Onion Bhaji, bhajia, pakora or fritter- whatever you call it, needs no introduction. The humble onion is humble no more when it is sliced, mixed with spices and fried. Even though it is fried, it is surprisingly light as equally it is addictive. The key to a good bhaji is the main ingredient- more onion and less flour. I’ve used red onions here but white or yellow onions can be used as well. The best pairing of bhaji is definitely copious amount of masala tea and conversation ie. ‘adda’.
PREP TIME: 15 mins
COOK TIME: 30 mins
YIELDS: Serves or makes 3-4
For Onion Bhaji
- Onion, 1 large cut into thin slices
- Chick pea flour (besan) 1 ½ cups
- Rice flour 2 tbsp
- Cornflour 1 tbsp
- Fennel seeds 1 tbsp
- Carom seeds 1 tsp
- Green chilies 4, chopped
- Ginger 1 tsp
- Turmeric 2 tsp
- Red chili powder 1 tbsp
- Rock salt for serving
- Oil 2 tsp
- Oil for frying
For Tamarind Sauce
- Tamarind 1 package
- Red chili 2-3
- Cumin seeds 2 tbsp
- Sugar ½ cup
- Put in a bowl chick pea flour, corn flour, rice flour, salt, turmeric, red chili powder, red chilies.
- Heat 2 tsp of hot oil and pour over the mixture. Let it rest for 2 minutes.
- Mix in the onions and ginger. Add a little water to make a batter. Make sure the batter is not too thin.
- Heat oil. Make small portions of the batter and shallow fry in medium flame till golden brown. Drain on a kitchen towel. Sprinkle some rock salt and serve the bhajis with tamarind sauce.
- Heat water and pour over the tamarind. Let it sit for some time. Squeeze out all the flesh and pulp of the tamarind. Put the pulp in a pan. Add sugar and cook till thickened.
- Dry roast red chilies and cumin seeds in a small pan. Cool and grind. Mix in the tamarind chutney.
- Adding hot oil to the batter makes it crispy and absorb less oil. Rice flour also makes it crispy.
- Add as little water as possible to make the batter. Remember the onions will release some water too.
- Slicing the onions really thin cooks it while it is frying and ensures that the pakoras are not heavy and soggy soaking in too much oil.
- Do not crowd the pan. Fry 5-6 bhajis at a time.
- You can make the chutney with as much or as little sugar you want. I have not tried chutney with artificial sweeteners so I’m not sure how it would compromise the taste. In any case you would eat only a bit of the chutney anyway to accompany the bhaji so it is ok to use sugar, right? Obviously if you have health implications, avoid it altogether. The Bhajis taste delicious with or without the chutney.
- You can make the tamarind sauce as spicy as you want. If you what it mild, go ahead and omit the chilies.
- I would add fresh coriander if I had some, which, this time round, I’d run out of.
- Variations: you can add fresh mint, spinach or fenugreek leaves to the batter.