2 onions, core removed, halved and very thinly sliced
2 green chillies, finely chopped or minced
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds, coarsely crushed
½ tsp ajwain (lovage) seeds, crushed
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp lemon juice
40 g (1 ½ oz/ 1/3 cup) chickpea (garbanzo) or besan flour
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
2 tbsp water
Place the onions in a deep bowl and add all the ingredients except the chickpea flour, salt and water.
Sift the chickpea flour with the salt.
Start heating the oil for deep-frying.
Mix the flour and salt slowly into the onions and rub it in with your fingers, until the mix is firm and sticky. Try and use one palm only.
Add the water and mix further for a minute or two, check the salt and you are ready to fry.
The oil should be heated to 180°C (350°F) or until a tiny bit of the batter drops in, sizzles, rises to the surface and browns in 30 seconds. Do not have the oil too hot or they will fry too fast and remain raw inside and gooey. Too cold and the results will be oily and soft.
With your already-messy fingers put small dollops of the batter into the oil to fry. The bhajias should be no bigger than 2.5 cm (1 in) diameter. Fry a few at a time until crisp and golden – about 4 minutes – turning in the oil, if necessary. Do not put too many in the oil in one go or they will be pale and soggy as the oil temperature will drop too much. Reheat the oil between batches.
You can, on the other hand, if you want to serve them later, half-fry and remove them then briefly re-fry in very hot oil to brown and crisp when ready to serve.
When cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve the bhajias with any of the green chutneys or the fresh tomato and garlic chutney.