had made the other day, which she then decided she didn't want to eat anymore, and gave it back to me. Thanks sweety!

She then told me that she wanted me to fix her something. Well, I'll never tell my lady no, so the answer was naturally "What do you want?" She's infamous for being cryptic or indecisive sometimes, so she just says "Something with a chicken thigh, and mushrooms (we're trying to use them up before they get old), and don't make it too fancy!"

I'm not exactly sure what her definition of too fancy is, but remembering the magic I worked with my sister last week, I tried to improve on it a little:

This is what I came up with. Basically, I oiled my cast iron skillet just a tiny bit and put some water on in a small pot for penne pasta. Put a chicken thigh, 2 cloves of crushed and minced garlic, and two heaping handfuls of portabella mushroom slices into the very hot pan and let them get crispy and aromatic. I then poured chicken slowly into the hot pan, and deglazed with it as the chicken continued to cook. To that, I added ample oregano, basil, and cracked peppercorns, then plucked the penne from the heat when it was about half cooked. I drew the chicken from the pan, then added the half-cooked penne and a few tablespoons of cream and let both the penne & mushrooms cook and the sauce reduce. Once we were at a semi-thick state, I skimmed the pasta and mushrooms onto a plate, rested the chicken atop that, and poured on the cream sauce. The chicken was topped with shaved Manchego goat cheese, and a sprig of fresh oregano for garnish.

So it was fancy, so what? Two out of three objectives completed. I didn't hear any complaining about fancy eats by the way, so I will take that to heart!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gajjar Ka Halwa, the best carrot-based dessert ever.

I rarely ever make desserts. I'm not very good at baking, and that limits my options sometimes. There are, however, a few things that I get a huge craving for at times, and one of those things is gajjar ka halwa, which is an Indian carrot pudding.

Use this stuff:

1 pound carrots
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp ghee (not pictured)
1 tsp vanilla extract (not pictured)
1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
1 tbsp chopped almonds
1 tbsp chopped walnuts
Dried fruit (optional)

Grate up your carrots, and get the water up to a quick boil. Combine all that and let it cook for about five minutes on high heat.

Add milk, bring down to medium-low, and cook for about an hour to let the liquid reduce and the carrots to soak up a bunch of milk. Add sugar and stir. Keep cooking until the consistency evens out and the liquid becomes syrupy:

Add your ghee and cardamoms and keep on a simmer for another five minutes to distribute the cardamom flavor. Take it off the heat, put the vanilla in, stir thoroughly, and put into a dish:

Add your nuts and/or fruit on top. I've got some strawberries in the dehydrator that'll go with this in the morning. The serving size is pretty small, this stuff is incredibly sweet. You'll never go back to carrot cake after you try it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pepperocalypse, continued

When I last left you guys, I had put a haul of peppers into my dehydrator and was getting ready for a long haul. Turns out that it was a relatively short haul. It took less than a day to get the desired effect, which was a plate full of crisp, awesome peppers!

I took the cow-horn peppers and tucked those away for a rare treat, when I get in the mood for a good curry and want to crank up the heat. The jalapenos went to a little experiment:

Pepper oil! How novel! Oil that is hot, to put on things to make them hot! Liquid heat, even!

I tasted it, but much to my chagrin, it was not hot. HOW DO I MAKE THE HOTNESS???

Fortunately, my buddy Dino at Alternative Vegan once again saved my day, after a bit of laughter at my predicament. His answer was to cook the peppers and oil on medium-low heat for a bit, to release the capsaicin (aka, the heat) in the dried peppers. After a bit of emptying and cooking, I returned the oil and peppers to the bottle, and voila!

It's hot without taking the paint off the walls, and its AWESOME with a little paisano bread, for a bit of an unusual taste. This is totally rad stuff and you should make some.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Pepperocalypse has Begun!

