Onion pakoda recipe – pakoda or pakora are deep fried snack made with gram flour, salt, spices and a main ingredient like onion or a vegetable. Onion pakoda is one of the most popular & much loved snack especially during monsoon & cold winters. These are very commonly prepared in most Indian homes for an evening snack & is served with a cup of Masala tea.
Onion pakoda are also sold in street stalls & restaurants. In south Indian tiffin centers & restaurants these are served with coconut chutney. However in north Indian restaurants some chaat masala is sprinkled over the onion pakoda & is served along with green chutney.
I usually do not make any chutney with these pakoda and we just love them with a cup of hot masala tea.
Pakoda are easy to prepare when you have sudden guest or friend home and you love to make them feel special.
Over the years I have eaten all sorts of onion pakoda from the best to the awful that lack the crunch, flavor and absolutely oily. The recipe shared here will help you to make the best onion pakoda that do not soak up much oil and turn out crispy & flavorful.
Preparation for pakoda
1. To a mixing bowl, add the following ingredients
- 2 cups sliced onions (moderately thin)
- ½ teaspoon minced ginger (or fine choppes)
- 2 to 3 chopped green chilies
- 10 chopped mint leaves (or 2 tablespoons coriander leaves)
- 1 sprig curry leaves (chopped)
- ½ teaspoon salt
Tip: Avoid slicing the onions too thin or too thick. They should be moderately thin. Check video to know how thin.
2. Mix all of them well and squeeze the onions a couple of times so they begin to release moisture. Set this aside for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Sprinkle evenly the following
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1¼ cup besan (gram flour)
- 1½ tablespoon rice flour (or cornstarch or semolina)
- ½ teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds, vaamu)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup cashews (optional, soaked for 15 mins). You can also add half teaspoon garam masala.
4. Mix everything well. You get a dry mixture now.
How to make onion pakoda
5. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water each time and mix the flour to make a moist dough. Do not pour water, just sprinkle to get the dough right. Sprinkle more water as needed.
I used little over ¼ cup,but it depends on the amount of moisture your onions release. The mixture must be tight but not too dry. It should not be soggy or dripping otherwise they soak up lot of oil and will not turn crispy. Taste test this and add more salt if needed.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a kadai until very hot. When it turns hot pour it to the dough. Gently mix with a spoon and not hand as it will be very hot. You can also skip this step.
6. Heat oil in the same pan for deep frying until medium hot. Check if it is hot enough by dropping a small quantity of dough in the oil, it must rise without browning and not sink.
This is the right time to begin frying. Take small portions and gently drop them in the oil. Fry on a medium heat stirring occasionally for even frying.
7. Fry the onion pakoda till golden and crisp. Remove them to a colander or kitchen tissue. To fry the next batch ensure the oil is not very hot. Reduce the flame slightly and fry them.
Serve onion pakoda hot with a cup of tea or coffee. Sprinkle chaat masala if desired.
Tips to make best onion pakoda
- Taste test gram flour: Using good quality gram flour or besan is very important as it brings in a lot of aroma when roasted. Store bought gram flour goes rancid very quickly which turns bitter within a few months. So always taste test the gram flour before using.
- Preparing onions: To get evenly fried crisp onion pakoda, slice the onions uniformly to thin slices. Some thick and some thin will not yield you crispy pakoras. The thicker slices do not get fried well leaving the pakoras soft. So slice them to moderately thin sizes.
- Flour : Traditionally pakoda are made with gram flour or besan. However an additional ingredients like semolina, corn flour or rice flour is added in the street style and restaurant style as these ingredients keep the fritters crisp for longer. So do use 1 to 2 tbsps of this in the recipe.
- Substitutes:If you are allergic to gram flour, then you can use wheat flour to make the pakoda. Do note the taste differs but they will be still good.
- Temperature of oil: The oil has to be moderately hot enough before adding the dough. If the oil is not hot enough, the pakoras will soak up oil. If the oil is too hot, the onion pakoda will brown outside but will not get cooked inside.
- Frying pakoras: Pakodas have to be fried on a medium high flame. Frying them on a low flame will make them hard. Frying them on a high flame will burn them from outside without cooking inside.
Cashew pakoda is one popular variation made in a few households especially during special occasions. Cashews are broken down to smaller pieces and slightly soaked in water for about 15 mins and then added to the same onion pakoda mixture.
Herbs: My mom always would add lots of fresh homegrown pudina / mint and curry leaves to the onion pakoda mixture. If you love the flavor of mint then you will really love these. You can also add palak or Indian spinach here. Roughly chop them and add.
How to make onion pakoda light?
Many people add some hot oil to the pakora dough just before frying as this helps to make the onion pakoda crisp, lighter & will prevent them from soaking up oil. For the recipe mentioned below, you can add about 1 to 2 tbsps hot oil from the kadai once the deep frying oil turns hot.
Is there any leavening agent used to make onion pakora?
Leavening agent is not used in this onion pakora recipe. But the restaurants & street stalls use little soda-bi-carbonate to make them light.
Crispy onion pakoda recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 2 cups onions thinly sliced , layers separated
- 1¼ cup besan (gram flour, chana dal flour)
- 1½ tablespoon rice flour or semolina or cornstarch
- ¾ teaspoon salt (more if needed)
- ½ teaspoon ginger finely chopped or grated (optional)
- ½ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain or vaamu ) (skip if you don't have)
- 2 to 3 green chilies chopped (adjust to suit your taste)
- 1 sprig curry leaves chopped or 2 tbsps coriander leaves
- 10 mint leaves (pudina) chopped (optional)
- ¼ cup cashews (optional, soaked for 15 mins & drained)
- Oil for deep frying
Preparation for onion pakoda
- Slice onions moderately thin and add them to a mixing bowl.
- Add chilies, ginger, curry leaves, pudina and salt to the same mixing bowl.
- Nicely squeeze the onions with your fingers few times without mushing them up.
- Leave it aside for 5 minutes. This helps the onions to release some moisture.
- Then sprinkle besan, ajwain, cashews and more salt if needed.
- Mix everything well to coat the onions with the flour. The mixture will be fairly dry at this moment.
- Add water 2 tbsps each time and mix the flour to make a moist mass of dough.
- The dough must be tight yet very moist and not soggy like batter else they absorb lot of oil while frying.
How to make onion pakoda
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a kadai until very hot.
- Be careful as it is too hot. Pour this to the dough.
- Immediately the oil will sizzle. Mix the dough with a spoon and not hand as the oil is too hot.
- Heat oil in the same kadai or fry pan for deep frying the pakoda.
- Check if the oil is hot enough in the kadai by sliding a tiny piece of dough first.
- It has to rise and not sink in the oil. Next it should not brown too quickly. This is the right temperature.
- When the oil is hot enough, regulate the flame to medium high.
- Take a small amount of dough and make small pakoda with your fingers and slide them gently in the hot oil.
- Do not add too many pakodas in the pan. They should have some space in the pan to swim around & fry well.
- While frying stir & if needed flip the onion pakodas occasionally for even frying.
- Fry them till they turn crisp & golden. Then transfer them with a ladle to an absorbent tissue placed in a plate or to a colander.
- Continue to make more onion pakoda in batches with the rest of the dough.
- Serve onion pakoda hot with a cup of tea or coffee. You can also serve them with green chutney.
- Or sprinkle some chaat masala or any ground seasoning of your choice.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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