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Onion Bhaji – Better than Indian Takeaway (Vegan, Gluten Free)

A pile of onion bhajis on newspaper with yoghurt raita on the side

Have you had too many bad experiences with Onion Bhajis? Too greasy, too bland, not cooked on the inside? Unfortunately, onion bhajis from takeaways or restaurants can often be a let-down. However, when they’re cooked correctly, they’re so good that you’ll just keep coming back for more! My recipe will teach you how to make flavoursome, crispy and spicy onion bhaji that will finishing the whole batch and wanting more – every single time!

Thin slices of sweet and mild onion are spiced with crushed ajwain, earthy golden turmeric, fiery green chillis, citrusy coriander and a hint of asafoetida to amp up the onion flavour. Mixed with nutty, savoury chickpea flour and fried to golden-brown perfection. Sprinkled with chaat masala and dunked in a gorgeous fresh chutney or raita to finish. Can anything be better better?

Get ready to make the tastiest Onion Bhaji of your life – better than takeaways at half the cost.

Crispy onion bhaji sprinkled with coriander on newspaper sheets

What are Onion Bhaji?

If you’re not familiar with Indian food, you may not know what Onion Bhaji are. These delicious street food snacks can be best described as onion fritters. Finely sliced onions are mixed with spices, chickpea flour and herbs to make a thick mixture. This batter is then roughly shaped into fritters which are then either deep fried, air fried or baked into Onion Bhaji.

Onion Bhaji is the British name, popularised by BIR (British Indian Restaurant) curry houses. In India, these delectable treats are called Kanda Bhaje, Kanda Bhajiya, Onion Pakora or Pyaaz Pakora (Pakoda) depending on the state within India. Whatever you call them, they are scrumptious!

Onion Bhaji are Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free & Nut Free

The fact that this Onion Bhaji recipe is Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free, and Nut Free makes them the perfect starter/snack for almost everyone; they’re suitable for people with a wide range of dietary requirements and allergies.

Although Onion Bhajis bought from a restaurant or takeaway may include egg – thereby making them not suitable for vegans – my recipe is completely whole-food plant based. It only requires chickpea flour, spices, fresh herbs, and of course onions!

A lot of recipes on the web opt for Plain Flour (All Purpose Flour/Maida) instead of Chickpea Flour (Gram Flour, Besan). I highly suggest following this recipe and using chickpea flour. Not only is this the authentic choice, it also contributes a deliciously nutty flavour to the bhajis and makes them completely gluten free. You can source chickpea flour in your local Asian supermarket or buy it online.

A pile of crispy onion bhaji with coriander on newspaper sheets with raita in the background

Tips to make the best Onion Bhaji

  • Finely slice the onions. Having large chunks of onions will make it harder to shape your onion bhaji, and prevent the mixture from sticking together quite so well. You can use red, white or brown onions.
  • Use chickpea flour, not plain flour. Chickpea flour will give your onion bhaji a nutty flavour and a light texture. Plain flour often makes onion bhaji stodgy and heavy, which should be avoided.
  • Mix the onions and spices before adding water. Mixing the onions with spices before adding water has multiple purposes: it ensures that the spices coat the onions evenly, it marinates them, and most importantly it draws out excess moisture from the onions. This is important because we need as little moisture as possible for really crispy onion bhajis.
  • Let the mixture rest for 5-10 minutes. After you mix your onions, spices and flour together you should let the mixture rest for 5-10 minutes before adding water. You can use this time to heat your oil for deep frying, or preheat your oven. The resting time is vital to allow the salt enough time to draw moisture from the onions.
  • Make small Onion Bhajis! Although the ones that we get from the takeaway or restaurants tend to be rather large, home-style onion bhajis are considerably smaller. This has multiple benefits. First, it makes certain that your onions, batter and spices on the inside of the onion bhaji will be thoroughly cooked. Second, it means that you will have to use less oil when frying the onion bhaji. Win win!
  • No baking powder or soda. You’ll see this ingredient used a lot in recipes. There is absolutely no need – these will be light and crispy without it.

Can you Air Fry or Bake Onion Bhaji?