My wife bought me a food dehydrator, and of course I raided a bunch of phat loot from my grandpa's produce pile the other day. I can't resist the temptation to dry some of this stuff, so I started with peppers today. I had a bunch of red & green jalapenos and a few red and green cowhorn chilis too. I blanched them all, then sliced and de-seeded the jalapenos in preparation for the dehydrator:

Gotta move the trays around every six hours or so for the next two days, but once that's done I should hopefully have some awesome dried peppers that I can crumble into food or put into olive oil for a spicy kick.

I keep going into the kitchen to steal a glance, hoping to see a little bit of shrively action happening. Can't wait! Stay tuned to see how these babies turn out!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My sister is special

Had a bit of a fun day today full of chores and errands and odds and ends that accompany me taking the early shift in to work and skipping out with plenty of time in the day. This inevitably led me back to my parents' house, where I naturally raided the fridge and ended up hauling away a few pounds of produce from my grandfather's garden (yet again). Don't call the police on me yet, I had permission :) Besides, who is going to actually refuse fresh cow-horn peppers, jalapenos, okra, and apples? Not me, for one!

As I was grabbing my loot and laughing madly, my sister was lackadaisically reaching for a bag of croutons as a snack while she watched her talk shows. I gave her a look, and asked if she wanted me to make her some real food. She said there wasn't anything to eat in the house, which I turned into a challenge. Now, limited items is one thing, but my sister is a special sort of picky eater. She likes a lot of those southern veggies (collard & turnip greens, etc) that I don't care for, but she doesn't like onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, or a bunch of other little things that show up in far more variety. I settled on jalapenos and some olives, which are more snacky things than real veggies, but that was okay. I found some chicken strips in the freezer and thawed them out, then dropped them in the deep skillet. Then I reduced a can of chicken broth in a small pot. When reduced, I added it to the chicken in the skillet, then I added a little cheese, some garlic, basil, and a touch of cayenne pepper to make a sort of sauce. In went the olives and peppers while I cooked some whole wheat rotini in the pot. When it was just shy of done, I drained it and added it to the skillet and let it simmer together, adding a teaspoon of bacon bits at the end. It wasn't the healthiest thing I've ever made and I would have done it a lot differently if I were cooking for myself, but it was really a fun thing to have a challenge like that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An ode to a knife

Let me be frank with you all. I am wrong quite often. If you observe me being wrong, point it out and gently guide me to common sense that I stray away from. I may not thank you then, but I will certainly do it later!

A case in point is for every wannabe cook or chef I know who has ever said a word about a good quality knife, and given me quality advice about getting such. I nodded like I was paying attention and I humored everybody who said that "you really should pay for a quality knife". Inwardly, I scoffed. What do I need a $100 knife for that isn't stainless, isn't machine-washable, and requires sharpening on occasion? Why, I paid $20 for this entire SET of fine knives (lol) at Target and it cuts everything I need cutting! Sure, I may have to saw on the occasional bit of difficult meat, but I get it cut, don't I?

Well we don't have to think about it too hard, I WAS AN IDIOT! I realized I was an idiot the moment a good friend of my wife's gave us a really nice knife of our own:

I looked at the Isbjörn knife, thought it was too pretty for everyday kitchen duty, and wondered how often it would be used before it was put aside in favor of my workhorses. Well, needless to say that it took all of one day of cooking for me to change my tune. I found to my amazement that I could actually chop onions like they do on TV, rather than gritting my teeth and sort of torquing down on my knife, as the back & forth motion gave me a lopsided cut. Tomato slices became thin and gorgeous, and I wasn't smooshing half the guts out on my cutting board like I used to do with the econo line. If that didn't tell me all I needed to know, I found it out with chicken breasts, when I was able to zip the cleanest lines in raw meat that I'd ever seen. It was like cutting tofu or semi-soft cheese. The old back & forth action? Forget it. One pass and it's done. The straw that broke the camel's back was actually breaking the shallow tang on one of my piece-of-crap econo knives when cutting a sliver of Swiss Grüyere! What garbage is that?

