The crispy and golden Air Fryer Pakoras are cooked to perfection! These Air fried onion bhaji are made with sliced onions, gram flour (besan), and spices. These crunchy, flavorful fritters are a perfect snack with a cup of masala chai!
In India, pakora and chai are synonymous with rain. This dish also has very special memories for me. My mom used to make various pakoras, such as gobi pakora, aloo pakora, baingan pakora, and paneer pakora, whenever it rained, which is often done in Mumbai.
They are one of Indians' favorite street-style snacks, and I can't get enough of them. It's one of our fav Sunday evening snack with masala chai!
Of course, you can deep fry onion bhaji, but if you want to make it a bit healthier, then I suggest to air fry them. So here is my recipe to make air fried onion pakoras.
What Is A Pakora?
Deep-fried Indian fritters prepared with chickpea flour are known as pakoras or pakodas. These are also known as bhajji or bhajiya.
Potato, onions, mixed vegetables, cauliflower, and any other vegetables can be used to make pakoras. It is commonly eaten as a snack but can also be served as a side dish with any meal.
Why Should I Make Pakoras In The Air Fryer?
Here are the top reasons why I make my pakoras in the air fryer:
Health Quotient: As the name suggests, when compared to deep frying, the amount of oil used in an air fryer pakora is minimal. The pakoras are lighter.
Safety: With two young kids at home, a pan of hot oil on the stove always leaves me paranoid. Also, sometimes, the hot oil splatters on your hands and face causing burns when you are frying. So I prefer using my air fryer any day.
Mess-free: If you have tried making Pakoras, you will know that it creates a lot of mess. The oil droplets splatter around the stove and kitchen counter when frying. Also, if you are not careful, there are batter stains too.
Continuous Monitoring: When frying pakoras on the stove, you have to constantly monitor the pakoras and adjust the flame if the oil is too hot and the pakoras start to darken. The air fryer can set the required temperature and even the timer.
Storing the leftover oil: With deep frying pakoras, not only do you use a lot of oil, but another challenge is the cooling, straining, and storing of the leftover oil. Although you can use this oil for making curries and side dishes etc., later, I find it a hassle to store the oil.
Why We Love This Air Fryer Version
We are addicted to these air fryer pakoras for numerous reasons:
- this is a no-fry recipe
- simple to put together
- a perfect anytime snack
- kids and adults love them
- a healthier option for deep frying
- versatile - can make different varieties as per preferences
- naturally gluten-free and vegan.
I love my air fryer! I use it regularly to make these pakoras as an after-school snack or when we have unexpected guests.
And since these are low on oil, I am not guilty after eating them.
Deep Fried Pakora vs Air Fryer Pakora?
The biggest difference between deep-fried and air-fried pakora is the quantity of oil used. With the air fryer, you use much less oil, and you get crisp and crunchy pakoras, which are much lighter and healthier than deep-fried ones.
Gram Flour (besan): Besan makes the batter that binds the ingredients. Besan is a good source of protein. When used with besan, a little Rice flour or sooji/ semolina makes the pakodas crispy.
Rice Flour - 2 tablespoons rice flour, when added to the bhaji mix, gives the crunchiest fritters.
Onion: I prefer red onion for this recipe, but yellow onion would work too. This recipe calls for 2 cups of sliced onions. You can also add other veggies, such as chopped spinach or potatoes, but I have kept it simple and made it with just onions.
Green chili pepper: I usually use Thai green chili peppers, but you can substitute serrano or jalapeno peppers. If you can't stand the heat, just skip it.
Cilantro: Adding fresh chopped cilantro to the batter gives a flavor boost to the pakoras.
Spices and seasonings: Ajwain, turmeric, coriander powder, chili powder, and garam masala are used to flavor these pakoras.
Oil: To spray in the air fryer and pakoras.
How To Make Air Fryer Pakora?
- Peel and slice the onion.
- Wash and finely chop the green chili and cilantro
- In a large mixing bowl, add the onions. Then combine the chickpea flour (besan), rice flour, red chili powder, turmeric powder, carom seeds, things, and salt.
- The moisture from the onions will help start the formation of the batter.
- Squeeze the onions (but don't smash them) so their water releases to form a clumpy dough.
- Add one teaspoon of oil to the batter, so that helps to make the pakoras softer from the inside.
- Only if needed, add 1-2 tablespoons of water when making the batter.
Air Fryer Method
- Preheat your air fryer as per the instruction manual by the manufacturer (about 400°F for 5 minutes). Then, spray a little oil to prevent the pakoras from sticking to the surface.
- Pick some batter in your fingers, and flatten it in a patty-like shape. Then place it in the air fryer basket. Spray some oil on top.
- You can adjust the size of the pakoras as per your preference. Air fry at 350°F for 12- 14 minutes. Flip the pakoras at about 9 minutes.
- Once they are golden and crispy, take them out on a plate lined with a paper towel. Sprinkle some chaat masala. Serve hot and with mint cilantro chutney or ketchup.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place spoonfuls of this mixture on it. You want to make small to medium-sized pakoras rather so they bake uniformly.
- Then bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 400°F (205 °C). Spray with oil, flip the baking tray around at the halfway mark, and then continue to bake. Keep an eye on them to ensure they're baking properly and not burning.
