If you’re always on the lookout for new recipes then you’ll no doubt have various scraps of paper cluttering up your house, each featuring a scribbled or printed recipe that you’ll just never get round to sticking or copying into that special dedicated notebook you got for Christmas (and the person who gave you that book is probably sick of the clutter too). Guilty as charged, over here.

The best onion bhaji recipe I ever found was printed on the back of a gram flour packet, and I’ve only gone and thrown it out. So last night I was forced to branch out and try a different recipe (as much as anyone can be forcibly compelled to make onion bhajis). I’ve made sweet potato bhajis to Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian recipe before, so I tried her suggested variation to make the more traditional onion version. It wasn’t wholly successful, as there didn’t seem to be enough gram flour mixture to hold each bhaji together; they worked better that I thought they would, though, and were light and crispy. The dried chilli gives just the right amount of kick, and I love that Rose Elliot includes fresh coriander. I’ll try them again soon to work out the optimum quantities, but please send me your tried-and-tested bhaji recipes! I’m desperate.

Onion bhajis
 (from Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian)

Makes eight, apparently. They don’t hold together too well, so smaller ones might be your best bet, in which case obviously you’ll end up with more than eight.

450g onions (red or white)
125g gram flour
1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

  1. Slice your onions. A straggly onion bhaji is a beautiful thing, so keep your slices longish rather than chopping them finely.
  2. Put the sliced onions in a bowl and add the gram flour, chilli flakes, baking powder, salt and coriander. Give it a really good mix – you can do this with a wooden spoon, but you might find it easier with your hands; I know I do. The moisture will be drawn out from the onions so everything should start to come together, but you can add a little water after a good mix if everything still feels dry. I find it easiest to form the mixture into lumps of whatever size you fancy (I wouldn’t go bigger than about a tablespoon of mixture) at this stage, laying them out on a chopping board ready for frying.
  3. Choose a medium-sized saucepan and pour in enough vegetable oil to half-fill the pan (you can always strain and reuse the oil afterwards, once it’s cooled down), setting it over a medium-high heat.
  4. Start adding your bhajis once the oil reaches 180°C, or when a cube of bread rises to the surface and turns golden brown in under a minute. To be honest, I just take a punt on it and start putting them in when it looks hot. Depending on the size of your pan, it’s probably best to only fry three or four bhajis at once, to prevent the oil cooling.
  5. After about four minutes, the bhajis should be deliciously golden and crisp, and cooked right through. Drain them on kitchen paper and keep them warm in a low oven while you fry up the rest.
For a really tasty sweet potato variation, peel and grate 350g sweet potatoes in place of the sliced onion in the recipe above, and add one very finely chopped onion to the mixture too.