I may keep my bread knife from that set, maybe. I will upgrade to steak knives that are actually nice, I know for certain. The rest? They're yours if you want them, but caveat emptor. I've discovered monogamy in knife form, and I'm forever a changed man. So let me give a lesson to a few of you out there, and yeah I know you may ignore it as I once did:


It makes the kitchen a vastly more fun place than you realize :)

What do I make my wife for dinner to get on her good side?

Garum Angel Hair with Spinach Calimari Fritti and Red Pepper Pesto!

I don't know what it is about this wonderful dish, whether its the onslaught of aromatic and savory influences, the wonderful colors, or just the off-beat use of garum, but of all the stuff that I cook, this is the one that she comes back for again and again. Now, I love to make NEW things, so in my mind, going back to the playbook is okay, but not ideal. That being said, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!

Okay, this is broken down into a few things. Here's the overview of it. Take notes, there's a test later!

Got all that! Put it in a bowl and hit it with a hammer. That's how you make my dish! Ta-da!!!

Kidding, kidding.

Let's start off with the pesto sauce. For that, you want:

One large red bell pepper
Two teaspoons olive oil (I used an oil flavored with garlic and mushrooms)
Teaspoon of dried oregano
Teaspoon of dried basil
Teaspoon of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
Cracked black pepper (maybe half teaspoon?)
Pinch of kosher salt
Handful of pine nuts
Two teaspoons tahini
1/4 Roma tomato

Cut your pepper in half lengthwise, and lay in a pyrex or similar baking dish. See the seeds inside? We hate seeds! Yank them out and throw them across the kitchen with rage. Make sure you clean out any stowaways too. Now, along the inner flesh of both halves, spread your olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. You have something that probably looks like this:

Preheat your oven to 450 and slap that sucker in for about 15-20 minutes, or until the skin on the bottoms starts to brown and pucker a bit.

While that's happening, grab your pinenuts and put them in a skillet on medium heat without any oil. Roll them around a bit until you get a good bit of browning on them:

Shouldn't take long at all, and once they start to darken up a little, take the skillet off heat and put them in a dish.

Have a beer. Relax. Maybe do some dishes. You can also take this opportunity to make the spinach batter for the calamari fritti.

Easy peasy, here's what you need:

About a half cup of gluten free rice flour (add more to adjust consistency)
About half a cup of water (keep this conservative)
Big huge wad of baby spinach. (About two good fistfulls.)
Two pinches of kosher salt
Teaspoon of baking powder
Half teaspoon cracked black pepper
About a dozen calamari rings (give or take)
Oil for frying (I use canola)

Okay, zip your spinach in a processor. I mean really go to town on it. You'll probably want to add a little of that water to the spinach so that you can keep the blades spinning and really get that stuff reduced into nearly a paste.

Looks like a green milkshake, kinda. That's good. We want the gorgeous color that the spinach has in it, and this is going to make a beautiful batter.

Add the salt, pepper, baking powder, and spinach milkshake to your rice flour.

If it's watery, add flour. If it's cakey, add water. The best way to test is to dip a ring of calamari into the batter. If it sticks in a generally uniform way, it's perfect. Either way, set this batter aside for now. You'll be using it soon.

Zut alors! Your peppers must be done by now!

Doesn't look like much changed, except for that shot of steam in your face and that wonderfully pungent pepper smell. Look at the skin. See how its dark and a bit pruney? Let this sit and cool for a while (PS get another beer). When its cooled to where you can handle it, flip each pepper half over in the dish and give the skin a tug. It should slough off almost entirely in one big piece. Throw that skin away, its work is done :)

Now, plop both halves of pepper, spices, and oil into your food processor. Add your tahini and piece of roma tomato, and puree. You want a nearly uniform pesto. It's okay to have a little chunk, but we want to keep that to a minimum. Once it's done in the processor, scoop that fire-red pesto into a dish and crush your pine nuts, stirring them inside. I didn't take a picture of this for some reason, but you will see the finished result later.

