Indian Onion Bhaji (Healthy Recipe) - Elavegan (2024)

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5 from 7 votes

Enjoy crispy, light, flavorful homemade Indian onion bhaji with just one tablespoon of oil per 4 fritters! Combining thinly sliced onions with a spiced chickpea flour batter and pan-fried until crispy, these onion fritters are gluten-free, egg-free, vegan, and a healthy appetizer, snack, or side!

Indian Onion Bhaji (Healthy Recipe) - Elavegan (1)

There’s nothing quite like a portion of onion bhaji to complete an Indian meal. Unfortunately, after one too many portions of grease-laden onion fritters when eating out/getting takeout that led to tummy upset, I started thinking I’d have to give them up. I assumed I couldn’t recreate their special crispy, crunchy, tender, delicious magic without a deep fryer. I’ve never been so pleased to say how wrong I was.

In fact, this healthy onion bhaji recipe is just as moreish and comforting as the original Indian fried onion fritter, with a tender middle and crisp outside, but made with just ONE tablespoon of oil per four bhajis. Plus, they’re super budget-friendly, ready in under 30 minutes, and addictive—ready to enjoy with vegan raita, chutney, or alongside curry and naan!

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What Is Onion Bhaji?

First up, a bhaji is a type of Indian fritter made from vegetables and are enjoyed as a snack or appetizer from street carts and restaurants. Indian onion bhaji (referred to as onion pakora, kanda bhaji, etc., depending on the region) combines finely sliced onion smothered with a flavorful spiced chickpea flour batter made with chili and fresh herbs, then deep-fried until tender in the middle and crisp on the outside.

For this bhaji recipe, though, I’ve ditched the deep fryer for a skillet, so you can enjoy onion fritters that are just as flavorful and have the perfect crispy texture but with a tiny fraction of the oil. Plus, you can freeze them to reheat later, so I highly recommend making a double (or even triple) batch!

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The Ingredients

All you need are 8 simple, inexpensive ingredients to make these amazing onion fritters.

  • Onion: You can use red, white or yellow onions for this onion bhaji recipe, but the latter are slightly sweeter.
  • Chickpea flour: (or flour labeled gram flour, besan flour, or garbanzo bean flour) This will help bind and create a naturally gluten-free batter for the onion bhaji while providing a ton of nutty, savory, slightly earthy flavor.
  • Nutritional yeast: (Optional) To add a nutty, cheesy, umami flavor depth.
  • Spices: I use ground cumin, turmeric, and salt to season the Indian fritters.
  • Water: You need just enough to make up the batter.
  • Lime juice: (or lemon juice) The acidity helps to add ‘brightness’.
  • Chili: I use green chillies, finely chopped. Feel free to adjust the amount.
  • Fresh parsley: Alternatively, use cilantro.
  • Oil: I like to use coconut oil, but other neutral cooking oils (like avocado oil or vegetable oil) also work.

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What Other Spices Could I Add To Onion Bhaji?

Depending on the region and between restaurants and families, there are plenty of different ways to season the onion pakora in India. Other popular spice additions to this onion bhajis recipe include:

  • Chilli powder or chili flakes (for extra heat)
  • Ground coriander
  • Garlic and/or ginger (fresh or ground)
  • Curry leaves
  • Garam masala
  • Fenugreek
  • Carom seeds

Please read the recipe card below for the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information.

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How to Make Onion Bhajis?

  • First, peel and then use a sharp knife or mandoline to slice the onions into thin strips and set them aside.
  • In a medium/ large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients (except the oil) and whisk into a medium-thick batter.

If the batter is too thick, add a little more water, one teaspoon at a time.

  • Stir in the sliced onion (I used my hands), mixing well until they’re fully and evenly coated in batter.

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  • Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat with at least one tablespoon of coconut oil. Once hot, use tongs to drop small portions of the battered onions into the pan (I cooked 4 fritters at a time).
  • Cook the onion bhaji for about 2-4 minutes per side until golden and crispy. Repeat with the remaining onion mixture and enjoy!

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What to Serve with Onion Bhajis?

If you plan to enjoy them as a snack or appetizer, then a mango chutney or yogurt-based dip, like Indian raita (which is yogurt and cucumber based), is definitely my preferred way to go.

Make more of an Indian feast with options like:

  • Naan bread
  • Roti or paratha
  • Basmati rice OR quinoa
  • Curry—like thisRed Lentil Dahl, Eggplant Chickpea Curry, or Potato Curry
  • Indian chai (tea)

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Storage Instructions

Store: While these onion bhaji have the best texture when freshly cooked, you can store any cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for around 3 days.

