Homemade onion bhajis

Curry is a fact of life in this household, but I’m always looking for new ideas i can make in a relatively authentic way. I recently had the opportunity to try out a restaurant in Leeds that I’d never been to before: Shabab, situated under the city train station. Paneer to die for, and that was just the starter.

So this week I found my local supermarket actually sells paneer now, and had a go making a curry from scratch. Went well. A day later, there’s one smallish meal left over. Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s great! Curry tastes even better the next day! But to cheer it up, I made a small batch of these onion bhajis, and ate so many of them while I was cooking that I couldn’t finish my meal in one go. *Shakes head in shame.

So, onion bhajis. We’re aiming for a crispy terracotta on the outside, soft and oniony in the middle, and everything cooked properly (harder to achieve with deep fat frying than you might think).

Delicious homemade onion bhajis
These babies were soft and light on the inside, crisp and oniony on the outside, and I didn’t overdo the chilli powder for once!

Homemade onion bhajis recipe

The first thing you have to understand is that it’s such an easy recipe, you can make it ‘by eye’, rather than weighing anything.

About 3 handfuls of gram flour/Besan -sieved (very important or you get lumps of uncooked gram)

3 small onions. Dice 2 and slice the third into half rounds. Or cut them how you like.

About 50ml cold water (fizzy is best) but you’ll probably need more.

A dollop of two of curry paste or curry powder.

1tsp cumin seeds if you’ve got them.

A chopped green chilli is a nice touch.

500ml sunflower or coconut oil.

1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, and add a couple of pinches of salt.

2. Dollop the curry paste or powder into the bowl and add the cumin seeds if using.

3. Using a fork or a small whisk, add cold water carefully until the mix is the consistency of a thick batter.

If you make it too liquid accidentally, just sift some more flour into the bowl (though it may be cheaper to start again if it is very watery).

4. Chop, dice and slice the onions and add them to the batter. Break the pieces up and give it all a good mix round.

5. Heat the oil in a pan. When it is hot enough to brown a piece of bread in a few seconds, add large dessertspoon-sized dollops of the batter to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium-low.

  • Mine took at least 6-8 minutes to cook.
  • Don’t cook too many at a time or they won’t cook properly.
  • You might need to unstick them from the bottom of the pan after the first 20 seconds of cooking. Just give ’em a nudge.
  • When you think they’re cooked, take one out and check it with a single slice into its heart. Have a good look inside.
  • If you see batter oozing, it isn’t cooked. Just pop it back for a bit longer. Another 2-3 mins, then test another.
  • A cooked bhaji has an almost cakey texture to it.
  • You might need to turn them if you don’t have enough oil. I use a silicone-coated set of tongs for that.
  • If they get brown and black before they’re cooked, turn the heat down.

6. Drop them on to kitchen towel, and serve up hot with yoghurt and mint dip.

Yoghurt and mint dip

2-3 tsps plain yoghurt

1 heaped tsp mint sauce

20-30ml water

1. Mix the three ingredients together carefully. Takes a little time to incorporate the water with the thick yoghurt.

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