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Onion Bhajis

Discover the joys of this traditional Indian fritter

The combination of chickpea flour and rice flour gives these bhajis, with their crispy spidery legs, an addictive texture. I like to use a combination of brown and red onion, but any will do. — Caroline Griffiths, author of The Vegetable: Recipes That Celebrate Nature



  • 1 brown onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 small red chile, chopped, plus extra to garnish
  • 1 Teaspoon ground turmeric, plus extra to garnish
  • 1 Teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 Teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 Cup besan (chickpea) flour
  • 1/4 Cup brown rice flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
  • Peanut oil, for deep-frying
  • Plain yogurt, to serve


Put the onions in a mixing bowl. Add the chile, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and salt.

Using one hand, massage the onion mixture for 1–2 minutes, until the onion starts to soften and the juices start to run from the onion. Stir in the cumin seeds and lemon juice.

Sift the flours and baking powder over the onion mixture and mix well until combined. Add about 1/4 cup water to the mixture to make a smooth batter that coats the onion. Stir in a little more water, if necessary — the mixture should not be thick.

Fill a wok or deep wide medium-small saucepan no more than one-third full with peanut oil. Heat the oil until it reaches 180 degrees C (350 degrees F) on a cooking thermometer, or a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden in 15 seconds.

Working in batches, add heaped teaspoons of the onion mixture to the oil and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until the batter is a deep golden color and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel while cooking the remaining bhajis.

Serve warm with yogurt, sprinkled with a little extra turmeric and chopped chile.

Recipe excerpted from The Vegetable: Recipes That Celebrate Nature by Caroline Griffiths and Vicky Valsamis (Smith Street Books, 2017)