First posted on September 5, 2009 by Alan

By overwhelming popular request (a full 20% of my readership!) my recipe for onion bhaji that I made yesterday and mentioned on Facebook :

3 onions, of average size, halved, then sliced, and  lightly sauteed over low heat in a nob of butter, until soft and translucent, do not brown. Add garlic – lots. (lots is the standard amount for garlic when I cook, except in custard). ( I used flakes as I am out of fresh and will not buy more until I return) .at a guess I would say about an egg cup full of flakes, crushed in my hand.. Stir in until garlic softens but do not burn it. LOW heat.
Add 1 (heaped)  teasp of ground coriander  and a little less than half that of ground cumin. The standard ratio of coriander to cumin is supposed to be 2:1,  however I also added a quarter teaspoon of whole cumin seeds, because I like them.
I added  six or seven whole (dried) chillis chopped up and for good measure I added a certain amount of chilli powder. Enough to make sure the bhaji would definitely be spicy.  ..
1 good teaspoon of tumeric. After all that I went further into experimental mode and added a  3/4 teaspoon of masala. and half a teasp of mustard powder. (why not?)
Stir a bit more, cooking on low for a minute or three, until the spices are cooked into the onion, the mix is fragrant and the neighbouss look over the fence.  Turn off the gas and leave the pan to cool.
In a bowl put three rounded desertspoons of flour: that is, one per onion. The original recipe suggested 5 onions and five tablespoons flour, so I extrapolated.   I don’t have a tablespoon, so I rounded a dessertspoon.
( Should be chickpea and riceflour,  but I could not find any in the local shops and I could not be bothered going into Suva for it. I used standard white flour.  I am sure it would be better with chickpea flour..  To do..)
Add enough water to make a thick paste, add a teaspoon of salt. and a dessrtspoon of tomato paste.  Mix with  whisk, then add more water until the batter is smooth and semifluid. Total water should be less than a quarter cup, at a guess, but who measures these things?
I toyed with the idea of lightening the mix with a tad of baking powder, but decided against it, as it was not mentioned in the recipe.  However I am convinced that the bhaji I buy sometimes from the vendors had been made with it. On the other hand they are a bit cake-ish, or dumpling-ish, because they dont have nearly as much onion as this. I may try using an egg too, That would lighten it a bit maybe.  But I digress…
Mix the spiced onion into the batter.
Now comes the agony of decision:  Bake, shallow fry or deep fry?  Due to laziness I picked frying, and due to low oil reserves, I went for shallow fry,  It worked, I cooked two dessertspoonsfull per bhaji. I used a lower flame, to be sure I did not burn them but I had to flatten the bhaji mix  in the pan to ensure they cooked through.    So they came out more like fritters.   Not that that made any difference to the taste or texture as far as I can tell.  I fried them in a drizzle of canola until dark golden brown, and the protruding bits of onion were crispyish.  they were a little oily anyway.
Drained and cooled slightly in a blank newsprint paper towel, then served (first batch) with lime pickle, and (second batch) with tamarind sauce. Hard to decide which i preferred.  The interesting observation was that the bhaji made it seem tha the lime pickle was not very hot.
The mix made 9 bhaji of reasonable size, and served me for dinner and supper at midnight before bed.
I thought they were pretty good. Shall definitely do them again, but will inevitably experiment.  .

About Uisce úr

Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.
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4 Responses to Bhaji

  1. Alan says:

    200 g (7 oz) chick pea flour (gram flour)
    1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
    ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
    1½ tablespoons Tikka Masala Paste
    250 g (9 oz) onions, sliced
    1½ tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
    juice of ½ lemon
    salt, to taste
    water as required
    vegetable oil for deep frying

    In a bowl mix together the onions, lemon juice, garlic, turmeric powder (if using), fresh coriander and Patak’s Tikka Masala Paste.
    Add the chick pea flour and water a little at a time until all the onions are coated well. The mixture should not be a batter but should stick and hold together well.
    Heat the vegetable oil on a medium flame or in a deep fat fryer. Once the temperature has reached around 180°C, make a loose dumpling and drop into the hot oil.
    After a few minutes turn the bhajia over and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper.
    Taste the bhajis and adjust the seasoning if required.
    Make small dumplings with the remainder of the mixture and deep fry in batches until the bhajis are cooked through.
    Serve with Patak’s Mango Chutney and Patak’s Raita for a great tasting snack.

