Thomasina Miers’ recipe for purple sprouting broccoli and gram flour bhajis

Tantalisingly crisp outside, meltingly soft inside, these Indian-style broccoli bhaji bites are the perfect foil for a tangy, crunchy salad

A crisp, golden exterior that, when bitten, yields a soft, richly spiced and seasoned middle: eating bhajis is like sinking into beautifully aromatic pillows of goodness – comfort food at its best. And yet there is a wholesomeness to these ochre-stained morsels, with the turmeric-hued broccoli and sweet but tart pomegranate salad. They have a goodness that nourishes the body just as the fatty, sweet strands of onions feed the soul. A wonderfully devil-may-care January dish to gobble in front of a good movie.

Purple sprouting broccoli and chickpea bhajis with pomegranate chopped salad

These are delicious with dried mango powder (amchoor) sprinkled over, giving them tantalisingly sour notes.

Prep 20 min
Cook 10 min
Serves 4

250g chickpea flour
2 tsp turmeric
¼ tsp mild chilli powder
1 tsp salt
250g purple sprouting broccoli
, stem, leaves and florets roughly chopped
1 largish red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 handfuls fresh coriander leaves
Vegetable oil
, for frying

For the chopped salad
1 cucumber, diced small
2 big handfuls baby tomatoes, quartered
Seeds from ½ pomegranate
2 big handfuls
mint leaves
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp olive oil

To serve

Mango chutney
oor (optional)

Make the chopped salad first. Put everything in a bowl, toss, then season. Taste and add a pinch of sugar if needed, or a pinch more salt – it should taste delicious, fresh and fragrant. Put to one side to allow the flavours to mingle.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, spices and a teaspoon of fine sea salt, then whisk in 230-250ml water to make a thick batter the consistency of thick cream (the exact amount of water will depend on the weather and the flour and spices you are using). Stir in the broccoli, onion, chilli and coriander leaves until everything is generously coated.

To fry the bhajis, fill a deep pan or wok a third full with oil and heat it to 180-190C (or when a small crumb of bread turns golden in 15 seconds). Line a plate with kitchen paper to drain the bhajis.

Add heaped tablespoons of the mix to the hot oil and fry in batches for three to four minutes, being careful not to crowd the pan or it will bring the temperature of the oil down and the bhajis will be greasy instead of crisp. Turn the bhajis while cooking, until golden all over, then scoop out on to the plate. Keep them warm in a low oven while frying the rest, or eat the bhajis as they come out of the fryer.

Sprinkle the bhajis with flaky sea salt and a dusting of amchoor, if using, and serve with the salad, yoghurt and mango chutney alongside.

The simple flex …

Try adding a touch of ground coriander or cumin to the batter, or serve the bhajis with a slow-cooked mutton curry or fragrant dal for the ultimate curry night.