Pakoras taste best when served hot with a dipping sauce. Use any of your favorite sauces. We have a few options for you - Mint Cilantro Chutney and tamarind chutney.
Kids also enjoy pakoras with tomato ketchup!
In Northern India, people eat pakora and chutney with roti/ phulka. You can also add these pakoras to punjabi kadhi.
Bhajiya pav is an all-time favorite street food in Mumbai! Bhajiyas are sandwiched between pav with fried chilies and drizzling chutneys - mouth-watering, isn't it.
Nothing tastes better with pakoras than a cup of hot masala chai on a rainy day...this is the ultimate combination!
Tips & Notes
- The batter needs to be thick and not runny. We need just enough moisture in the batter to achieve crispy pakoras. The pakoras will not be as crispy if there is too much water.
- To minimize overcrowding and uneven cooking, air fry only a few pakoras at a time.
- Adding lemon juice to the batter (that's how my mom taught me) balances out the taste of the flour and spices.
Onion pakora - These are a super favorite! This dish is known as 'Pyaaz Pakora' in India. Each region has its variant and name. They are crispy and a perfect any-time snack or side dish.
Potato Pakora - My kids enjoy these the most! Coated in gram flour batter and fried, the potato discs make a simple and amazing snack.
Cauliflower (Gobi) Pakora: Cauliflower floret pakoras are simple chickpea flour battered, deep-fried Indian fritters ideal for rainy and wintery days.
Mix-veg Pakora: You can use your creativity here. Any vegetables of your choice can be converted into a pakora. Onion, eggplant, carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, bell peppers, bottle gourd (lauki), baby corn, spinach, kale, green chili, etc. Chop the vegetables and combine them with the batter and air-fry.
You can also serve an assorted pakora platter with various pakoras and condiments.
Bread Pakora: A popular Indian street food- can be an easy breakfast or a tea-time snack. It's made by dipping bread slices in gram flour batter and deep-frying them. The stuffed (with potato filling) bread pakoras taste delicious.
Paneer Pakora: Paneer (cottage cheese) pakora is a popular north Indian deep-fried snack with a crispy gram flour outer layer and soft and moist paneer inside. These can be made with or without the filling.
Spinach Pakora: Isn't it a fantastic way to get your kids to have the greens. Whole spinach leaves are dipped in the batter and fried.
Mirchi Pakora: Green chillis or other Jalapenos can be battered and deep-fried.
Chicken or Fish Pakoras: You can try chicken or fish pakoras for all meat lovers.
Dal Pakora: The dal pakora is an Indian lentil fritter that is crunchy and soft on the inside. These are usually made with moong dal or canna dal. They can be served with green chutney.
To get the most amazing crisp pakoras, you must ensure the following things in mind - a) adding too much water to the batter will not give you crisp pakoras. This is because the vegetables will also release water as they sit in the batter. b) chop the vegetables finely or slice them thinly, depending on the type of pakora you are making.
Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days or freeze them for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
Reheat for 12 to 15 minutes on a rack set over a tray at 180°C/350°F until hot and crispy.
Air Fryer Pakora
- 2 cup Red onions thinly sliced
- 2 Green chilli finely diced, adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon Ginger grated or paste
- 2 tablespoons Cilantro finely chopped
- 1 cup Gram flour (Besan)
- 2 tablespoon Rice flour
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder air fryer butternut squashair fryer acorn squash
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Turmeric (Haldi powder)
- ½ teaspoon Carom seeds (Ajwain)
- ¼ teaspoon Asafoetida (Hing) optional
- 1 teaspoon Salt adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon Oil plus for spraying
- ½ teaspoon Chaat Masala
- Mint Cilantro Chutney
- Tamarind chutney
- Peel and slice the onion
- Wash and chop the green chilli and cilantro
- In a large mixing bowl, add the sliced onions, green chili, and cilantro leaves. Then add the chickpea flour (besan), rice flour, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, carom seeds, hing and salt.
- mix using your hand. Squeeze the onions with your fingers while mixing. Don't add any water as a runny batter will not make crispy pakoras. Squeeze the onions until their moisture releases and a clumpy dough forms.
- Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the onion batter. This can help make the air fryer pakoras softer inside.Only if needed, add 1-2 tablespoons of water so the onions are well coated with the gram flour and spices.
Air Fryer Method
- Preheat your air fryer as per the instruction manual of the manufacturer (about 400°F for 5 minutes). Then, spray a little oil to prevent the pakoras from sticking to the surface.
- Pick some batter in your fingers, and flatten in a patty like shape. Then place it in the air fryer basket. Make sure the pakoras don't touch each other. Do not overcrowd. Spray some oil on top.
- Air fryer at 350°F for 12-14 minutes. Flip the pakoras at about 9 minutes.
- Once they are golden and crispy, take out on a plate lined with paper towel. Sprinkle some chaat masala. Serve hot and with mint cilantro chutney or ketchup.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place spoonfuls of the batter on it. You want to make small to medium-sized pakoras rather so they bake uniformly.
- Then bake for 25-30 minutes at 400°F (205 °C). Spray with oil and flip the baking tray around at halfway mark and then continue to bake. Keep an eye on them to ensure sure they're baking properly and not burning.
Note: Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.
hello! do you have an alternative to rice flour for this recipe?
Meeta Arora says
Hi Missy - You can use cornstarch or all-purpose flour or just skip it. I hope you enjoy the pakoras.