“ Brand: Tesco / Type: Snacks „
I absolutely love Indian food...the spicier the better in my case too. I have to admit though that no matter how hard I try I'm rubbish at trying to recreate it and so buy alot of Indian styled dishes and accompaniments. These I spotted in my local Tesco store the other night priced at £1.00 for 6 of them and I got them thinking that that seemed a very fair price! The Packaging: The bhajis come in a see-through plastic container and with a cardboard sleeve that goes over the middle of it and on the top of that sleeve we are told what they are of course, there is an at a glance nutritional chart shown and then on the back of it other information listed includes ingredients, allergy advice, a full nutritional chart and heating instructions (you can eat these hot or cold by the way) and contact details for Tesco are given. Nice enough,simple informative packaging this is and you don't get too much of it either! The Bhajis: Well when I took them out of the container they came in I was a little taken aback. I/m used to round in shape bhajis but no, these were rather large rounds of pattis in shape and like I previously mentioned you get 6 of them. The outside of these is rather dry, a dark brown dry texture really and as you bite through them you are met by a bright yellow soft and moist texture of which is blended with slithers of crunchy and well cooked onions in abundance. Flavoured with cumin, coriander powder and rice flour as well as a few other bits and ingredients these provide a slight chilli kick which compliments the well seasoned and not one bit greasy onions very well indeed. However though these are moist on the inside of them the outside, to me is a little to dry and like nibbling through rubber to get to the good bit. Unmessy to eat though and flavoursome enough these hold well and can of course be eaten hot or cold (you can pop them in the oven for about 16-18 minutes i you like). A decent buy, good value for money and tasty enough however like I say a bit dry and tough on the outside for me and although apparently coated in batter I can't see or taste that batter sadly its just slightly chewy! Nutritional Information Per Onion Bhaji Contains: Calories:110 Sugar: 1.8g Fat: 7.3g Saturates: 0.6g Salt: 0.5g Only available in Tesco stores.
I like my food to have character; I can't be doing with bland or mushy food. I like something that I can bite into, something that has a distinctive taste. This approach to food started when I was at school and my mum was the school cook - I decided then that there must be more to food than solid mashed potato served with ice cream scoops, suspect pieces of meat and weekly concerns that the tapioca was made from real frogspawn. Working from home last week I popped into Tesco looking for a spicy snack for lunch and came across their onion bhajis. The picture on the packaging looked inviting enough and at £1 for six bhajis (total weight 280gr) I figured that they were a bargain. On returning home I put on the oven (they need 10-12 minutes at Gas Mark 6 or 200C) and then read the small print across the back of the packaging. There was nothing surprising, the ingredients were quite standard (basically onions, flour, oil & spices), the bhajis were suitable for vegetarians and, as I had suspected, they were packed with calories and fat. One bhaji contained enough calories to cover 6% of GDA and the fat represented 10% of GDA - in other words if I decided to pig out and eat the whole pack myself these six bhajis would be responsible for more than a third of the calories, and close to two thirds of the fat, that I should consume during a day! I decided to be sensible and I cooked two bhajis, leaving the others to be eaten later on in the week. After the allotted time I took them out of the oven, put them on a plate and disappeared into my office (ok - the small back room that's filled with junk and has a small space for a laptop). The smell as they were cooking wasn't overpowering, it was just enough to get my tastebuds tingling as I looked forward to a hot, tasty snack. They stopped tingling as soon as I took my first mouthful. These bhajis were a very poor relation to those served up in an Indian restaurant. TEXTURE They had crisped up on the outside but the centre was simply stodge with pieces of onion included. According to the packaging these are meant to be "crisp, light fritters". I guess the problem is in the way that the bhajis have to be made in volume. If they were made by hand then the centre wouldn't be so compact, there would be air-pockets and it would be easier for them to cook all the way through and have a consistency of texture. TASTE Their wasn't a significant taste of onions - which is surprising as according to the ingredients onions make up 86% of the mixture. Instead the spices took over and not really in a good way, they left a tang in the mouth which I suspect was the coriander powder. According to the packaging however these are meant to be "delicately seasoned". They reminded me of an onion bhaji mix you used to be able to buy in the 80s (you may still be able to) - you added water and chopped onions to this dried mix and after cooking the result was meant to be restaurant style onion bhajis - it never worked. I was so disappointed by the taste and texture of the bhajis, I convinced myself that I must have made a mistake when I cooked them. The following evening I cooked them again, this time with my wife there to make sure that I wasn't doing anything stupid. I wasn't and they were just as poor as they had been the previous day. CONCLUSION Even when the price is taken into account this is a poor attempt to replicate a restaurant and/or hand made dish on a production line. The strap line on the packaging probably says it all when they describe the onion bhajis as being an "Indian style snack". Indian style? I don't go out in the evening for an Indian style meal, I go out for an Indian. Definitely something I won't be buying again. I'd rather pay £2.50 for a smaller portion from the takeaway than £1 for six of these. Or if money is tight I'll simply learn how to cook them myself. Avoid.
