Reena and Nadim’s Tanzanian Potato Bhajias with Tomato Chutney

Also called nylon bhajias in East Africa, these simple pakoras are easy to make and more addictive than French fries. Serve them with Reena’s tomato chutney, or with my shortcut chutney–ketchup and chili garlic sauce mixed together. The only ingredient that might be hard to find is Gram flour, also called besan. or sometimes chana flour. This recipe might work with regular AP flour instead, or another legume-based flour, but gram flour has a distinctive flavor. For more kick, add extra spices or chilis to the batter.


3 large potatoes, cleaned and sliced thinly (1/8 to 1/4 inch)

1 cup gram flour (besan)

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground cumin 

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2/3 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste

oil for frying


  1. In large bowl, mix gram flour, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, salt and cumin.
  2. Add 1/3 cup water, and whisk until lump free. Gradually add another 1/3 cup of water, whisking for a smooth batter.
  3. Add sliced potatoes to the bowl and toss to coat.
  4. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in small pan until hot. Drop potatoes into hot oil. Fry 1-2 minutes, then flip to fry other side. Cook until golden brown.
  5. Enjoy hot with chutney.

Reena’s Tomato Chutney

I always have the ingredients for this chutney on hand, and it tastes fantastic on almost everything. You may need an Indian store for some of the ingredients, but the spices will last a long time in your pantry. And a tip: curry leaves freeze beautifully.


2 tsp oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1/2 tsp dried methi/fenugreek leaves

5 curry leaves torn into pieces

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2-inch ginger, grated

pinch of asafetida/hing (optional)

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder

796 mL (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, diced

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt


  1. In medium saucepan or deep frying pan over med-high, heat oil until hot.
  2. Add mustard seeds, fenugreek, and curry leaves.
  3. Once the mustard seeds start popping, add garlic, ginger, and asafetida.
  4. Sauté one minute, then add Kashmiri chili powder and turmeric.
  5. Sauté another minute, then stir in tomatoes, sugar, and salt. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer 10 minutes.
  6. Uncover and increase heat. Cook over medium high until reduced and thick. Mash tomatoes with the back of a spoon while cooking. Texture should be like a thick, chunky salsa. Enjoy warm or cold!