Sunday, 23 September 2018

Crisp and Spicy Onion Bhajis (naturally gluten free)

These are hand-on-heart the best onion bhajis I've ever tasted!

Crispy, with a moist fluffy middle and absolutely packed full of flavour, they are absolutely unbeatable when home-made!

We're fortunate to live not too far from a very multicultural city where there are some excellent Indian restaurants, and delis that you can buy wonderful treats from, so trying to nail a tasty, crispy onion bhaji was actually quite fun after many years of eating all kinds!

I rarely cook deep fried foods - in fact, I seem to buy a deep fat fryer maybe once a decade for a special occasion, and then it languishes unused for many years in a cupboard. However, since my daughter was diagnosed with coeliac disease, I have a new reason to develop recipes for things which
are difficult to acquire gluten free and/or free from cross contamination (so for example, onion bhajis are naturally gluten free, being made from gram flour, however they sometimes contain wheat flour, or even trickier to spot, if you buy them, they're often a 'may contain', or more often than not may have been fried in oil that has had other things fried in it containing wheat - so a bit of a no-no when you can't risk even a crumb of something containing gluten!).

Makes 16 to 20 - easily doubled. Warning - VERY more-ish! And no, we're not mentioning calories for this recipe...!

Wet ingredients
1 tbsp = 15ml 
  • 3 medium to large onions, halved and very thinly sliced (325g prepared weight - I like to use one brown onion and two red - brown onions are stronger)
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or crushed
  • 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 small green chillies, de-seeded if preferred, and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
Dry ingredients
  • 100g gram flour (chickpea flour, check gluten free if necessary)
  • 50g rice flour (check GF)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted in a dry pan until fragrant, and very lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (or 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder)
  • 1/2 tbsp ground turmeric 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
Further ingredients
  • Handful coriander (20g, leaves and stalks), finely chopped
  • 25 butter, melted (or use coconut oil if cooking dairy free)
  • Oil for deep fat frying

  • Deep fat fryer

1. Mix together all the wet ingredients in a bowl (not metal), stir thoroughly and set aside for around an hour to allow the salt to penetrate. If you're in a rush you don't have to, but this takes away some of the harshness of the onion and gives it more flavour. The onion will release a little liquid, leave it in there. You could use a mandolin or food processor to slice the onions, but it really doesn't take that long by hand.

2. Measure out and mix the dry ingredients together - you can make using all gram flour, but the mix of gram flour and rice flour gives a delightful crunch. Heat the oil in the deep fat fryer to 180C. Pre-heat an oven to very low, if you want to keep the cooked bhajis warm whilst you fry batches. (They also re-heat quite well).

3. Mix the coriander and melted butter into the wet ingredients, then stir in the dry ingredients until combined. Slowly add water a bit at a time, stirring, until the onions are in a thick batter, the consistency of thick double cream (I find around 100ml is needed - but be careful as if the batter is too thin it will just slide off the onions).

4. Drop heaped desertspoons of the mixture into the hot oil, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes each until a light golden brown, flipping over after about a minute and a half. Tip: if you let the mix slide slowly off the spoon into the oil, you will get a looser, more spread out bhaji with more tendrils of onion sticking out, or if you drop it in more quickly you will get a rounder bhaji with less bits sticking out. Experiment and see what you prefer - they initially sink to the bottom, but float back up quickly - in a normal, domestic deep fat fryer you'll probably fit in about 4 at a time. Do have something you can time them with to hand, so you don't overcook them.

5. Once cooked, drain on kitchen paper and transfer to a tray in a pre-heated oven on a low temperature to keep warm while you cook the rest. Alternatively, leave to cool, then put into an airtight container in the fridge, or freeze. To reheat, put into an oven on Gas Mark 5 for about 7 to 10 minutes until heated through. From frozen you'll need about 15 to 18 minutes. Keep an eye on them so the crispy bits don't burn.

6. Enjoy served with mango chutney and / or mint and yoghurt raita on the side to dip into. You can rustle up a quick cheat's raita by simply mixing a teaspoon or two of mint sauce into a ramekin of yoghurt, to taste! Scatter with fresh coriander if you want them to look purdy! Fancy making a batch of your own delicious mango chutney? Check out my recipe here.

Did you enjoy this recipe? If so, please give it a like, a share, or leave me a comment to help spread the word and recommend it to others! Thank you.

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