I think money is tight for a lot of us at the moment so everyone's looking for ways to cut down. One of the things we're doing in our house is getting a supermarket take away on a Friday or Saturday night instead of ordering out. There are four and a little mouths to feed so ordering from the indian can be quite pricey. But by buying some bits from Tesco, we spent about a quarter of what we normally would. One of the things we had with our take away home ready meal was these Tesco Onion Bhajis. We bought a pack of 12 mini ones because they were on special offer for only 99p which I thought was very good. It was enough for everyone to have two or three each so I think the pack size is just right for the average family. You can also get these in large sizes in packs of six if you prefer those these weren't on offer this week in our local store. The first thing I noticed about these was how moist and greasy they are. Not in a sickly way but in a tasty, soft and appetising way. The onion flavour is strong but not too overwhelming and the smell is quite mild considering how potent Indian food can be at times! These went really nicely with the mint and cucumber dip we had but you can also just eat these on their own. Because they're nice and moist, it doesn't matter if you use them with dip or on their own. I think these are a brilliant accompaniment to any Indian ready meal and really recommend them. They're nice and mild, really tasty and a bargain price too.
In Tesco, again buying for my granddaughters 12th birthday party, I saw a pack of their own brand Onion Bhajis and thought they would appeal to the new grown up girl my granddaughter is becoming. There are six in a pack and they cost £1.26 so I bought two packs as they looked large enough to cut in half if they were running short. They are very simple to cook, making them ideal party food when hours are spent getting sandwiches ready before the ham on the buffet starts curling up. 12 minutes in the middle of oven at Gas Mark 6 will have these cooked perfectly and ready to transfer to the serving plates. These Bhajis are delicious, they are not as strong as those you'd buy in an Indian restaurant but that is fine with me as I find proper Bhajis rather overpowering sometimes. These ones from Tesco are perfect for my taste. They have 78% onion listed in the ingredients so they're obviously very onioney tasting, but Tesco have toned down the spiciness in this version which makes them much easier to eat. I could taste a vague chilli flavour but it certainly wasn't enough to make my mouth burn, it's the perfect level of spice as far as I'm concerned for a snack like this. There aren't many huge pieces of onion, it's been shredded and pulped into oblivion and this again is an advantage as far as I'm concerned because I find supermarket Bhajis usually have such large chunks of onion that it doesn't cook properly and stays hard. There are no crunchy pieces of undercooked onion in these Bhajis and the onion taste itself is perfect. The Bhajis are coated in a thin stodgy batter which I think is delicious even if it is a little greasy. It's a nicely seasoned batter which adds another layer of spice, but again just enough to give the Bhaji an authentic kick. The heat in these Bhajis is easily calmed down with a dollop of mayo, which is how all the teeny bopper 12 year olds ate theirs at the party! The texture of these Bhajis is great. Because they are so large and knobbly I wasn't expecting them to cook evenly in such a short time but they came out lovely. The inside is soft and only very lightly compacted together, it has a consistency that meant I was able to bite straight into my Bhaji without crumbs falling all over the place. The batter holds the Bhaji together well although it's wrapped so loosely that the contents of the Bhaji can still breathe and the whole thing tastes fresh and distinctly, well, Indian. A good representation anyway! Each Bhaji contains 85 calories and 4.8g of fat so not as terribly bad as I thought they'd be for my diet, I only had one as they are one of those snacks that are delicious but one is enough. Everyone who tried a Bhaji at the party enjoyed them and they were all eaten so that has to be money well spent.