Now, back to frying the calamari fritti. I fry in a cast iron skillet but this is the sort of thing that a deep fryer would also work well for, or anything where you can add more oil. Start nearly at high temp. I choose canola because aside from being generally one of the healthier oils, its got a high smoke point, and tolerates a temperature that high. At any rate, you want it nearly at high temp, and then dial it back to medium high to drop your calamari in. This is going to flash seal your batter and allow for a slower, tastier cooking of the stuff within. Too often calamari is tough and rubbery, but it does not have to be. You're only going to have the rings in the oil for about two minutes, tops. Get them out and set them on a drying rack, like this:

Notice the green? It doesn't look like much, but wait for it in the final dish. Take a tiny pinch of fine-ground kosher salt and slightly sprinkle on each ring while it dries on the rack.

While your calamari cools, take about six stalks of asparagus, and cut the pale bases of the stalks off. In another pan, add just barely enough olive oil to moisten the bottom, and crush half a clove of garlic. Cook on medium heat for about five minutes or so, and remove.

While that's simmering a little, slice out about six very thin slices of roma tomato, and set aside.

Now, what are we forgetting? Angel hair pasta! The base of our dish! I hope I don't have to tell you how to cook pasta, BUT if you are that one person who has never done it before, you want a big pot 3/4 full of water on high heat, with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt as well. When it boils, drop in your pasta. I used a full pack, but I wouldn't recommend it as it made too much pasta for the servings I was going for. A half pack should be fine. You will stir the pasta and water for about two or three minutes, and then take it off high heat and put into a collander to shake out any excess moisture. Transfer that to a big bowl where you can toss that pasta, because we're going to add some oil and garum to it!

What is garum? GLAD YOU ASKED!

Garum is a family of sauces and additives that was popularized in the ancient roman empire. It's very similar to some southeast asian fish sauces, and usually involves parts of fish, whole fish, fish guts, etc of whatever people had, put into a brining barrel, and left over the summer season to ferment.

Disgusted yet? Don't lose heart, fermenting is great! It's a magical process, and if you don't believe me, ask the beer in your hand what it thinks about it!

At any rate, the garum I use is a particular kind, called garum colatura. If you must know, it is made of gutted anchovies, and comes from Italy. It has an amber color, a lightly pungent, vaguely bready, vaguely fishy smell, and a salty taste, with an extremely subtle essence of fish. I take about two tablespoons of this stuff, and pair it with four to five tablespoons of my garlic and mushroom olive oil:

Add a bit of cracked black pepper, and toss that about until the entire batch of pasta has a glistening, oily patina. You'll catch faint notes of that rustic garum smell as you do it, and I guarantee you'll be anxious to finish this dish.

Fortunately, you're done! Arrange on a plate as you will (I suck at plating but that's something I'll get with repetition) and serve! With a half pack of pasta, it will be good for serving four people.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A simple soup that made my day!

Made a red pepper cream soup with roma tomato and rosemary! Seemed like a good idea at the time because I am a gigantic sucker for rosemary in anything I can get away with putting it in. Red peppers always seem to be complimentary, and my wife's favorite dish I cook is a pasta that uses both to huge effect for a pesto, but we'll talk about that one at a later time ;)

Anyway, time for a creamy, but bright and sunny little soup thats really easy to make, provided you have a beaucoup stash of peppers.

Basically split open at least a half dozen red peppers, get the seeds out, drizzle a little olive oil and add fresh rosemary and ground peppercorns, then cook that in the oven on 350 for 30 minutes.

When that's out, unpeel the skins from each pepper half and toss into the food processor with a roma tomato and liquify the hell out of it. Add that to 16 ounces of chicken stock, a teaspoon of salt, set it on medium heat, then add a half cup of heavy cream when it's hot.

