I still remember the day when I got introduced to these "loving" fritters. I was at Kaku's place after school. She had made these unusual bhujies, which totally intrigued me. I knew that these are not spinach leaves. Kaku said that these are "Mayalu leaves"! I had never heard about these leaves and the only meaning of the word "Mayalu", I knew that time was - loving - in Marathi. Kaku had a hearty laugh of my interpretation of those loving fritters. She took me to her terrace garden and showed me the vine that was creeping by the stakes. She even gave me the black beadlike seeds and told me to plant them to get my own "mayaLu". I loved those leaves and their quaint name. I brought those seeds home. Dad helped me plant them into our flower-bed. Mom said that these are "MayaLu" which also go by the name "VaaLi" in Konkani. Very soon, we got the vine and mom made these delicious homegrown MayaLu fritters.
I planted my own plant this summer. Read about that experiment here -
MayaLuchi Bhuji/Poi ni bhujiya
Malabar Spinach Fritters
12 Malabar Spinach Leaves, washed & dried
Whisk till there are no lumps
3/4 cup besan/chickpea flour
1 tbsp rice flour
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp asafeotida
salt to taste
1 tsp hot oil
Oil for deep frying
A generous pinch of salt or chaat masala
1. Rinse the leaves so there are no impurities. Pat them dry completely.
2. Heat oil - preferably peanut oil in a wok or kadhai.
3. Whisk chickpea flour with remaining ingredients to make a thick batter. Add water carefully. The batter should be able to coat the leaves. Add a spoonful of hot oil from the kadhai.
4. Coat each leaf with the besan batter and place carefully in the hot oil.
5. Deep fry on both the sides.
6. Take off on a kitchen absorbent paper.
7. Sprinkle some salt or chaat masala if using. This is completely optional. Our traditional recipe does not need this step.
8. Serve hot bhujiyas with tomato ketchup or as an accompaniment with the daily meal.
1. American cooks often sprinkle some salt on the deep fried fritters right after they come out from the fryer. That's why I too suggested to sprinkle some salt or chaat masala. But as mentioned, this is not traditional.
2. If any chickpea batter is left, you can slice any other vegetables like potatoes and make quick bhujiyas to use any leftover batter.