Crispy Onion Pakora - or Onion Pakoda - are fun little onion fritters, a popular Indian snack food. They're really quick and easy to make, too!
Early on in my gluten-free days, I happened across the fact that (although not always the case in restaurants), crispy pakoras are inherently gluten free.
Ever since then, I’ve leaned heavily on all kinds of delicious pakoras as the perfect snack when I’m craving something fried.
It’s always nice to have access to something normal, that’s just gluten free as it is - no compromise, no tinkering, just straight up safe, in its original form.
Whether you know them as kanda bhaji, onion bhajis, or Indian onion fritters, these crispy onion fritters are full of flavor - both from the onions themselves, and the flavorful batter.
Think “onion rings”, but with a different look, and wrapped up in warm, spicy goodness.
Oh, and they’re easy to make, too - so there is that!
SO, the next time you find yourself with loads of onions and no plan for them, consider making yourself a big bowl of crunchy onion pakoda!
Let’s get to it!
This recipe uses super basic ingredients, that should be easily found in any grocery store. That said, I do have some ingredient notes for you!
Onions are the key ingredient in this recipe - shocking, eh? - but you do have a lot of room for play here.
You can use red onions, yellow onion, and/or white onions.
Personally, I like to use a mix, about ½ red and ½ yellow.
I find the differences in flavour, sweetness, and texture to be more interesting than when I use a single type of onion.
Yes, pakoras are inherently gluten free*, no weird substitutions needed!
As a note: While you’ll find “garbanzo flour” and “chick pea flour” in most grocery stores, if you’re shopping at an Indian grocery or South Asian shop, you’re more likely to see it labeled as besan, besan flour, or gram flour.
Same stuff, different name!
* That said, some restaurants do cut their batter with wheat flour, so always ask when you’re not making it yourself!
Herbs, Spices, Etc
I use a jalapeno pepper in this, as those are the most readily available green chilies in my neck of the woods.
In addition to that, I use:
That said, I look at this as a base recipe. It’s fantastic on its own, but there’s a lot of room to customize it to your tastes or mood.
Add some finely chopped fresh mint leaves if you like - they go SO well with the cilantro and onion!
Do whatever you like!
Oil for Frying
Generally speaking, I’ll use vegetable oil for making pakodas - and anything else involving deep frying.
It’s cheap, has a high smoke point, a neutral flavour, and it’s easy to come by.
That said, any oil with a high smoke point will work well. Sunflower oil, canola oil, and peanut oil are also good choices.
You can use a deep fryer for this - if you have one - or a heavy bottomed pot or deep frying pan.
The nice thing about a deep fryer is that it keeps the temperature monitored and under control - a pan doesn’t have that functionality.
I gave up my deep fryer when we moved home to Canada, as our kitchen is TINY.
So, I use an IR Thermometer to keep track of the temperature.
If you have a candy thermometer or deep frying thermometer, those work well, also.
How to Make Onion Pakoda
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post, this is a pictorial walk through, with step by step photos and additional tips.
Start heating your oil to 325F – you’ll want at least 2-3″ of oil in your pot or deep fryer.
Note: When I’m not using an actual deep fryer, I like to start heating the oil over high heat, then turn it down to a medium flame as the oil approaches the right temperature.
Medium heat tends to work well in the end, but sometimes I need to fiddle with it.
Thinly slice onions - I like to use a mandoline, just not set to the thinnest setting. You want thin slices, just not PAPER thin.
Place onion slices in a large mixing bowl, along with jalapeno, cilantro, ginger garlic paste, spices, and salt. Stir to combine.
Add flours, stir again to combine.
Once batter has rested, add a little more water if needed. You want a relatively thick batter - not runny, and not so thick that it can be formed.
Using 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop, carefully transfer small portions of the batter to the preheated oil, working in batches.
Fry for a few minutes on each side, until crispy and golden brown.
Use a metal slotted spoon to transfer fried onion pakodas to paper towel, to absorb excess oil.
Serve hot, with your favorite chutney.
I like cilantro mint chutney (green chutney / coriander chutney), my husband prefers tamarind chutney, and some eve use tomato ketchup. You do you!
Leftover onion pakora can be cooled to room temperature, transferred to an airtight container, and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Best when reheated in an air fryer.
Air Fryer Onion Pakodas
With a few small alterations to technique, this can function as an air fryer onion pakoda recipe!
Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper. Rather than deep frying, scoop small amounts of batter onto the parchment paper, then freeze until solid.
You can transfer the frozen onion pakodas to a freezer bag for later use, or air fry them right away.
To air fry, preheat air fryer to 400 F
Spray air fryer basket with cooking spray, arrange battered cauliflower pieces in the basket, leaving a bit of room between each. Spray with pan spray.
Air fry for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
More Gluten-Free Indian Recipes
Craving some curry, pakoras, and chutney? I’ve got some delicious Indian Recipes for you!
Chicken Shahi Korma
Mango Lassi Popsicles
Mixed Vegetable Pakora
... I even have a few diet friendly adaptations on my low carb blog, Low Carb Hoser:
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- Deep Fryer or heavy bottomed pot
- Oil for deep frying
- 2 cups thinly sliced onions
- 1 Jalapeno finely chopped or grated
- 2-3 tablespoon Finely chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon Garlic-ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon Curry powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon Carom seeds optional
- ½ teaspoon Cumin
- 1 cup Garbanzo (chickpea) flour
- 2 tablespoon White rice flour
- ¼-1/3 cup Water
- Start heating your oil to 325F – you’ll want at least 2-3″ of oil in your pot or deep fryer.
- Place onion slices in a large bowl, along with jalapeno, cilantro, ginger garlic paste, spices, and salt. Stir to combine. Let sit for 20 minutes or so.
- Add flours, stir again to combine.
- Add a little water, stir well to form a thick batter. Allow batter to sit for 5 minutes or so, to soften the bean flour.
- Once batter has rested, add a little more water if needed. You want a relatively thick batter - not runny, and not so thick that it can be formed.
- Allow to sit for 5 more minutes, then give it a stir to re-incorporate any water that’s come out of the onions.
- Using 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop, carefully transfer small portions of the batter to the preheated oil, working in batches.
- Fry for a few minutes on each side, until crispy and golden brown.
- Use a slotted metal spoon to transfer fried onion pakodas to paper towels. Allow oil to come back up to temperature, repeat with batter.
- Serve hot, with cilantro-mint chutney.