This onion bhaji recipe produces the best restaurant quality onion bhaji!! Seriously, once I tried these onion bhajis I had to hunt down the recipe for them they were so delicious. They also happen to be vegetarian, vegan and are naturally gluten free! And you can deep fry these or bake them in the oven! This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader.
Onion bhajis are crispy onion cakes - they're like the onion version of hash browns flavoured with delicious Indian spices . They are one of my favourite Indian snacks and they're also great because they're gluten free and vegan too so they're a great cocktail party staple. When my friend Valentina held a curry night at her house, one of her friends Steve brought along a portable gas stove, wok and a bowl and mixed up and fried these onion bhajis fresh. Everyone went crazy for them me included. They were not the doughy, heavy numbers that you sometimes get. They were perfectly crisp and lacey with plenty of sweet onions held together by the merest amount of batter.
Tips for Making THE BEST Onion Bhaji!
1 - What colour onion is best to use? Any type works and they all look very similar once cooked. I like red onion because it is slightly sweeter but have also used white (milder) and yellow/brown (stronger). Use whatever you have really.
2 - What is chaat masala? Chaat masala is a powdered spice mix sold at Indian stores that gives Indian dishes a wonderful boost of flavour. Typically it has amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, coriander, asafoetida, ginger, black salt, black pepper and chili. You can sometimes find this at the supermarket if your branch has a good sized Indian section. It is absolutely worth a visit to the Indian grocery store for this. It's great sprinkled on wherever you'd add salt.
3 - Make sure to finely grind the fenugreek seeds as they can impart a slightly bitter flavour when left whole .
4 - Use a mandolin to make fast work of slicing the onions. I use it on the thinnest setting.
5 - Gram flour is also called chickpea flour and can be found in the flour section of the supermarket or at Indian grocery stores. It is a gluten free flour.
6 - Don't worry if your mixture looks like a lot of onions and not a lot of batter. That's what you want and there's definitely enough batter and having lots of onion gives it that amazingly addictive flavour!
7 - Like all deep fried food, onion bhaji is best made fresh much in the same way that Valentina's friend made them. They just won't have the lovely crispness once they sit for a while. But they can also be heated up in the oven at 180C/350F for 5 minutes to bring back their crispness.
8 - If you hate deep frying (I do!) then you can oven bake these. They won't be quite as crispy but they'll still be absolutely delicious! Both Mr NQN and I prefer the oven baked version when freshly cooked but the fried ones heated up a bit better.
Dear Reader I had some sobering health news recently. I did my annual blood test (which is reality came off the rails when COVID hit and became a biannual one) and I have slightly elevated cholesterol. That means my beloved butter will now be relegated to cakes and the occasional treat and my beloved cheese is now a very, very occasional treat. Lamb is for special occasions and I probably will have to forego the skin on chicken which is my favourite part, because, well the skin on a chicken is my favourite part and is probably partially what landed me in this predicament.
On the upside I found myself an amazing doctor that is local to me and he took the time to explain things and gave me a chart on what foods to avoid. It's very interesting what is and what isn't ok to eat and what a difference switching from full cream dairy to skim makes and avoiding egg yolks vs the whites. Also most oils don't have cholesterol in them (but some like coconut oil are high in saturated fat) at all whereas butter is very high in it. So I'm leaning into the vegetables and subbing oil instead of butter. I'm not suggesting that deep fried onion bhajis are healthy but these actually contain no cholesterol and you can always bake them too as I mentioned.
There is a part of me that was amazed that it took so long for it to show up as I've always eaten what I wanted with no regard for cholesterol. With the new eating regime my biggest challenge in all of this was my morning cup of tea. I hated skim milk and the non milk alternatives left me highly dissatisfied. So I ended up switching to homemade peach iced tea every morning which I am actually really enjoying!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you got any tips for managing cholesterol? And do you have high cholesterol?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 2 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6 with curries (makes around 18 onion bhajis)
- 375g/13ozs. onions (around 3 onions, I used white and red ones)
- 100g/3.5ozs gram or chickpea flour
- 3 teaspoons chaat masala*
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons coriander leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, finely ground
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 120ml/4flozs cold soda or sparkling water
- Oil for deep frying (canola oil) or for brushing over before baking
Step 1 - Peel the onions and slice them in half. Mandolin these on the thinnest setting. In a bowl whisk the flour with the chaat masala, ground coriander, coriander leaves, fenugreek, chilli and salt. Toss this with the onions. Finally add the cold water to the batter.
Step 2a: Deep Frying - To deep fry, heat the oil in a large, deep pot until it reaches 170C/340F. Taking two tablespoons scoop a tablespoon of onion mixture into the oil. Fry for 2 minutes on each side and then remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Serve with cucumber and yogurt raita.
Step 2b: Oven baking instructions - Preheat oven to 220C/440F and line two baking trays with parchment. Dollop mixture onto the tray and brush with oil. Bake for 12 minutes, then turn over and bake for another 8 minutes. Serve with cucumber and yogurt raita.