Garnish with a rosemary sprig, and I served with rosemary artisan bread. Did I mention I love rosemary way too much?

I was pinching bits of bread and putting them in and the brisk little bursts of that sticky little herb just exploded on my taste buds. With a cool glass of mint tea to fly wingman, this was a really good meal for as little effort as it demanded!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Pillar...of Salt???

For any Christian readers of mine, remember this old chestnut from the Old Testament?
Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;
And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
But his [Lot's] wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
-- Genesis 19: 24-26 (KJV)
I couldn't help think a little about that when I got my latest weirdo acquisition:

A five pound "pillar" of pink himalayan salt! My good buddy Dino Sarma at Alternative Vegan gave me the hookup on this really interesting bit of kitchen equipment. Apparently its really good for stuff like carpaccio and sashimi, and anything with a wet base that will be complemented by picking up the lovely mineral-rich himalayan salt on the surface. Being vegan-minded, Dino was sure to also let me know about using it for cucumber spreads, and also giving a unique arrangement and hint of flavor for fruits, and even a good way to breathe life into raw veggie platters. Thanks Dino, you're the man :)

Falafel, Tzatziki, and Mutabbal - An Arabic Feast!

I made me some falafel!

Here's how you can do it too!

Use this crap:

1 15 ounce can of garbanzo beans (chicpeas) OR an equivalent amount of raw that have been soaked and cooked previously
1 onion

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1 cup bread crumbs

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 egg

2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground corriander

1 teaspoon fine ground kosher salt

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

dash of pepper

rice flour (for coating)

sesame seeds (for coating)

oil (for frying - I use canola)

Take your chicpeas in a bowl and mash the hell out of them with your big meatfists! Leave no chicpea unmolested! No, but seriously, get them good and mooshed up. Take a food processor and zip the onions, parsley, and garlic, adding to the mix. In a separate bowl, mix an egg, cumin, corriander, salt, oil, lime juice, cayenne, and pepper, and stir until its a uniform goop. Add to main bowl and stir. It's going to be slick and sticky, so add a cup of breadcrumbs bit by bit. You may use more or less than a cup, the important thing is that your mix should be as dry as it can manage but still hold together.

Now in a separate small dish, pour some rice flour and sesame seeds, and spread them around.

You should have a mess that looks like this:

Take little balls of dough about the size of a golf ball, flatten them slightly and press them into the rice flour and sesame seed mix before you lay them on a cookie sheet or whatever. Once all the balls are formed and dusted, put the tray or sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes so they can cool and set a bit.

While you're doing that, prepare your frying implement. I prefer to pan fry in a cast iron skillet, but you can do as you wish. Once your oil gets good and hot, drop those babies in!

It'll take a bit to get a good cooking, so be patient. Check the sides occasionally, flip when you must, and drink a beer. Relax.

Eventually they will be done. If you have a cooling rack, I highly recommend you use it to put these on. It'll drain excess oil and make it taste so much better. When you put the falafel patties on the rack, try adding a little pinch of finely ground kosher salt to each one. It makes it taste absolutely divine!

Now, I also made some tzatziki for this, which was pretty easy too. Here's what you'll want:

1 cup regular plain yogurt (don't buy that low fat crap )
2 teaspoons dill weed
1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 tablespoon tahini

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Take the cucumber and run it through the food processor. Should end up with something akin to applesauce. Strain as much water as you can from this slop, and add it to a cup of yogurt. Add in dill weed, salt, pepper, and tahini. Stir.

Easy, huh?

I also made mutabbal, which is a dip that is very similar to baba ghannouj, if you've had that. I've heard some people call baba ghannouj mutabbal, and mutabbal baba ghannouj. The way it's been explained to me is that mutabbal generally has more tahini, but I've seen baba ghannouj recipes with as much as I used, so who knows.

