Simple pleasures


I start to panic if I run out of onions. They’re an absolute necessity in our house. How something so pungent when raw can be so seductive when cooked is a mystery. From onion soup to the base of a thousand sauces they must be one of the most versatile ingredients we have. And yes, even raw with some cucumber, tomato and coriander they’re delicious. I just tend to rinse them a little to take the edge off.

The naughtiness of a fried onion bhaji with its crisp edges and soft insides makes the onion seem illicit. I know deep-frying gets a bad press, but for me, it’s more about the arse-ache of getting the fryer down and then the oil clean up afterwards that would have BP blanching. So unless I’m going all out, I bake them in the oven. They’re just as delicious and yes, that little bit healthier.

Two onions is enough for a small portion each. And I like to serve them with a spicy mango chilli sauce Bee’s aunt Felicity brought down from Wiltshire. You can vary the spices as you like, I tend to throw a few different things in depending on my mood, but there is always ground cumin, ground coriander and ground turmeric in there. I added some ajwain and nigella seeds this time. Can you imagine?! What would the neighbours say?

2 white onions, very finely sliced on a mandoline
1tbsp chickpea flour
2tsp ground cumin
2tsp groud coriander
1tsp ground turmeric
1tsp ajwain seeds
1tsp nigella seeds
Salt and pepper to season
1tbsp olive oil, or even better, one of those spray oil things

Cook the onions really slowly in some olive oil with a little salt until soft and golden. About 15 minutes.
Mix them with the remaining ingredients in a bowl then divide into six to eight portions. Shape them with your hands and put on a baking tray. Cook at 180c for about 15 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately.

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