This is a favourite starter in Indian restaurants around the world. It’s not complicated at all – the only thing you need that you may not have in your pantry already is some chickpea flour or ‘besan’. It’s widely available in most Indian grocery stores and has a wonderful nutty flavour to it that gives of a far richer flavour to any dishes, like this or pakora. So, if you’re a fan of onion, this is a nice alternative to onion rings! Enjoy!
2 large onions, sliced
5 tablespoons of chickpea flour (besan)
Pinch of ground chilli (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon salt
Approximately 3 tablespoons of warm water
Finely slice your onion
Separate your onion into slivers – remove large pieces, like the heart, if you want (keeping it in will add a bit of bite to the bhaji, as they won’t cook as quickly as the slices)
Mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl…
…And slowly add your warm water whilst stirring to combine
You want to create a thick paste (rather than a batter, like you would use with onion rings)
Add your onion and mix with the paste with your hands. Crunch the onion rings while combining to release some of the onion juice into the paste. If the onions aren’t combining with the paste then add in some more water, a tablespoon at a time.
Make small patties of onions and shallow fry over a medium heat in some vegetable oil (might be safer to use spoons rather than your fingers – sorry health & safety!). If the oil is too hot you’ll burn your onion – too cold and it won’t fry – a nice medium heat will mean you will cook the onion without burning it.
After about 30 seconds, gently press down with the back of a spatula
30 seconds of more frying and flip each bhaji over – fry for a further minute, pressing down gently at the 30 second mark (so, 1 minute each side – 2 minutes in total)
Drain and pat dry on some paper towels
Serve – traditionally you’d serve on shredded cabbage or other leafy green (we’ve used baby spinach) – serve alongside something sour, like lemon and tamarind paste, like we have, or something cooling, like a cucumber raita. Enjoy!