Sunday 18 March 2018

Recipes: All Tapped Out... healthy onion bhajis

Her so-called 'brain ticks' are starting to interfere with the running regime, so Sophie White devised this healthy version of onion bhajis to help keep her waistline in check.

Spices are an important part of healthy onion bhajis. Photo: Deposit Photos.
Spices are an important part of healthy onion bhajis. Photo: Deposit Photos.

Sophie White

After the aggressive eating of the festive season had spiralled on into January, I knew that I had to rein things in this month. The one thing that keeps me vaguely person-shaped is jogging - that, and the fact that there are still at least eight hours every day when I am asleep, and therefore not actually capable of eating.

Lately, however, my running career has been thwarted somewhat. I am quite a superstitious person and I am married to a number of routines in my daily life. I'm not quite at the stage that I have to turn the light switches on and off eight times or else my family will die, but I do have little rituals and routines that I can't live without.

For example, I have a spoon that I am particularly fond of. OK, it goes beyond fondness. When a spoon is called for, I only eat with this spoon. I couldn't conceive of using another one. I haven't even articulated what the consequences of using another spoon would be, I just know it would mess with the equilibrium of my tiny universe.

I am also quite into counting. When I was little, I liked to keep a running count of billboards owned by a certain outdoor-advertising company, and each time I saw a new one, I would update my tally in a copybook.

When I am eating things like grapes or berries, I have to eat odd numbers only. I just prefer odd numbers to even ones, and will never set my alarm to 8:00, but rather 7:59.

When I'm out and about, I frequently get urges to tap things; branches on trees, locks on gates, even strangers on the back.

The annoying thing is this: once the thought has occurred to me to tap something, I find it nearly impossible to resist, and it has to be three taps. Always. Which can be a problem with the strangers. One tap is an accident, while three taps could easily be construed as assault.

I never saw my tapping and counting as a compulsion, but more of a comfort thing, and I find it beyond irritating when people flippantly use the term OCD as an adjective. I don't think that there is anything whatsoever clinically obsessive-compulsive about my tappings. I always think of them as little brain ticks that most of us have to some degree or other.

The annoying thing is that the tapping is now starting to impinge on my daily jogs. I have three main routes that I run, and over time I have developed rituals within each regarding sites of tapping. The problem is, that as I run the routes more and more, I develop more tapping needs, as, like I said, once I think about tapping something, it kind of has to be tapped.

My favourite and longest running route is on the beach, so while it is by far the most scenic, it also, at this point, has so many tapping requirements that I am beginning to think I may have to scrap running there altogether and focus more on the other two routes - at least until they too become too tap-heavy themselves.

Seeing all of this written down is making me feel a bit self-conscious about my tapping and counting. I think I'll leave this little confessional here at 633 words, before any concerned reader feels the urge to send me a self-help book or anything.

When the cardio exercise is being compromised, healthy eating is of the utmost importance. These are a good alternative to the traditional, tasty onion bhaji; serve them with mango chutney and your favourite curry.

Onion Bhajis

Makes 8.

You will need:

60g (2oz) oats

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

pinch of chilli flakes

½ teaspoon salt

2 egg whites

Approx 2 tablespoons water

Half a large white onion, finely sliced in half moons

Spray cooking oil

4 tablespoons of mango chutney, to serve

Fresh coriander, chopped, to serve

Preheat the oven to 220°C, 425°F, Gas 7.

To make the batter, put the oats, the turmeric, the fennel seeds, the cumin seeds, the chilli flakes and the salt in a blender and blitz everything until the oats are fine. Add in the egg whites and the water, and blend again to combine. Pour the batter mixture into a bowl.

Toss the finely sliced half moons of onion in the batter until they are well coated.

Coat a non-stick frying pan with a little spray cooking oil and heat over a high heat. Using a fork, pick up quantities of the onion mixture and put it on the frying pan, flattening it out so that it is no more than 1 cm (less than ½in) at its thickest point. Cook in two batches of four bhajis each.

Fry each onion bhaji for about 3-5 minutes on either side and then place them on a lined baking tray in the preheated oven and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until they are crispy and completely firm.

Serve with the mango chutney and the chopped fresh coriander.

Sunday Independent

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