Freeze: Spread them across a baking sheet to flash freeze, then transfer them to a freezer-safe Ziplock for up to 2 months. Defrost them in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Reheat: For the best texture results, I recommend reheating the Indian fritters back in a skillet with a little oil. You could also reheat them in the oven or air fry them at 350F/175C until hot and crispy (about 10-15 minutes in the oven and 4-7 minutes in the air fryer).

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FAQs

Are onion bhajis vegan?

Traditionally, yes, they usually are, as the recipe combines onion, chickpea/gram flour, spices, and sometimes lemon juice. Some versions use eggs, but this recipe is gluten-free, egg-free, and vegan.

Can you eat cold onion bhajis?

Absolutely. They’re fully cooked and so safe to enjoy, cold or warm, though cold pakora/ bhaji won’t be crispy.

What can I use instead of gram flour for bhaji/pakora?

Technically, you could use regular all-purpose flour or a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend (the amount of water needed for the batter will vary). However, note that the chickpea flour adds a lot of flavor to the fritters, too, so they won’t taste the same and will probably need more spices.

Can I add other vegetables?

Feel free to substitute some onion for thinly shredded carrot or potato. Zucchini may also work but must be squeezed first to remove excess liquid. You could also add finely chopped spinach.

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Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Slice the onion thinly: So that it cooks in the brief cooking time. A mandoline slicer helps make it easy to cut thin, even slices.
  • For lighter, crispier bhaji: I’ve heard replacing a spoonful or two of chickpea flour with corn flour can make them light and super crispy.
  • Use fresh gram flour: It can become bitter if it’s old.
  • Tweak the flavors: You can tweak the levels of all the spices/ chili used. Cook a test bhaji to test if you want to increase any of the spices/chili.

More Vegan Fritters and Patties

  • Pajeon: Korean Scallion Pancakes
  • Cauliflower Fritters
  • Red Lentil Patties
  • Millet fritters with a creamy sauce
  • Air Fryer Falafel

If you try this easy, healthy homemade onion bhaji recipe, I’d love a comment and★★★★★recipe ratingbelow. Also, please don’t forget totag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebookwith@elavegan and #elavegan—I love seeing them.

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Indian Onion Bhaji

Author: Michaela Vais

Enjoy crispy, light, flavorful homemade Indian onion bhaji with just one tablespoon of oil per 4 fritters! Combining thinly sliced onions with a spiced chickpea flour batter and pan-fried until crispy, these onion fritters are gluten-free, egg-free, vegan, and a healthy appetizer, snack, or side dish!

5 from 7 votes

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Course Appetizer, Snack

Cuisine Indian

Servings 12

Calories 80 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 medium (300 g) onions sliced
  • 1 cup (100 g) chickpea flour
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1 tsp lime juice (or lemon juice)
  • 1 green hot chili pepper finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp parsley chopped (or cilantro)
  • 3 Tbsp oil for frying (I used coconut)

Instructions

  • You can watch the video in the post for visual instructions.

    First, peel and then use a sharp knife or mandoline to slice the onions into thin strips and set them aside.

  • In a medium/ large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients (except the oil) and whisk into a medium-thick batter. If the batter is too thick, add a little more water, one teaspoon at a time.

  • Stir in the sliced onion (I used my hands), mixing well until they’re fully and evenly coated in batter.

  • Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat with at least one tablespoon of coconut oil. Once hot, use tongs to drop small portions of the battered onions into the pan (I cooked 4 fritters at a time).

  • Cook the onion bhaji for about 2-4 minutes per side until golden and crispy. Repeat with the remaining onion mixture and enjoy!

Notes

  • Serve the onion bhajis immediately with a dip of choice - I recommend this cucumber raita!

Nutrition Facts

Indian Onion Bhaji

Serving Size

1 bhaji

Amount per Serving

Calories

80

% Daily Value*

Fat

4

g

6

%

Saturated Fat

2

%

Sodium

153

mg

6

%

Potassium

131

mg

4

%

Carbohydrates

8

g

3

%

Fiber

2

g

8

%

Sugar

2

g

2

%

Protein

3

g

6

%

Vitamin A

34

IU

1

%

Vitamin C

2

mg

2

%

Calcium

11

mg

1

%

Iron

1

mg

6

%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically

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Indian Onion Bhaji (Healthy Recipe) - Elavegan (2024)

FAQs

How healthy are onion bhajis? ›

It also contains fiber, manganese, nutrient B6, potassium, copper. Onion bhajia are very low in calories one more valid justification is to eat it as a guide to weight loss, likewise known to assist with killing microbes that might cause colds and other nasties throughout the cold weather months.

