Bhaja, a Bengali dish which in this country has become synonymous with spiced onion in batter, can be any deep-fried vegetable or mixture of vegetables and not always coated in batter. Try vegetables like courgettes, turnips, swedes, potatoes and sweet potatoes.


  • 60 g/ 2 oz besan flour
  • 75 g/ 2½ oz rice flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • oil for deep-frying
  • 1 tbsp poppy or mustard seeds
  • 450 g/ 1 lb onions, sliced across into rings
  • plain flour, for dredging


Make the batter by mixing the flours in a bowl. Add the bicarbonate of soda, chilli powder, pepper, turmeric and salt. Whisk in 250 ml/ 8 fl oz cold water and leave to stand for 30–45 minutes.

Preheat oil for deep-frying to 190°C/375°F. Stir the poppy or mustard seeds into the batter. Dredge a handful of onion rings in plain flour, then dip them in batter and deep-fry for 5 minutes, turning once. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.