Curry Series – home-made Tandoori onion bhaji recipe

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!

Mr & Mrs Romance - curry series - onion bhaji title

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.

Mr & Mrs Romance - curry series - onion bhajis

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!

Mr & Mrs Romance - curry series - onion bhaji ingredients

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!

Images by Mrs Romance.


  • Reply April 30, 2014


    Oh Mr Smags LOVES bhaji! It’s the perfect snuggly Melbourne winter day for it too!

    • Reply May 2, 2014

      Mr Romance

      They’re pretty damn good, aren’t they, Smags (and Mr Smags)? Bring on the winter, I say!

  • Looks delicious, what a yummy winter recipe.

    • Reply May 2, 2014

      Mr Romance

      They’re so tasty, Kat. And what with Mrs Romance having that onion addiction of hers, these are very popular at the moment!

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