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Onion Bhaji

Updated: Aug 30

Onion Bhaji Recipe: How to Make the Classic Indian Appetizer at Home

Onion Bhaji is a delightful Indian appetizer that is hard to resist. With a crispy exterior and a deliciously spiced interior, it's a perfect snack to enjoy with your favourite dip. Whether it's the classic mango chutney or the refreshing mint yogurt, the bhajis are sure to satisfy your cravings. In this onion bhaji recipe, we'll be serving them with a simple yet flavourful chili sauce that's easy to make at home. So get ready to indulge in this mouth-watering dish that's perfect for any occasion!

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Crispy onion bhaji appetizers with a side of spicy chili sauce.
Golden-crisp onion bhajis paired with a vibrant, tangy sauce, ready to tantalize the taste buds.

What is an Onion Bhaji? Unravelling the Popular Indian Snack

Onion bhajis are a popular Indian snack made from a mixture of sliced onions, spices, and gram flour, deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. They are often served as an appetizer or snack with chutneys or sauces, and are enjoyed across the Indian subcontinent as well as in other parts of the world. The origins of onion bhajis can be traced back to the Indian subcontinent, where they have been a popular street food snack for centuries. The word "bhaji" in Hindi means "vegetable fritter," and the dish has evolved over time to include a variety of vegetables in addition to onions, such as potatoes, spinach, and eggplant.

In recent years, onion bhaji recipes have gained popularity in other parts of the world, especially in the UK, where air fryer onion bhaji is a common variation. Some variations of the dish may include different spices or ingredients, such as ginger, garlic, or chili peppers.

Preparation Details:

Preparation time: 20-30 minutes

Cooking time: 15-25 minutes (for 3-4 batches)

This recipe makes: 15 Bhajis

Crafting the Perfect Bhaji: Ingredients You'll Need

  • 4 medium white onions, cut in half and sliced thinly

  • 1 green chili, finely sliced (seeds removed if desired)

  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks

  • 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste (or 2 cloves of garlic and a thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated)

  • A small handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

  • 1tsp salt

  • 1tsp mild chili powder

  • 1tsp ground coriander

  • 1tsp ground turmeric

  • 1tsp ground cumin

  • 1 large egg (optional - skip for vegan version)

  • 175 grams (1.1/4 cups) of gram flour (chickpea flour)

  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying (enough to fill a large pot to a depth of at least 2 inches)

Gram flour in a bag - essential ingredient for authentic Onion Bhaji recipes.
Gram flour is the essential binding and flavour component in traditional Onion Bhaji recipes.

Crafting the Crispy Delight: Steps to Perfecting Your Onion Bhajis

1. Preheat a deep fat fryer or a small pot filled with oil to 170C (340F). To check the oil temperature, use an electric probe.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine sliced onions with potato matchsticks, green chilli, garlic ginger paste, fresh coriander, salt, and spices. Mix well until all onions are evenly coated.

3. Crack one egg into the bowl and mix it thoroughly with the onion mixture until all ingredients are well combined.

4. Gradually add the chickpea flour to the bowl, stirring constantly until there are no visible signs of dry flour remaining in the mixture (Consider resting the onion bhaji mix for about 10-15 minutes before frying. This allows the flavours to meld and the gram flour to absorb moisture, resulting in a better texture).

5. To protect your hands, wear gloves and take a small amount of the bhaji mix, shaping it into a ball in your hands without compressing the mixture. Carefully place the ball into the hot oil.

6. Cook the bhajis until they are golden-brown, flipping them over once to cook the other side until it is also golden-brown. Use a spider strainer or tongs to remove the bhajis from the oil and place them onto a kitchen paper to drain any excess oil.

7. Repeat the process until all of the bhajis are cooked. Serve them immediately or reheat them in the oven before serving.

Making Air Fryer Onion Bhaji: A Healthier Twist

If you're looking to make onion bhaji in an air fryer, follow the same preparation steps for the onion bhaji mix. Instead of deep frying, place the bhajis in the air fryer and cook at 180°C for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, turning halfway. Ensure they are spaced out evenly to allow for proper air circulation. This will give your air fryer onion bhaji a crispy finish.

Crispy onion bhaji appetizers with tangy dipping sauce on a dining table setting.
Crispy onion bhajis paired with a tangy sauce, elegantly presented on a table setting

Ingredients for Perfect Chilli Sauce:

  • 1 red chilli, seeds removed and sliced

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced

  • 1 garlic clove

  • juice of half lemon

  • 50ml of water

  • 1/4tsp of salt

  • 1/4tsp of sugar

  • 1/4tsp of ground cumin

Mastering the Art: Steps to Achieve the Perfect Chilli Sauce

  1. Blend It Up: Add all ingredients to your blender and process until you achieve a smooth chilli sauce consistency.

  2. Let It Settle: Pour the sauce into a bowl, allowing any trapped air bubbles to rise.

  3. Ready to Serve: After the bubbles have dissipated, transfer the sauce to your preferred serving dish.

Unlocking the Secrets: Pro Tips for Bhaji Perfection

  • Slice Like a Pro: Whether you're using a mandoline or a trusty sharp knife, aim for thin, even onion slices. This not only ensures uniform cooking but also gifts your bhajis with that crave-worthy texture.

  • Banish Bitterness: Give your thinly-sliced onions a refreshing cold water bath for about 10 minutes. This simple step draws out any bitterness, leaving you with tender, sweet onions ready to shine in your bhaji mix.

  • Potato Perfection: Speed up cooking and achieve evenness by shredding your potatoes into fine matchsticks. Whether you're team food processor or team grater, the goal is uniformity.

  • Spice It Right: Freshness is the key to a flavour-packed bhaji. Opt for whole spices and grind them just before use. This releases their aromatic oils, ensuring every bhaji is a flavour explosion.

  • Bind & Fry: Stir in the egg just before you're set to fry, binding your mixture beautifully. And speaking of frying, always monitor your oil's temperature. Aim for that sweet spot of 170°C/340°F. Too hot, and you risk burnt exteriors with uncooked centres. Too cool, and you're in for an oily affair.

  • Batch Bliss: Resist the urge to overcrowd your pot. Fry your bhajis in small batches, ensuring each one cooks evenly and retains its shape.

  • Crispy Finish: Once golden, let your bhajis rest on a paper towel. This absorbs any extra oil, ensuring your bhajis remain delightfully crispy and light when served.

Note from the Chef

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Check out my other Indian recipes:

  • Chickpea Madras Curry - If you're looking for a flavourful and nutritious vegetarian meal, try making a chickpea madras curry that will fill your kitchen with delicious aromas and your taste buds with an explosion of spices.

  • Chicken Tandoori - Get ready to indulge in a flavour-packed meal with tender Chicken Tandoori, fragrant Vegetable Biryani, and refreshing Cucumber Raita - a perfect combination to try for your next home-cooked dinner!

  • Crunchy Cauliflower Bites - Dive in the irresistible combination of Crunchy Cauliflower Bites and Tikka Masala Dip, and elevate your snacking game to a new level - try it now!

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