Okay – let me put a disclaimer. There truly is nothing quite like deep fried Onion Bhaji. The crispiness is just out of this world without being greasy (if cooked correctly!). However, if you want a good compromise between great flavour and healthiness, then air frying might be the way to go.

To air fry Onion Bhaji, preheat your air fryer to 200 C for 10 minutes. Once hot, brush the air fryer basket with oil and carefully ladle small dollops of your Onion Bhaji mixture into the basket. Be careful to space them out well, so none are touching. Brush the top of the bhajis with oil and air fry for 5 minutes. Rotate the bhaji, brush with oil again, and air fry for another 5 minutes. Check the doneness and cook for a few minutes extra if necessary. Serve hot.

To bake Onion Bhaji, preheat your oven to 200 C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and brush a little oil over it. Carefully dollop small portions of your bhaji mixture onto the parchment paper and bake for 25 minutes. Check halfway to brush a little oil on top if needed, and cover if getting too browned.

A crispy onion bhaji tore open revealing a light yellow inside. On a newspaper sheet with raita in the background

This Recipe Is …

  • Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Soy Free & Nut Free
  • Perfect for snacking, picnics, pot lucks, Bollywood nights & Indian feasts
  • Quick and easy
  • Authentic, just how the recipe is made in India
  • Crispy, crunchy and addictive
  • Budget friendly and inexpensive – costs £0.30 – £0.40 to make a batch of 8
A pile of onion bhajis on newspaper with yoghurt raita on the side

Onion Bhaji - Better than Indian Takeaway (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Yield: 8 Onion Bhaji
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

The best Onion Bhaji are made from finely sliced onions with a crispy, golden & perfectly spicy batter. Better than any takeout, plus Gluten Free and Vegan!

Ingredients

  • 230g Onion, finely sliced
  • 2-3 Green Chillis, finely chopped*
  • 3-6 Strands Fresh Coriander, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp Ajwain Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Small pinch Hing / Asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Ginger Paste (optional)
  • 5 tbsp Chickpea Flour / Besan (30g)
  • 2 tbsp Water
  • Neutral Oil, to deep fry

Instructions

  1. Mix the ingredients. Add finely sliced onions, green chillis, and fresh coriander to a large bowl. Next add ajwain seeds, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, hing, and chickpea flour. Mix well using your hands so everything is equally distributed and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, preheat the oil in a large Kadai/Wok or Deep Frying Pan.
  3. Make a batter. Once rested, add water a little at a time. Mix well with your hands to make a thick batter.
  4. Fry the bhaji*. Once the oil is hot (test this with a chopstick or wooden spoon - the oil should lightly bubble against the wood), take a small piece of batter. Gently squeeze it together using both hands to make a ball, and very carefully lower into the oil. Repeat for all onion bhaji, making sure to not overcrowd the pan.
  5. Fry until golden and crispy, then carefully remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle chaat masala (optional), and see serving options below.

Notes

* Adjust this depending on your spice tolerance

** See instructions for air frying and baking above.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 137Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 196mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

Please post a photo on Instagram and tag @ohmyvegofficial! Alternatively, leave a review & comment on my blog 💚

What is the cost to make Onion Bhaji?

Please note that these costings are based on UK prices (2022) across budget supermarkets. Additionally, it is also often more cost effective to buy your spices in bulk from your nearest Asian supermarket.

A crispy onion bhaji sitting on a Maharashtrian newspaper sheet

How to serve Onion Bhaji

Onion Bhajis are best served as a starter to an Indian feast in company with dishes like Bhindi Masala, Batata Rassa, Chana Masala or Palak Paneer, alongside Garlic & Coriander Naan and Dal Tadka.

In India, Onion Bhaji (or Kanda Bhaje, Pyaaz Pakora) are often eaten as street food with raita, coriander chutney, tamarind chutney, or even humble tomato ketchup! I love to sprinkle some chaat masala over the top.

On rainy days, it’s customary to make large batches of Onion Bhaji and eat them with a big glass of Masala Chai (Indian tea). Comforting and cosy on cold days, the crispy snacks provide a perfect pick me up!

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