Onion pakora

by Rachel Kelly

A popular fried, Indian snack

Onion pakora (also known as bhajia, depending on which part of the Indian sub-continent you are from), are a popular Indian snack or street food. These fried vegetable fritters were shown to me by the mother of a friend of mine, who was only too happy to teach me how to cook her favourite Indian dishes when her own children sadly showed no interest in learning whatsoever!

Ajwain seeds taste like a curious combination of thyme, oregano and star anise, they have a slightly fragrant medicinal flavour and are well worth seeking out.


2-3 onions, halved and sliced as thinly as possible
2 green chillies, very finely chopped
½ tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
½ tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin seeds, roughly chopped
½ tsp ajwain seeds
6 tbsp chickpea (gram) flour
½ tsp salt, or to taste
2 tbsp water
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying


Make sure that your onions are very finely sliced—a mandoline slicer does the job perfectly.

Place the sliced onions in a large bowl together with the green chillies, chilli powder, fresh coriander, lemon juice, cumin and ajwain seeds.

Sift the chickpea (gram) flour together with the salt, then sprinkle it over the sliced onion and massage it in well. The flour will become quite sticky as it combines with the onion juices. Add the water and mix well.

Heat the oil in a large, deep-sided saucepan. When the oil is hot, using your fingers or a tbsp, drop small dollops of the onion mixture into the oil. The dollops should be about 3cm across, otherwise they will be too big and not cook evenly. Gently fry until the pakoras are crisp and golden (about 2 to 3 mins). Fry in batches and try not to overcrowd the pan.

Drain in a sieve lined with kitchen paper over a small bowl. Serve immediately with tamarind or coriander chutney.

Recipe: Rachel Kelly