Bhajias are a spicy Indian snack similar to pakora or potato fritters, and a popular snack food that can be found for sale in street-side stalls, especially in dhabas on highways. The basic recipes consist of chopped onions incorporated into a dough made from gram flour, a variety of spices and sometimes fresh herbs, then fried until crispy and golden brown. This recipe from Madhur Jaffrey is simple, delicious and makes a satisfying appetizer for any Indian-inspired meal.
Madhur Jaffrey's Onion Bhajias
1 cup gram flour, also known as chickpea flour
4 tbsp natural yogurt
1 1/2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ginger, finely grated
3/4 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
3/4 tsp hot chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
12 fresh kari leaves, shredded
4 tbsp cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 large onion, halved and finely sliced
Vegetable oil, to deep fry
Tamarind Dipping Sauce:
1/4 package of tamarind pulp
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp of chili powder
1/3 cup of water
Soak the tamarind pulp with hot water until soft and squishy. Squeeze as much of the pulp out and discard the seeds sacs. Mix everything together and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
Place the gram flour in a large bowl and add 4 tablespoons of water. Add the yogurt and beat together to create a thick paste. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, chilli powder, garam masala, turmeric, curry leaves and chopped coriander. Mix well and add salt to taste. Fold the onion slices into the batter, making sure they are well coated.
Set a wok or deep pan over a medium heat and pour in about 1-inch of oil for deep frying. Test that the oil hot enough by dropping in a small piece of batter — if it sizzles immediately, it's ready. Have a small bowl of water on hand.
Once you get the onion bhaji mixture into a nice workable paste, they should hold their shape if you scoop them up with a spoon. Working quickly, take ping-pong ball clusters of onions and making sure they are well coated in the batter, drop three or four into the hot oil. Some will form spidery clusters, others may separate into individual slices. Cook the bhajias for 20-30 seconds before turning with a slotted spoon. Continue cooking for about another minute, turning occasionally, until they are crisp and golden. Remove and drain the excess oil to keep the bhaji crispy for longer periods of time. Wet your fingers, then pick up another pinch of battered onions and repeat the process until the batter is finished. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with the Tamarind Dipping Sauce.