Onion Pakoras

Onion Pakoras – A special pakora recipe for those rainy evenings!

Onion pakoras are crispy fritters made with thinly sliced onions dipped in gram flour batter, seasoned with spices and deep fried until golden brown.

Onion Pakoras | Onion Pakodas

Onion pakoras or Onion Pakodas are a popular Indian snack that is prepared with onions that are dipped in a spiced besan flour and deep fried to a crispy golden brown colour.

They have mostly a crispy texture and when you bite into one, you must taste the heat from the spices and green chillies, the nutty flavour of the gram flour and the onions that give a sweet texture.

In Bengaluru, we find onion pakoras at street side bajiya stores or “hot chips” stores sold by the kilo to relish at home.

Onion Pakoras

Onion Pakoras also known as Khanda Bhajis is a version of Indian fritters and is a very popular street food. If you have ever wondered what is the difference between Onion Pakora/pakora and Onion Bhaji? – they are one and the same. People use the terms Onion Pakoras and Onion Bhajis interchangeably to describe them.

Bajji is a word used in South India to describe any vegetable/ingredient that is coated in a gram flour batter and deep fried. Bajjis typically have a smooth coating of batter, while pakoras/pakodas do not have as even of a look and usually consist of deep-fried vegetables with a lesser amount of batter. We also make onion bajjis in South India that consists of 2-3 rings of onion coated with a gram flour batter and deep fried. This onion bajjis will look more like an Indian version of onion rings.

What ever you may love calling it, I have to say that they make for an excellent tea time snack and especially a monsoon snack when there’s rain outside and you have a plate of these crispy fritters along with a cup of hot Ginger Chai.

Ingredients for Onion Pakoras

Onions are, of course, the hero ingredients of these pakoras. In India we only get red onions in the market, but in some places I’ve seen white onions too. But for this recipe, let’s get the red/purple onions.

I have used several spices and spice powders in the recipe – you can either add all of them or select a few from the list. But pick 2-3 from the list to feel the flavour burst in your mouth while chewing on the crunchy onion pakora.

Spices and spice powders

  • Cumin seeds | Jeera
  • Coriander seeds, crushed
  • Kasuri Methi | Dried Fenugreek leaves
  • Turmeric powder
  • Red Chilli powder
  • Salt

Herbs and additional veg

  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Green chillies, finely chopped
  • Ginger, grated
  • Tomato provides sourness and helps hydrate the batter without the use of water.

You will also need rice flour and gram flour to bind all the onions and spices together. Adding rice flour to the onion pakora batter provides the crunch, and the gram flour helps to absorb all the moisture from the onions and tomato.

In India, people know gram flour as besan in Hindi or kadala maavu in Tamil. It is made by soaking, drying, and grinding channa dal. (Channa dal is an ingredient that you get when you remove the skin of black channa and give it a polish).

In western countries, gram flour also goes by the name of chickpea flour, which is processed from white channa or popularly known as Garbanzo beans. If you don’t have besan, you can use chickpea flour – both have a nutty flavour and perform the same function of absorbing moisture in the batter.

The other optional ingredients you can use are – Onion powder and garlic powder. Fair warning to you, if you add garlic powder, the pakoras will taste nothing like the ones you eat at restaurants. However, they will still be delicious.

How to make onion pakoras?

Onion Pakoras

Firstly, slice the onions into equal-sized pieces. Place the onion slices in a bowl and sprinkle salt over the onions and mix them well with your fingers. Let this rest for 20-30 minutes. During this time, the salt will help release water from the onions. This process of letting the water out of the onions will yield a crispier texture when fried in oil.

Meanwhile, roast the besan for 20 seconds on a low flame and allow it to cool down.

With the help of a mortar and pestle, you can roughly crush the coriander seeds.

Chop the green chillies and coriander leaves and keep aside.

Grate the tomato and keep it ready. You need a grated texture with all the water from the tomato oozing out. If you chop the tomatoes, you might end up eating chunks of fried tomatoes instead of onions, so I suggest grating it. If you do not want tomatoes, you can skip it. Instead, you can get the sour flavour from a 1/2 tsp of amchur powder (dried mango powder)

After 30 minutes, you can notice that there is some moisture released from the onions. Perfect, let it be and start adding the rest of the ingredients except the rice flour and besan.

Give all the ingredients a thorough mix and let it be for another five minutes. You might see that there is more moisture in the batter. Now, add the besan and the rice flour. (Check the recipe card below for measurements). The batter should look like there is enough masala coated on to all the onions. Adjust the salt levels and you can start the frying process.

Some people prefer making soft onion pakodas; if you want a soft texture, you can add a pinch of baking soda to the batter and this will aid it

Frying the Onion pakoras

Pour 1/2 lt. of oil into a kadai or more, depending on the size of your kadai. I always choose a small kadai to ensure that I use up less oil for the frying process. Once you fry the pakoras in this oil, you might not reuse it since there will be a lot of small fragments and colour in the oil by use of turmeric powder.

Turn on the flame to a medium-high setting and let the oil warm up. Once the oil is warm, add a small piece of the batter to the oil to see if it is ready. If the piece floats up immediately, the oil is sufficiently warm. Else you can wait for another few seconds.

With the use of your fingers, take a small portion (the size of a lime) and flatten it with your thumb. Add the batter to the oil. The onion pakoras will sizzle right away. Add as much as you can, depending on the size of your kadai. It is best to not crowd the oil with too much batter.

Reduce the flame to a low-medium flame and, with the help of a slotted spoon, turn the pakoras to cook them on both sides.

Your pakoras are ready when they are golden brown. At this stage, remove the crisp onion pakoras from the oil and add them to a plate lined with kitchen tissue paper. The paper will help absorb the excess oil.

