Onion Bhaji


I’m experimenting with gram flour at the moment.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this ingredient, gram flour is made from ground chickpeas, it’s a beautiful pale yellow, fine in texture and is predominantly used in Indian dishes.  That said, my first experiment involved a Sicilian dish: panelle.  Won’t be blogging about that though.  It tasted much like polenta and I don’t like polenta very much.

My second experiment were the following onion bhaji and in these gram flour redeemed itself.  These spiced Indian fritters are one of my favourite restaurant starters and I’m absolutely delighted that they are so simple to make at home.

Onion Bhaji

(makes 8 small bhajis)

1 cup gram flour

1 tspn turmeric

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp garam masala

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1 onion, sliced

1 garlic clove, chopped

Ground nut oil, ghee or other “neutral” oil

  • Mix together the spices and salt.  Add 2/3 of the mixture to the gram flour and sieve into a bowl.
  • Add a little water to the spiced flour and mix with a fork.  Add a little more, stirring continually until the mixture forms a stiff, smooth batter.
  • In a non-stick frying pan, heat a tablespoon of oil over a med-high heat.  Add the onion and fry briskly for one minute.  Reduce the heat slightly.  Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds.  Add the rest of the spices and stir well.  Continue frying for a couple of minutes until the onion has softened but not browned.
  • Add the fried onions to the chickpea batter and stir well.
  • Pour enough oil into the non stick pan to just cover the base.  Heat over a med-high flame.  Spoon blobs of the onion batter into the pan, leaving at least a couple of centimetres between each bhaji. 
  • Fry for a couple of minutes before turning and pressing the bhajis down to flatten to 1.5-2 cm thickness.  Fry for a further 3-4 minutes or until bhajis are golden brown and cooked through.
  • Remove from pan and blot excess oil. 
  • Serve with raita.

30 thoughts on “Onion Bhaji

  1. Looks good. When I get home tonight I’ll send you a recipe for sokka. Its a kind of giant chickpea flour pancake.
    Its got chickpea flour, olive oil, salt and rosemary.
    Its easy to make and yummy.

  2. Wow it looks delicious…I’ve never heard about gram flour and I suppose I won’t find here in Florence..maybe at some indian supermarket 🙂
    Thanks for the recipe and the so inviting photos.

  3. mmm I love bhaji! yes, they are so simple to make! i’ll try your version, too!

    Here’s a tip, though! Have you tried adding ajwain seeds to bhaji? they’re absolutely gorgeous, and really add a lot to the little fritters! ajwain smells a bit like thyme, and can be found in indian shops.

  4. Amazing that they are so easy to make …. I’m definitely bookmarking this and giving it a try – I keep seeing gram flour in the supermarket and wondering what I could make with it, now I know

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Always imagined that they were really tricky to make. Also assumed that they were deep fried (I have a slight fear of whole pans of hot oil!). I’m really tempted by this recipe. Thank you for enlightening me!

  6. Sara – Look forward to receiving it. 🙂

    Silvia – I know it’s used in Sicily so maybe you would get it in Florence? It has some other names: chickpea flour, besan, cici flour and chana flour.

    Maninas – Never heard of ajwain. Will keep a look out for it.

    Johanna – I was exactly the same. Bought some and it sat in the cupboard forlornly until this week.

    Antonia – I’m a bit scared of pans of hot oil too. Wouldn’t have made them if they had to be deep fried!

  7. Uh Oh, I knew it’d be bad to come look at these while I’m waiting for my dinner to finally get ready. I’m even more starving now. Those look great, but I’ve gotta admit I’ve never made my own bahjis, I always buy them. Maybe that’s another challenge to add to the ever growing list!

  8. Like you trying new flours, I am trying new oils. You ask about the coconut oil and I will get back to you on this one as it is new to me. The health benefits are super with this oil even though it is high in sautrated fat. It is a natural oil, as opposed to a hydrogenated oil. A doctor friend of mine has been researching it and suggested I try it. I am also reading “The Coconut Oil Miracle” by Bruce Fife. Anyhow, as I learn more I will let you know.

  9. i used gram flour by mistake in a cake recently because I’d run out of ordinary. I had lots of comments about how wonderful it was so won’t be confessing! Have also used it successfully as part of the ingredients for bread. do you think you can oven-cook the bhajias?