How many calories are in an Indian onion bhaji? ›

Nutritional Information
Typical ValuesPer 100gOne onion bhaji (46g**)
Energy1042kJ / 251kcal479kJ / 115kcal
Fat16.6g7.6g
Saturates1.3g0.6g
Carbohydrate17.0g7.8g
7 more rows

Are onion bhajis high in carbs? ›

Tesco Indian Onion Bhajis (1 bhaji) contains 10g total carbs, 7.8g net carbs, 7.6g fat, 2.7g protein, and 114 calories.

What is the difference between onion bhaji and onion pakora? ›

In the west, it is known as bhaji; in the south, it is called pakodi; and in north India, it is known as pakoras. And just like any other recipes, these differ widely. Both bhajis and pakoras are onion fritters and identical in terms of they are made with onions and a batter of gram flour.

Are onion bhajis high in calories? ›

FOOD FACT: One onion bhaji contains 190 calories and 16g fat, and a small vegetable samosa 110 calories and 6g fat.

Are onion bhajis bad for cholesterol? ›

I'm not suggesting that deep fried onion bhajis are healthy but these actually contain no cholesterol and you can always bake them too as I mentioned.

Can we eat bhaji during weight loss? ›

According to nutrition coach Ruchi Sharmma, your beloved pav bhaji can be had in your weight loss diet provided you turn it in to a healthy meal. For the unversed, pav bhaji is a popular Indian street food which is a tasty, crispy meal prepared with lots of vegetables and butter.

Do onion bhajis have protein? ›

Marks & Spencer Onion Bhajis (1 bhaji) contains 11.5g total carbs, 10g net carbs, 5.3g fat, 2.1g protein, and 99 calories.

How many calories are in a homemade onion bhaji? ›

Easy onion bhajis
NutrientUnit
kcal86
fat5g
saturates1g
carbs7g
4 more rows

Can diabetics eat onion bhajis? ›

Yes! Onions are low on carbohydrates and help in regulating the sugar level in the body.

Can you eat onion bhajis on a keto diet? ›

Onion Bhajis are one of the most common Indian snack. They are made from thinly sliced onions, marinated in chickpea flour batter, lightly seasoned, and deep-fried till crisp. On keto, most of the ingredients are acceptable other than Besan or chickpea flour.

Are onions OK on a low carb diet? ›

Onions. Onions are a pungent, nutritious vegetable. Although they're fairly high in carbs by weight, people usually consume them in small amounts because of their robust flavor. A half-cup (58 g) of sliced raw onions contains 5 g of carbs, 1 g of which is fiber.

Is pakora healthy or not? ›

Adding a few pieces of pakora to your diet will help you maintain a healthy weight. This snack is rich in fibre and is low in calories, fat, and other carbohydrates, so you won't feel any guilt eating it. Pakora is also a great snack choice for those who may have trouble eating vegetables.

Do you eat onion bhajis hot or cold? ›

Gently fried onion fritter spiced with cumin, turmeric and coriander. Can be eaten cold or reheated in the oven.

Why are onion bhajis not vegan? ›

Are onions bhajis vegan? Traditionally, yes, onion bhajis are suitable for vegans. They're made from a batter comprising of flour, baking powder, lemon juice and a variety of spices, not forgetting the onions themselves.

Is bhaji good for health? ›

As much as we wish the answer were yes, unfortunately, it's not. There is no doubt that pav bhaji is among the most beloved street foods in India, but it falls short in the health department. The bhaji is typically made with generous amounts of ghee and butter, making it a source of unhealthy fats.

What are the benefits of bhaji? ›

Dal bhaji is highly nutritious and beneficial for health! Also, it is easy to digest as combining dal bhaji also incases the levels of dietary fibres, soothes digestion and provides several other health benefits like preventing constipation, controlling blood sugar, reducing bad cholesterol, etc.

Is homemade bhaji healthy? ›

No, pav bhaji is not healthy. But you can make modifications to the recipe and can prepare a healthy version. You can add whole grain pav, use butter, potatoes, cauliflower, green peas, carrots, onions, capsicum, and tomatoes.

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