Finely sliced onion smothered in a simple, fragrantly spiced batter and fried to crispy perfection.
This recipe uses gram flour - which is a flour made from chickpeas. This means they're also naturally gluten free!
The gram flour is pretty inexpensive (and you can use it for my chicken pakora too!)
A really fantastic side dish or starter to serve with that Indian fakeaway!
We love a crispy onion bhaji dipped in sweet chilli sauce.
I find onion bhajis can be a little hit and miss when eating out. Sometimes they can be a little greasy and flavourless. But when they get it right? Oh yes!! That's when I eat too many and can't fit in the main course.
That perfectly crispy, slightly salty and mouth-wateringly spicy combo is what we're getting with this recipe.
📋 What do we need?
- Onions - use 2 large brown (or yellow) onions to make around 10-12 bhajis. Brown onions are best as they have a stronger onion flavour than white or red onions which mellows out during cooking to give the pakoras a sweet & savoury flavour.
- Gram (besan/chickpea) flour - gives the bhaji a mild, nutty taste and beautiful crunch. Plus it also happens to be gluten-free, so it's a great option if you have gluten-free guests or family members.
- Spices - we're going in with lots of lovely spices plus a little chilli heat and some dried coriander (cilantro) leaf.
- Bicarbonate of soda and cornflour (cornstarch). These ingredients help to lighten the batter, and to ensure the bhajis are crispy rather than having a heavy, thick crunch.
🔪 How to make Onion Bhaji
**Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post**
- Finely slice the onions - you can do this with a mandoline or a knife. I use a knife as I quite like having some bits of onion that aren't too uniform in size to give the bhajis a more rustic look.
- Place the onion in a bowl and add the spices, gram flour, cornflour (cornstarch) and bicarbonate of soda. Mix together to coat the onion.
- Add water a splash at a time and mix. Keep going until you have a thick batter on the onions.
- Take a rounded spoonful of the batter, place in your hands and squash it together to compact it a little, then place back on the spoon and lower into a waiting pan of hot oil. Repeat, until you have 4-5 bhajis in the pan (you'll need to work in a couple of batches).
- Fry for 3-4 minutes, until golden. You'll need to turn them over once so they cook evenly.
👩🍳PRO TIP The gram flour can go a little hard if the batter is left to sit too long, so it's important to fry the bhajis right after mixing the batter.
Serve with sweet chilli sauce.
📺 Watch how to make it
🍲 Delicious Curries to serve with your
- vegetable oil for deep frying - – approx. 3-4 cups (720-960ml)
- 2 large onions - peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 green chilli - - finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp dried coriander leaf
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp ground fenugreek
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp garlic salt
- 130 g (1 ½ cups +2 tbsp) gram flour - - also known as chickpea flour or besan
- 1 tbsp cornflour - cornstarch
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda - - baking soda
- 135 ml (½ cup + 1tbsp) water
- 1 tbsp Freshly chopped coriander
- Sweet and sour sauce or sweet chilli sauce - for dipping
- Heat the oil in a wok or large heavy-based pan over a medium heat. You need at least 3 inches of oil, but do ensure the pan or wok is less than half full of oil as you don’t want it to bubble over.
- Place the sliced onion in a bowl.
- Add the 1 tbsp minced ginger, the chopped green chilli, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp dried coriander leaf, 1 tsp chilli flakes, 1 tsp ground fenugreek, ¾ tsp salt, ½ tsp garlic salt, the 130g (1 ½ cups + 2tbsp) gram flour, the 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) and the ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda.
- Mix together to coat the onion.
- Add in the 135ml (½ cup + 1 tbsp) of water, a splash at a time, until you have a thick batter that coats the onion. You may not need all of the water.
- Test the heat of the oil by dropping a little blob of the batter in the wok. It should sizzle and rise to the top.
- Carefully add a rounded tablespoon of the onion bhaji mixture into the oil. I like to squeeze the mixture in my hand to compact it, then put it back on the spoon to lower it in the oil – this will help give you a uniform shape that doesn’t fall apart in the oil.
- Repeat, so you have 4 or 5 bhaji’s frying at the same time (don’t add more than this as the oil may boil over and also too much mixture will cool the oil – resulting in greasy bhajis that aren’t as crisp).
- Fry for 3-4 minutes until the coating is dark golden brown.
- Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
- Repeat, frying further bhajis, until the mixture is used up.
- You can keep cooked batches warm in a warm oven (approx. 130C/250F) whilst cooking the remaining bhajis.
- Once all of the onion bhajis are cooked, place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with fresh coriander.
- Serve with sweet and sour or sweet chilli sauce.
Reheat on a tray (uncovered) in the oven at 200C/400F for 5-6 minutes, until hot throughout. Can I freeze them? Yes, make the bhajis, then cool, cover and freeze for up to a month. I find it's best to freeze them on a tray, so they're not touching, then after a couple of hours (when they're fully frozen), transfer to a sealed container or freezer bag. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat on a tray (uncovered) in the oven at 200C/400F for 5-6 minutes, until hot throughout. Ingredient swaps
- Use red onions for a milder onion flavour and hint of colour.
- Add grated carrot, parsnip or courgette (zucchini) for extra veg
- Change up the spices if you fancy a change - add more chilli flakes to make them hotter, swap out the cumin and coriander for your favourite curry powder, add more ginger for a bit of zing!
I've estimated ⅓ cup of oil is absorbed during the frying process - you may find your onion bhajis absorb more or less than this.
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