My take on an onion bhaji: a deep-fried crispy fritter made from gram flour, spices and lemon juice. I add a little carrot for a touch of sweetness, and a little lightness – equally, the more types of onion the better (red, white, and even spring onions). I guess there is no reason why pak choi, sweet potato or anything you’d like to add couldn’t be…

Onion Bhaji
Onion Bhajis with Mango Chutney and Lime

It does require quite a lot of oil, but I pass it through a tea strainer into a jar once it has cooled – and then use the oil again (once or twice) or little bits for any shallow frying until its used up.

Key is getting the right consistency for the batter – about the same as double cream – and using hot oil. If the batter is too thick then they are too doughy, and if the oil is too cool they won’t be crispy, but instead very greasy. The onions shouldn’t be too finely sliced otherwise strands that are hanging off will burn too quickly.

Another thing to note, they reheat very well in the oven – so they can be made in a large batch and kept in the fridge or freezer and reheated when required. (A few minutes in the oven also helps draw of any excess oil too, so I tend to cook them slightly on the light side and pop them in for 5 minutes until they are nice and crisp.

Ingredients:

  • 130 g of gram flour*
  • 1/2 a lemon’s juice
  • a little cold water
  • 3 onions (or 2 onions and 3 or so spring onions), sliced
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1/2 a bunch of coriander, chopped
  • 3 tsp of ‘dhana jeera’ (a mix of cumin and coriander powder – alternatively use 2 tsp of coriander powder and 1 tsp of cumin powder)
  • 2 tsp root ginger, finely grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 (or more!) finely chopped green chilli (or ~1 tsp of chilli powder)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper

Method:

  1. Mix together the gram flour, lemon juice, and, adding until the consistency of double cream is reached, cold water.
  2. Mix in all the other ingredients.
  3. Heat a pan 1/3 full of oil until it reaches 180C (you can check by popping a single strand of battered onion in the pan – it should bubble fairly furiously, and float to the top rapidly). At this point its not a bad idea to cook one bhaji and check the seasoning.
  4. Using two dessert spoons, scoop a ball of the mixture into the oil (depending in the size of the sauce pan 1, 2 or maybe 3 can be cooked at a time – too many though and the temp of the oil will drop too much) and fry for about 3-4 minutes. Either take them out when they are a light golden colour – if you wish to cook them again later, or wait until they are a nice golden brown.

They go well with ketchup, a sweet chilli sauce (I highly recommend Lingham’s Chilli Sauce), or (of course) mango chutney, cucumber riata, and/or lime pickle.

(*Although they should be made using gram flour, when I couldn’t get any I used plain flour, an egg, and a little water which worked equally well).

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