  10. You’ll like socca – it is easy to make.

    I’ve never had anyhing but stale, soggy bhaji’s (except for a meal at the Star of India in London a couple of years ago…yum food). These look great.


  11. my husband saw the photo and shouted ‘bookmark this’

    think i shall just hand him over the recipe today so he can make them himself! 🙂 they look great-not oily or soggy as you would find them at the counter and some restaurants

  12. I’ve never been fond of onion bhajis but I suspect it is because I’ve only had second rate ones when eating out – these look much nicer but I am thinking I probably need other vegies than onion – am i right in thinking green peas are often added – this would be my sort of thing!

  13. Jules – Thank you! Would go rather nicely with your curry, I think.

    Sylvie – I usually only have them in restaurants too. 🙂

    Claire – Glad to hear it!

    Deb – Just googled The Coconut Diet. Will be interesting to hear your verdict.

    Muffin – Really? I can’t imagine what a cake made with chickpea flour would be like! 🙂

    Lucy – My local Indian restaurant is excellent so my own bhajis had a lot to live up to.

    Pixie – That’s funny. I didn’t think the picture was that great!

    Johanna – Pakora has other vegetables in them. Onion bhajis are generally just onion and sometimes potato. I really like making onion the star of the show. It’s so often relegated to a support position. 🙂

  14. Yep I made the same discoery a couple of montsh ago – wonderful arent’ they – try adding a handfull of fresh mint as this makes them really fresh and brings out the spices too. they freeze nicely too (so make double), then cook in the oven from frozen. I deep fry mine because its a bit less messy and besides they cook so quickly (3 or 4 minutes) that I kid myself it’s no worse than shallow frying.

  15. OMG I so want these. There is a dearth of Indian restaurants in Cairo and am desperate to get back to Glasgow for a good curry. If I can get gram flour I shall have a go at these; they look so good and as long as I follow your instructions to the letter I know I shall succeed. PS when can we see the wedding cake?

  16. I love onion bhajis – and pakora!! I really like this recipe as they are not deep fried (too much hassle for me to do very often!)

    Try a sprinkling of dried fenugreek leaves – really adds something to the batter!

  17. I’ve always wanted to make onion bhaji! I’ve never got around to it though and I think that’s because I have a serious phobis of large amounts of oil! What did I never think of shallow frying them? Now I can see the results I’m definitely going to try them.

  18. Adrian – Love the mint idea. I avoid deep frying to cut down the fat and because I’m a bit scared of large amounts of hot oil!

    Aforkfullofspaghetti – Thank you very much. 🙂

    Shona – Let me know how it goes! Wedding’s on the 11th of next month so you’ll see the cake just after that.

    Holler – Enjoy!

    Kittie – I most certainly will try that out. 🙂

    Susan – It tastes gluey to me. Maybe I’m cooking it wrong?

    Cynthia – And how did it go?

    Helen – Have the same phobia and reckon it’s a healthy one. 😉

  19. I’m impressed!! Back home, they made them with raw onions though and it’s less hassle that way. Do try kadhi too – it’s the other classic dish with gram flour and absolutely delicious.

  20. Hi Wendy

    I adore bhajis too, and I try my own version now and again. An old Indain lady taught me a few years back how she made hers, using thinly sliced aubergine and fresh mint. Sublime.


  21. Mallika – Thank you! That means a lot coming from you. 🙂 Tried leaving the onion raw but because I wasn’t deep-frying they barely cooked at all and I’m not a lover of raw onion. Maybe I could have sliced them more thinly.

    David – Aubergine and fresh mint? Sounds wonderful. 🙂

  22. What a great looking recipe.

    Before I dash out to the kitchen and grind my dried chickpeas into flour using my coffee grinder (yes it really is that simple to make gram flour) or food processor (makes bigger amouns but takes forever apparently) I have a question.

    I am a raw food vegan so I was wondering if I could “cook” these in my dehydrator rather than frying them. Because it doesn’t get above 112F all the beneficial enzymes in the onion are preserved.

    My concern is more for the chickpea flour than the onion as uncooked chickpeas can be bitter & harsh.

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