I started eating this about a year ago, when a local shop near my work had opened up. They had great hommous, but I always kept coming back for this. It's got a very rich, smoky flavor, and goes great with pita or any flatbread.

Here's what you need:

Eggplants! (3 medium-ish ones or 2 large ones)
Tahini - 3 tablespoons
Juice from one lime
Tablespoon of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 chili pepper, finely chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Wood chips (for smoking on a grill)

First off, grill your eggplants. If you have a gas or charcoal grill, do what you can do get it ready to grill on a low/medium heat. Once that's done, take two handfuls of wood chips and put them in a pouch made from aluminum foil. Poke holes in that pouch so that smoke can get out. When you're ready, put that over the coals or element or whatnot, and then put your eggplants on.

I used hickory chips because thats what I had, and I love hickory smoke. Consider this arabic food with a southern accent ;)

Cover that and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until your eggplants get a general level of prunage. They'll start to look very wrinkly. Check back every 10 or so minutes and flip when necessary. Expect the skin to crack, tear, and maybe burn a little. That's okay.

When you're done, they should look something like this:

Now, let them cool for a good 25 minutes or more, and get a bowl or dish or something. Cut the eggplant heads off and then gently squeeze the lovecraftian nightmare that is the eggplants gross-looking innards into that bowl. Eeeewwww!

This picture does no justice, it looked like a monster I was scared.

Take this abomination and put it into a collander, giving a good press to get as much moisture out as possible before returning to your bowl.

Combine the other ingredients into a separate bowl and stir until its a uniform slop, then pour that into the other bowl. The picture above shows that bowl to the right. I'm sure you figured that out already.

From here, it's up to you. If you like traditional mutabbal, you can mash apart the ghastly pulp until its a good stringy mush. This results in a good and chunky dip.

I myself prefer it the way I was introduced to it, which is more of a refined dip. To that end, I used a blender on the mix setting to get a more uniform consistency, without it being runny. As with most dips from the Levant, it's usually dressed up with olive oil drizzled on top and some other garnish. For mine, I added pine nuts and a little dash of cumin.

Here's the final result, served with the aforementioned very very delicious falafel & tzatziki in an italian herb flatbread with a Dos Equis & lime.

Dos Equis and lime, you may gnash your teeth at me, and ask how I dare to defile the authenticity of this meal. To that, I say eat me, because this beer is delicious and I've been drinking it all day when I was grilling!

Onion Bhajis

The hardest part about Bhajis is finding a place that sells gram flour. Most supermarkets don't, but you can luck out at alternative foods, ethnic grocers, health food shops, hippy markets, etc. Lots of times it is called "garbanzo flour" or "chicpea flour" since its made out of that.

You'll need about a cup of the stuff, give or take.

Now get an onion (I use red but any decent sized one will do) and chop it up into thin strips. Set those aside. Take one or two green chiles, remove the seeds, and chop them finely. Crush about two or three teaspoons of corriander seeds in a mortar & pestle or a grinder if you have that.

Now put your flour in a mixing bowl and add to that a teaspoon of cumin, teaspoon of turmeric, teaspoon of chili powder, teaspoon of salt, and half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Pour some cold water on that gradually, until it is a muddy consistency. Test this by pouring your veggies into the bowl. If the stuff coats and clings to the veggies but still stirs about like a semi-liquid, you're good to go.

Take a deep saucepan or skillet and get a good half inch depth or so of oil - preferably canola. Get the oil heated up, and start taking small spoonfulls of the veggie batter and spooning them into the oil. They'll form these blobby looking things.

Because gram flour is a darker flour than most, and because the cumin, turmeric, and chili powder will make it appear even darker, you want these to go a little bit beyond golden brown before you take them out of the oil. I say kind of a copper I guess. It's easier to just post a picture of the final product:

As you can see, one onion makes a stupid huge amount of food. These are great with any manner of chutney. My wife really likes hot mango chutney, and I myself fancy cilantro chutney. Both are excellent.