I love onion bhajis, but I do begrudge spending so much on a shop-bought bhaji, that often seem to be very dry. Onion bhajis come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some are chunky, some are thin, there are round onion bhajis, triangular bhajis and even big fat onion bhaji balls. I prefer fairly thin, but large and round bhajis, it’s all personal taste!
I stopped buying them years ago though as I found that so many were simply so dry I nearly choked on them! Also, I felt that, for what you get, they’re poor value when bought as part of a takeaway meal.
Having said that, deep frying just isn’t on the agenda. I’ve never deep fried (since an accident with a chip pan when I was about 15) and have a fear of boiling fat on a hob. Instead, I oven bake bhajis.
It was many years ago that I first tried a packet of Onion Bhaji Mix – that was superb. It really had the exact and correct taste that I was after.
When making onion bhaji batter, it should be thick enough to stick to the sliced onion pieces, but still a little runny. It’s a thick batter you’re after. Onion bhajis use the same batter as a pakora, the different names are simply to name the end dishes.
I make a quick and simple onion bhaji mix that I’ve fried in the past, but now I prefer to oven bake my bhajis, which reduces the fat and cleaning up, plus my mini oven has a timer on it, which I find handy as I can potter about and not have to hover over the food like you do when something’s on the hob.
Note: although traditional onion bhajis use chickpea flour, this isn’t something I tend to have in the cupboard, so I’ve always used plain (all purpose) flour instead. I simply don’t have enough use for chickpea flour to find it worthwhile buying, it’d just languish in the cupboard, which is daft.
I buy a bag of onions at a time and chop/freeze the onions, you can use frozen onions in this recipe.
- ½ tablespoon of cornflour
- 75-100 ml tap water
- 2 medium onions, sliced into long strands (not chopped into square chunks)
- 60 grams plain flour, (2 oz). UK plain flour is US all purpose flour.
- ½ a teaspoon of cumin seeds
- ½ a teaspoon of ground coriander, fresh if you’ve got it (rare!)
- A squirt of spray oil.
- Mix together the flour, cornflour, coriander and cumin.
- Add the water slowly until you’ve got a smooth batter, thick enough to “stick” to the onions. Beat the batter.
- Pre-cook the onions, to soften them. You can use the microwave to pre-cook the onions by coating them in either water or oil and microwaving them for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the sliced and softened onions into the batter and stir until it’s all coated. The quantity of onions to batter will be that you’ve got a bowl of coated onions, not that you’ve got onions floating in batter.
- Line a baking tray with foil and use the spray oil, this will prevent the bhajis from sticking.
- Scoop out a heaped tablespoon of the onion mix, flatten it down on the baking tray and shape it into a bhaji (you can use cookie cutters as a guide to get the shape right if you wish, or just go “free form”).
- Spray the top of the onion bhajis.
- Place the tray in a pre-heated oven at 200˚C for 20 minutes, turning them once. They’re cooked when they’re the colour you like them to be. If you want them darker, cook for another 5-10 minutes, I prefer them lighter in colour.
There are other ingredients you can add to the mix, if you’ve got them. Why not try adding in ½ teaspoon of any/some/all of chilli powder, ginger or even turmeric.
What if you’ve no cornflour?
The cornflour is added to help to make the mix thicken – if you’ve not got it, then just reduce the amount of water and give it a go! I know it can be nigh on impossible to have the cupboard filled with ingredients you’ll only ever use 1-2x a year!
Once you’ve got a mix that you like, then why not make up a batch of it and keep it, ready mixed, in a small jar in the kitchen labelled “onion bhaji mix”
Once baked, you can store these onion bhajis in a covered container in the fridge for a good 3-4 days, or freeze them. Just put them into a freezer bag and chuck them in the freezer – depending on how many you’ve made you might wrap them up in portions, or separate them with a piece of greaseproof paper so you don’t have to defrost them all at the same time when you just want one or two.
I like to make onion bhaji tortilla wraps, so will always freeze them individually.