We have long been a nation of onion Bhaji lovers and there is no better time to make these wonderfully joyful, deeply flavourful fritters at home! The best news is that they are ridiculously easy to make and, as always, versatile and perfect for using up whichever ingredients you may have at home. Now, don’t be deterred just because you don’t have onions, Bhajis or Pakoras (as they are properly known as) are incredibly adaptable and you can use carrots, parsnips, any root vegetables or squashes and indeed any vegetables of any description that may need to be used up at home. They go great with a lovely yoghurt sauce and even brown sauce with a little honey to sweeten it makes the perfect tamarind-based dipping sauce. And why stop at eating them on their own, chuck them in a wrap or some kind of bread and enjoy as a sandwich with whichever sauces or chutneys you have in your store cupboards. Traditionally they are made using gram/chickpea flour but at present, I don’t have any so I used plain flour and you can use absolutely any flour you like to bind them.
2 large onions, peeled and cut into 1/2cm thick half-moons
6 tablespoons of flour and more if needed (you will need more if using gram/chickpea flour)
½ teaspoon of baking powder
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying (vegetable/sunflower oil is best)
Additional Ingredient Suggestions:
I used ½ teaspoon each of turmeric, ground cumin, chilli powder and paprika (not smoked) plus a tablespoon of garlic granules. You don’t need to have any of these but just get a little creative using what you’ve got at home in your spice rack. I also added a handful of fresh coriander and you can, of course, add a crushed clove of garlic and some chopped chilli too, if you wish. It all just adds flavour.
Bring a frying pan/sauce pan with an inch or so of oil, to frying temperature over a medium heat. Do not let it smoke, just warm it up for now.
Add the onions into a bowl and season with a very generous amount of salt and really working the salt into the onions. Allow to sit for 5 minutes and then stir again and add in your chosen spices and herbs and a generous amount of pepper and mix. Then put in the flour and work the mixture using your hands (because you will need to work the flour into the liquid that the onions have given out in order to make a little sticky batter coating). Add a couple of tablespoons of cold water and keep mixing the batter together until it’s sticky enough to clump. You can add more flour and more water if needed, so don’t worry, basically you want the mixture to be sticky enough that it is cohesive and can be fried in a portion.
Check the oil and increase the heat to medium-high temperature and give it 5 minutes before dividing the mixture roughly between 6-8 portions and dropping half the batch carefully into the oil, one at time and frying them for a couple of minutes before turning them over. They are literally done once deeply golden brown on both sides. Drain with a slotted spoon and place on a plate/tray lined with kitchen roll to blot off excess oil. Serve with spicy sauces and chutneys.