The Onion Pakoras will continue to crisp up as it cools down, so don’t be tempted to eat them right away. They taste the best when they have cooled a little, yet warm at the center.

(Why are my onion pakoras not crispy? – They are not crispy because that there was too much water in the batter. You can course correct your next batch of onion pakoras by adding in some more finely chopped onions and a little rice flour.)

Plate up your crispy onion pakoras with green chutney or imli chutney or any chutney of your choice!

Onion Pakoras
Onion Pakoras

Some tips for making Onion pakora crispy

  • Always cut the onion to equal lengths and size. It will ensure even frying. If some pieces are small, they will fry quickly and if they are long or thick, they will take some time to fry.
  • Toasting the besan flour for 30 seconds on low heat will help increase the nutty flavour in the pakoras.
  • The resting time where the onions are allowed to let our water will get you that even crispy texture. By doing this process, you will not need to add any extra water at all to the batter. Water needed for the batter comes from the onions and the one grated tomato we are using in this recipe.
  • Keeping the flame at a medium is the best. If you keep at a low flame, you will observe that the pakora has absorbed more oil. If you keep at a high flame, they brown up too fast on the outside and the insides remain soft.

The best Onion Pakora recipe for beginners

OK, if you find the above process a little too much for you, I have a simple way to prepare delicious onion pakoras in much less time. If you are a beginner or don’t have as many ingredients available, the simple ingredients you need to gather are:-

  • Onions – 1
  • Rice flour – 1 tablespoon
  • Besan – 2 tablespoons
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Red Chilli powder – 1 tsp and
  • Oil for frying – 1/4 litre

Slice the onions, add them to a bowl. Sprinkle the salt and allow the onion to release water. Let it be that way for 10 minutes. Add rest of the ingredients a mix well. If you think the pakora batter is a little dry, sprinkle some water with your hands and just get the batter to a moist texture. The lesser the water, the crisper your pakora will be.

You can then follow the same procedure as mentioned above for the frying and you will get an equally delicious Onion Pakora.

Storing and Reheating Onion Pakoras

In Bangalore weather, you can store them at room temperature in an airtight container for a day or two since they are fried. If you live in a warmer weather, it is advisable to consume it on the day it’s prepared.

If you want to store them in a box for eating them later, it is best to leave them out until they are completely cool and then store them in an air tight container to preserve the crispiness. If the pakoras are still warm, the condensation from the heat of the pakoras will make them soft.

If you think you cannot finish eating all of them and decide to store in the refrigerator, when you do eat them again, allow them to come to room temperature. You can then put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to warm it up. It won’t get crisp, but it will get warm.

You can add the onion pakodas in an air fryer for 3-4 minutes on 160C and it should crisp up.

Onion Pakoras
Onion Pakoras

It will be great if you tag me on Instagram @ Make Potato, when you make this recipe.

Please do leave a rating and a comment if you can, on the recipe below–it will help me grow and reach many more food lovers like you.

I have adapted this recipe from Anjula Devi’s Instagram post; check it out. I love all her recipes and usually incorporate her palate of flavours in my everyday cooking.


Onion Pakoras

Onion Pakora

Onion pakoras are crunchy batter fried onions prepared with fragrant herbs and spices.
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Indian
Servings 110 gm of pakoras


  • 2 small Onions (130-140g)
  • 1 tsp Table salt


  • ½ tsp Cumin seeds | Jeera
  • ½ tsp Ajwain seeds | Ohmam
  • ½ tsp Coriander seeds crushed
  • ½ tsp Kasuri Methi | Dried Fenugreek leaves
  • ½ tsp Turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Red Chilli powder adjust according to taste

Herbs and Flour

  • 10-15 gm Coriander Leaves and stems a handful, finely chopped
  • ½ tsbp Ginger grated
  • 1 Green Chilli finely chopped
  • 1 Tomato small, grated
  • 1 tbsp Rice flour
  • 2 tbsp Gram Flour
  • 1/2 lt Cooking Oil for deep frying


Prep Work

  • Peel the onions and slice them into thin strips.
    You can achieve this cut by first peeling the outer skin and then cut the onions into thin rings. Once you have all the thin rings, cut them into halves to get those thin crescents.
  • Add the sliced onions to a bowl and sprinkle the salt. Allow the onions to rest for at least 30 minutes. This will help the onions release its water.
    Do not remove this water after the 30 minutes.
  • To this same bowl, add the spices, spice powders and herbs – Cumin seeds, ajwain seeds, kasuri methi, crushed coriander seeds, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, finely chopped coriander seeds, finely chopped green chilli, grated ginger and grated tomato.
    Mix all the ingredients well and make sure all the spices and herbs are coated well on the onions.
    Allow this to rest for another two minutes.
  • Next step is to add the rice flour and gram flour. With your fingers, mix the ingredients well. You will not need to add any water at all.
    You will notice the water from the onions and the tomatoes will be sufficient.
    Your Onion Pakora batter is ready.

Frying the Onion Pakoras

  • Place a small kadai with half a litre of oil. Turn on the flame and allow the oil to warm up.
    The oil should not be smoking, if it is, reduce the flame and allow the smoking to go away before adding the pakoda batter.
  • Once the oil is warm, take a small portion of the pakoda batter, flatten it with your fingers before slowly dropping it into the oil.
    They should immediately start sizzling and rise to the top.
  • Keep the flame on a medium-low and allow the onions to fry into a golden colour.
  • Remove your crispy Onion Pakodas from the oil and add them to a plate lined with kitchen tissue paper.
  • Serve these warm, crispy and delicious Onion Pakodas with a green chutney, or you can just enjoy the flavours all on its own.
Keyword After School Snacks, Evening Snacks, Onion Recipes

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