I love cooking curries – especially for Mrs Romance. Over the next few Wednesdays I’ll be telling you how I cook my favourite Indian dishes in our curry series. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
When I go out for a curry, I love the little sundry side dishes you can get. The pakoras, the chutneys, the samosa. But when it comes to onion bhajis, I’m an absolute sucker!
I don’t like the weird round floury lumps that look more like an oniony cricket ball than a bhaji. I like mine flat, crispy on the outside and tender in the middle.
I don’t know how the Indian restaurants make them quite so delicious… I’ve got a sinking suspicion it’s got something to do with deep-frying them in vats of clarified butter.
The problem here is three-fold: 1) I don’t have that much clarified butter, 2) I don’t think my heart would stand up to eating that kind of deep-fried food and 3) I don’t have a deep fryer.
Therefore, I shallow fry my onion bhajis and I prefer to use rice bran oil, which doesn’t react to heat as much as other oils and so doesn’t release trans-fats or free radicals. It also makes this dish vegan, not to mention gluten-free.
Home-made Tandoori Onion Bhaji
Serves 6 – takes about 35 minutes
Here’s what you need:
- 1½ – 2 large brown onions – halved then sliced thinly
- 1 large clove of garlic – chopped
- Small bunch of coriander leaves – chopped
- ½ cup besan/chickpea flour
- ¾ cup water
- 1tsp curry powder – I used Keen’s
- 1tbsp Monika tandoori curry paste
- 1tsp chilli powder (optional)
- Pinch of salt
- Oil – enough to cover the base of a large, heavy-based frying pan
Here’s what you do:
- Mix the besan flour, curry powder, tandoori paste and chilli powder with the water and whisk until it’s a smooth, orangy brown batter similar to pancake mix.
- Add the garlic, coriander and onion making sure you separate the onion out so there are no clumps of onion.
- Season with salt (I also added several drops of Tabasco sauce too but that’s because I’m obsessed with the stuff!) and combine until all the onion is well-coated.
- Heat the oil on high in your frying pan. Test the heat by dropping a bit on onion in – when it sizzles and bubbles, it’s ready.
- Spoon the mix into the pan to make 4-inch diameter rounds. Don’t add too much batter mix in top – there’ll be plenty on the onions.
- Leave the bhajis to cook for about 5-7 minutes so they have a nice crispy surface before trying to flip them.
- When you do turn them, make sure they’ve gone a dark colour – even black in places.
- Drain them on a piece of paper kitchen towel and serve with a cucumber and dill raita, or a slice of lemon or lime.
For extra crunch, double fry the bhajis. You might need a bit more oil in the pan for this.
You can also deep fry the bhajis in a pan or deep fryer.
This recipe makes 6-8 onion bhajis depending how big you make them. One per person is plenty – though everyone will want to eat more, trust me!
You can cook these up before guests arrive well ahead of time then fry them up again when everyone’s ready to eat. They’ll give your kitchen a lovely curry onion smell and have your friends salivating!
I also like to fry up a few sage and bay leaves in the oil before cooking the bhaji. The herbs give the oil a lovely savoury hint and smell great too.
This is a similar recipe to my gluten-free corn fritters – with a curry twist of course!
These are only side dishes or entrées – for other curries to serve as main meals, check out our curry series to inspire a feast from the subcontinent.
What’s your favourite side dish for a curry? Pakora? Samosa? Onion bhaji? Tell us in the comments!