Onion Bhajis

As we start moving towards early spring I am considering how I can use overwintered stored crops. As the temperatures start to rise in early Spring stored onions will sprout. To counter this I try to make sure that I have used up the stores and Onion bhajis are a great way to do this!

To make the bhajis you start with filling a large jam pan with onions. I chopped these up into halves or quarters depending on the size. I then filled the pan with water and left it to simmer until the onions were soft. Once soft, I used a blender to produce the puree to which I added the spices. I believe this is the secret to really tasty bhajis. There are many ways to make the batter for bhajis, bhajis are just onions in batter afterall. This recipe uses plain flour, egg and water. An article in the Guardian suggests that a 2:1 ratio of gram (chickpea) to rice flour should be used to make the “perfect bhaji” and discusses how different regions of India, traditionally, make bhaji batters of different consistencies producing varying textures of bhaji.

I have tried a number of different methods and have found onion puree thickened with plain flour gives a great onion flavour. Gram flour is more traditional – that works well too!

In addition to the spiced onion puree you need a large quantity of thinely sliced onions. I have found using a food processor saves your sanity a little here.

Mix the puree and sliced onions together and add flour until it produces a ‘dropping’ texture. This just means thicken enough that it will fall off the spoon in a blob similar to a cake mixture

Deep fry a tablespoon full at a time in a flavourless oil (e.g sunflower) at 185 degrees Celcius until a deep golden colour. This is about 4-5 minutes. Our fryer is not very big and I can fit 4 spoonfuls at a time to produce 4 bhajis. If you cram too many in they will stick together. If this does happen, all is not lost as you can tease them apart and drop them back in the fryer for 30 seconds. 

This volume of mixture makes ALOT of bhajis; probably 100 at least. Only do this if you want to store them in the freezer. You can, however, reheat from frozen in the oven at 175 degrees Celcius for 15 minutes. You can cut down the volumes, by using a smaller pan for your puree and the same principles. 

Mountain of Onion Bhaji’s

  • About 40 large onions
  • 1kg plain flour or gram flour (ish)
  • Spices – equal quantities of black onion seeds, black sesame seeds, cumin seeds, paprika, cumin powder, garam massala, ground corriandor. (I add one heaped tablespoon of each).
  • 1 tbs salt, 1 tbs pepper (this seems like alot, but it is a huge volume to season)
  • 1 tbs chilli powder (optional, to taste really)
  • 2tbs tumeric
  • 5tbs mild curry powder
  • A head of garlic chopped or a good 2 tbs of a garlic puree
  • Oil for frying

Nb: the spice mix is 1:2:5 ratio as listed above if you want to add more spices or make smaller batches.


  1. Add about half the onions roughly chopped to a large pan (e.g jam pan) and cover with water. Simmer until the onions are soft and blend to a puree. Allow to cool.
  2. Add the spices, seasoning and garlic to the puree.
  3. Use a food processor to slice the remaining onions.
  4. Mix the sliced onions with the puree and add plain flour until a dropping (cake mixture-like) texture is reached. This amount used the whole 1kg, but just add until you achieve the right texture.
  5. Deep fry tablespoons in the oil at 185 degrees C.

You will need a very large bowl, and alot of patience, to cook the whole batch so it may be easier to split the spiced puree and do this in two batches. You could freeze the puree to use another time.
 I would recommend frying the first bhaji and then tasting it. You can always add more seasoning/spices before cooking the rest if needed. In this case, just add these proportionally in the 1:2:5 ratio.

e.g. If you wish to make a smaller batch – 5 large-ish onions and 1 tsps of the spices/seasoning (2 tsp of tumeric and  5tsps of the curry powder) will probably give you about 10-15 ish bhajis.