Make Onion Pakoda that are delicately light, crunchy & crispy with a hint of natural sweetness and spiciness in every bite. Also known as Onion Pakora, these super addictive and delicious tea time Snack bites are made with gram flour, spices, herbs and loads of onions. A big bowl of crunchy onion pakoda, chutney, some piping hot Masala Chai on the side, raindrops and soft music playing in the background, you reach food nirvana!! This is the magic of humble pakora.
What is Onion Pakoda?
Pakoda also known as pakora are a deep fried snack from the Indian Sub-continent. These are made with besan (gram flour), salt, spices and a main ingredient like onion or a vegetable. Onion pakoda has onions as the key ingredient and these are the most popular snack in India.
Turn to any street corner across India, and you’ll find a vendor, eatery or food stall selling these fresh from the stove. Sometimes unexpected guests turn up at home or friends come unannounced. This hardly leaves any time to make an elaborate snack.
We Indians, serve them plates of fresh and crispy pakoras with chutney or ketchup, and the snacks disappear.
You will find numerous versions of making and serving these onion pakoda. The kanda (onion) bhaji is lovingly called khekda bhaji in Maharashtra given its crab-like shape.
In North India, pakodas are sprinkled with chaat masala and served with a Coriander Chutney, Mint Chutney or Green Chutney to go with it. In the South, this fried savory food recipe uses rice flour or corn starch, and is served with Coconut chutney. Sometimes soda-bicarb is added to the dough to make them lighter and crispier.
Do you often find yourself eating a plate of pakodas from street vendors?
Preparing snacks at home in oil that haven’t been heated multiple times over the course of day is a far healthier option for the family, especially for kids.
About This Recipe
My recipe will teach you how to make the perfect crunchy onion pakora that aren’t greasy! Absolutely no soggy & no greasy pakodas. This delicious snack is easy to make and comes together in a jiffy.
Sliced onions and chopped green chilies are mixed in with salt and spices. A decent sprinkling of besan or gram flour follows. The semi-dry dough is made by adding a few drops of water to bind all the ingredients.
Too dry and the onion and besan will break apart in the oil. They will also turn out too hard. Too wet and you end up with the South Indian bajji or fritter style dish.
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 every single time!
What best about onion pakoda other than its crunchiness & flavor?
This dish is inherently vegan and gluten-free as there is no wheat based flour or dairy in it.
You don’t need special accompaniments for this snack as it is tasty on its own. But a dash of ketchup, hot sauce or red, green or coconut chutney can add another layer of yum to this snack. Or pair it simply with masala chai for a refreshing tea time snack for kids and adults.
Bored of the onion-besan combo. Add other vegetables along with or without onions and make these Vegetable pakoras. Add greens, herbs or chopped nuts for a flavor twist and make these Spinach Pakoras. The options are endless, but nothing beats this classic onion pakoda when it comes to taste and texture.
How to make Onion Pakora (Stepwise photos)
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.
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.
Fry Onion Pakoda
6. Next 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. Lastly 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.
- 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. And 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.
Onion Pakoda | Onion Pakora
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US 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 Pakora
- 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.
- 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)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
This Onion Pakoda Recipe was first published in November 2014. Updated and republished in June 2022.