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Pyaz Bhaji - Indian style onion fritters




Pyaz Bhaji have absolute cult character in India and are an indispensable part of Indian food culture. These delicious fritters are as rich in flavor as they are in tradition.

These crispy golden onion Bhajis are packed with flavors of green chilies, red Kashmiri chili, garlic, ajwain seeds, turmeric, and of course, onions. Serve this epic dish as a snack with green chutney or ketchup, or serve it alongside your favorite Indian dish.

Pyaz Bhaji are naturally gluten-free and vegan, making them a wonderful bite for everyone. Pyaz Bhaji are enjoyed hot, fresh and stunningly crispy. Besan flour (chickpea flour made) adds texture, while rice flour ensures the bhajis are light and crunchy.

Bhajis are part of a unique and charming tradition in India. A rainy day (or rainy days) means it's time to prepare Pyaz Bhajis and Masala Chai. Something about the cool, damp weather makes hot, crispy bhajis taste even better, trust me. Whenever it rains, an unmistakable craving for Pyaz Bhajis and the warm homey feeling that comes with them immediately sets in.

Bhaji, also known as bhajiya or even pakoras in Hindi, are a fried takeaway classic at legendary Indian street food stalls. If not picked up at a stall, they are served at home as a satisfying snack at tea time.

While Pyaz Bhajis are enjoyed throughout India, this recipe originated in western India, the state of Maharashtra, where I grew up. As I mentioned earlier, adding rice flour to the besan is key to keeping the pancakes light and crispy.


Red onions (Lal Kanda / Lal Pyaz) - The difference between red, yellow and white onions is that the red variety tastes slightly sweet and mild, while yellow edible onions are sharper in flavor. White onions are comparatively sweeter and milder. Onion varieties also differ in appearance, texture, fiber and other contents.

Red onions are known for their rich fiber content. Red onions are believed to have the ability to eliminate certain types of cancer cells because they act as antioxidants. Red onions also prove to be beneficial for overall health as they have adequate iron and calcium content.

Chickpea Flour (Besan) - A staple in Indian cuisine, this gluten-free, high-fiber flour is made from dried, split brown chickpeas and has a nutty flavor.

Kashmiri Red Chili Powder (Lal Kashmiri Mirch) - Kashmiri red chili powder adds a brilliant red hue without adding too much heat. If you substitute red Kashmiri chilies for other chilies, watch the heat level.

Carom seeds (Ajwain) - small dried fruits of an herb plant. The seeds impart a pungent, bitter, complex flavor. This spice is widely used in Indian cuisine. Roasting in hot oil, butter or ghee as part of tadka mellows the pungency. Incidentally, this spice is said to contain a wealth of health benefits. The seeds are said to be especially good for aiding digestion and relieving cold symptoms.

Turmeric (Haldi) - Ground turmeric is a root spice and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. This spice imparts a peppery-woody flavor and adds a deep golden color to the dish.

Roasted Cumin Powder (Bhuna Jeera) - Roasted cumin powder is highly aromatic and has an intense flavor. Roasting brings out a darker and stronger aroma from cumin and has a more intense flavor than regular unroasted cumin. It is a bit nutty and gives a unique flavor to this recipe.


Ingredients for around 30 Bhaji

  • 450g red onions (approx. 4 large ones), thinly sliced

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 75g Besan (chickpea flour)

  • 3 tbsp rice flour

  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder

  • ½ tsp Bhuna Jeera (roasted and ground cumin)

  • 1 tsp ground coriander

  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric

  • ½ tsp Ajwain seeds (Carom seeds)

  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander greens

  • 800 ml vegetable oil

Instructions

Preparation in the wok

Place onion and salt in a medium bowl. Massage with your hands or with a silicone spatula to release the moisture.

Then add besan (chickpea flour), rice flour, Kashmiri chili powder, roasted and ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, ajwain seeds and coriander greens and mix well until a thick mixture forms.


Cook, stirring occasionally with a skimmer, until the bhajis are golden brown and crispy.

Remove with the skimmer and drain on paper towels. Repeat the process until all the onion mixture is used.


Serve PyazBhaji as a snack with Masala Chai or as an appetizer, hot from the wok, with spicy Dhaniya Pudina Chutney or ketchup as a dip.



Preparation in the Air fryer

Traditionally, bhajis are deep fried in hot oil. An alternative variant with the same delicious taste experience is offered by the air fryer. Nowadays I prepare my Pyaz Bhajis mostly in my air fryer and I am simply thrilled with the result. Taste and crispiness are fully preserved even with this method of preparation, and best of all, the bhajis are extremely easy to prepare and ready in just a few minutes.


Preheat air fryer to 200 degrees

Divide the onion mixture into 9 equal parts. Then take each part and press it down with your fingers to form a small patty (about 2cm thick and 4cm wide). Lightly spray the hot air fryer basket with cooking spray. Place the bhaji in the basket, leaving some space between each for airflow.


Air fry the bhajis for 10 minutes. Open the hot air fryer basket, lightly spray the bhajis with cooking spray and fry for another 2 minutes or until golden brown with crispy edges.


Tips

  • Be sure to slice the onions thinly and massage well to release some of the moisture.

  • Rice flour adds a crispy texture. But you can add half a teaspoon of baking powder instead if you don't have rice flour.

  • My bhajis are medium spicy, but you can add more or less chili depending on your taste.





I look forward to hearing from you...

...if you like my blog, my recipes inspire you and your curiosity for Indian cuisine has been piqued.


Feel free to give me feedback if you would like to share your cooking accomplishments or have a suggestion for improvement. I appreciate any kind feedback. Whether via the comment function, email, Facebook or Instagram (best tagged with #heutemalindisch and @heutemalindisch, then your cooking success can also inspire others).

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