  2. Alan says:

    Gujerati-style onion bhaji

    4 large onions, sliced into strips
    2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
    1 tablespoon of grated ginger (if you only have dried ginger powder, use 1/4 teaspoon)
    2 tablespoons of yogurt
    1.5 cup of gram flour (a delicious substitute would be fine corn meal)
    1.5 teaspoon of salt
    1 teaspoon garaam masala
    1 teaspoon crushed cumin
    a small handful of parsley leaves, chopped
    1 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
    fresh curry leaves (optional)
    chopped green chilies (optional)
    Enough oil for frying
    Tamarind dipping sauce

    1/4 package of tamarind pulp
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoon sugar
    1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
    1/3 cup of water
    Method of tamarind dipping sauce:

    Soak tamarind pulp with hot water until soft and pulp is soft and squishy. Squeeze as much pulp out and discard the seeds/sacs.
    Mix everything together and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
    onion-bhaji-mixtureMethod for onion bhaji:

    Put your sliced onions in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
    In another mixing bowl, mix all the other ingredient in with a spoon. You will get a sandy looking mixture and that’s fine.
    Pour the flour mixture into the bowl of onions and with your hands, really work the flour into the onions. Don’t be afraid of squishing it because you want the onions to sweat, the juices will transform this dry-looking mixture into a workable paste. Just remember that if you feel it’s too dry, leave the mixture for 10 minutes to let the onions sweat and then mix again. If it’s still too dry, you may add 1 tablespoon of water. This genius method is what gives this onion bhaji recipe it’s incredible flavour as there is no dilution, only onions and it’s natural juice.
    Once you get the onion bhaji mixture into a nice workable paste, they should hold their shape if you scoop them up with a spoon. Heat a deep pan with vegetable oil. You want to have about 1-inch of oil in your pan for frying.
    Fry up scoops of onion bhaji (you can decide on how big you want your bhaji to be) until they are golden and crisp and drain the excess oil to keep the bhaji crispy for longer periods of time.
    Eat with the tamarind dipping sauce.

  3. Alan says:

    2 large onions, sliced thinly
    200 g chickpea flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    2 tablespoons rice flour
    1 teaspoon turmeric
    1/2 teaspoon black onion seeds
    1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon cumin, ground
    1/2 teaspoon coriander, ground
    100 ml water
    750 ml vegetable oil

    Put the vegetable oil into a large pan and heat over a medium to high heat.
    Make the batter: In a large bowl, add the chickpea flour, baking powder, rice flour, turmeric, black onion seeds, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and the water. Mix together well and then add the sliced onion – mix the onion through until well coated.
    Check the temperature of the oil by dropping a small cube of bread in – it should brown fairly slowly – not burn or go dark brown straight away.
    Carefully drop spoons of the bhaji batter in to the oil, do NOT overcrowd as they will stick together. Fry them in small batches for 1 to 2 minutes until they are a golden brown and crispy. Remove them with a slotted spoon and allow them to drain on a paper covered plate in a warm oven.
    Repeat until all the bhaji batter is finished and they are all cooked.
    Sprinkle over a little salt and serve straight away with coriander chutney or cucumber raita.

    Read more:

  4. Eric the Duck says:

    Homemade onion bhajis are well worth the effort, they’re great as a starter for an Indian feast.
    2 free-range eggs
    3 onions, sliced
    120g/4oz plain flour
    1 tsp ground coriander
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra if required
    Preparation method
    Beat the eggs in a bowl.
    Add the onion rings and mix well.
    Add the flour, ground coriander and cumin seeds and stir well to combine.
    Heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan over a medium heat. When hot add a large spoonful of the bhaji mixture and fry for 30-45 seconds, until golden-brown.
    Turn the bhaji over and fry for a further 30 seconds, until crisp and golden-brown all over. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
    Repeat with the remaining bhaji mixture, replenishing the oil in the pan if it runs low and allowing it to heat up again after a new addition.

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