The onion bhaji, a classic staple starter in most Indian restaurants, is usually made by frying sliced onions in a spiced batter which can be quite greasy and heavy. I was inspired by Tracy (@TheLittlePK) to give this recipe a go and make my own version of it.
The original recipe had turmeric, cumin and coriander seeds, ingredients not a staple of the student pantry. I changed the spicing around slightly, using garam masala, which contained all 3 of the above, and adding garlic as I am a big fan of garlic!
Spices are a fantastic way of flavouring your food without adding extra fat, sugar or calories and they are a cheap purchase as they will last you a long time. There’s no need to go for fancy brands either, supermarket own brands will suffice.
This recipe is a perfect way to use up those carrots at the bottom of the fridge which you have no idea how to use them besides doing a carrot cake or just chucking them into a stew.
3 onions (red or white), thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp mild curry powder
½ tsp hot chilli powder
¼ tsp table salt
2 tbsp tomato puree
6 tbsp water
90g plain flour
Prepare the onions and carrots. In a frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the oil and the onions and carrots and stir-fry for around 5 minutes until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add all of the spices and salt to the carrot onion mix and continue to stir-fry for a further 6-7 minutes until the spices are well distributed and the onion and carrot have softened slightly. Transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment and give the parchment a light grease to stop the bhajis sticking to the tray. In a small bowl, mix together the tomato puree with the water. Set aside.
Add the flour to the cooked vegetables and use a fork to stir it through. Add around 80% of the tomato puree mixture and you should notice a batter-like mixture surrounding the carrot and onion forms. Leave to sit for 5 minutes.
Use an ice cream scoop to divide the bhaji mixture up. I filled the ice cream scoop three-quarters full which gave me around 10 bhajis but feel free to make them slightly smaller.
Bake the bhajis for 20 minutes and the tops should have started to brown and get crisp. Push the bhajis off the parchment with a knife and flip them around so that the underside can set too; this takes around 10 – 15 minutes in the same oven.
Serve the bhajis with a cooling cucumber raita as a snack or as a side dish to an Indian meal. These would be a fantastic vegetarian accompaniment to go with my Aubergine and Potato Curry.