February 8, 2012

Crispy Potato Bhajia

Crispy Potato Bhajia (3)

Served in paper cones with fried green chillies for that ‘bhajia on the beach’ feel

I’ve always been a sucker for ordering too many starters in restaurants, especially when it involves Crispy Potato Bhajia (paper-thin potato slices coated in a bespoke spice blend), Hara Bara Kebabs (pea and cauliflower cakes) and Daal Kachori (spiced daal in semolina pastry). I’m told my eyes are bigger than my belly and I’ve never been one to argue with legitimate allegations.

Although I love eating out as much as I love home cooking, there’s always one question lingering on my lips as I attempt to make a choice of which restaurant to spend my Friday evening in  do they serve decent starters?

In all honesty, I think I can judge an Indian restaurant menu by the starters they have to offer. If the vegetarian appetisers are limited to samosas and onion bhajis (to this day, I still don’t understand onion bhajis – what are they and where did they come from?) I know I’m not going to be dazzled by their selection of mains. This is something I’ve learnt from eating out far more than I can afford to.

With other cuisines, I’m rubbish at menu guessing but I’m often just delighted if the vegetarian options stray from tired goat’s cheese salads or baked aubergine mush. In any case, I’m often at my happiest when there are three gorgeous starters I can get stuck into whilst everyone else enjoys their mains.

Crispy Potato Bhajia

An Ode to Bhajia

One of my favourite restaurants to do this at is the revered Maru’s Bhajia House in Wembley, London. With its humble green sign and modest dining area, the café is nothing elaborate but with a shining reputation going back decades, I guarantee you’ll never get a better bhajiyu (vegetables, often potatoes, deep fried in a spicy batter). Their signature bhajia have a closely-guarded recipe, brought to the UK from Nairobi by a family who must have loved seeing people’s smiling faces when they dug into a plate of these beauties. For East African Indians, Crispy Bhajia were the cupcake of their time. To some extent, they probably still are.

Many have tried to create the original version in their own homes – whether they were successful or not is probably kept as much a secret as the Maru’s Bhajia House recipe itself.

Here’s my version of the classic. Share this dish with family and friends; I’ve known many a chap risk stinking out entire London buses to get home and share Crispy Potato Bhajiya with their loved ones. Now that’s what I call dedication.

Crispy Potato Bhajia with Hot and Sour Cucumber Chutney

For the bhajia:

400g unpeeled potatoes, sliced thinly (I used a mandolin)
150g chickpea flour
60g rice flour
1/2 tsp cornflour
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
6-8 green chillies (or to taste), pounded into a paste
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
6 heaped tbsp fresh coriander, chopped very finely
½ tsp carom seeds
2 ½ tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp sugar

Oil to deep fry

For the cucumber chutney:

200g cucumber
200g fresh tomatoes
140g carrot
1 clove garlic
8-10 tbsp fresh coriander
6 green chillies (or to taste)
Juice of two lemons
200ml water
1 ½ tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt


1. Place the sliced potatoes in a bowl of iced water.

2. Mix all of the other ingredients for the bhajia. A blend of different flours will give the bhajia a beautifully crisp finish.

3. Drain the potatoes but do not dry them. Immediately toss the potatoes in the flour mixture. The mixture should stick to the potatoes. If it seems dry, add just enough cold water to make the flour coat the potato slices. Allow to stand whilst you make the chutney.

4. Blend together all of the ingredients for the chutney until coarsely puréed. Place into serving bowls.

5. In a large wok, heat the oil to around 190°C and slowly place 1/3 of the potato slices into the pan. Allow to become golden all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Serve alongside the chutney immediately for optimal crunch. I like to serve my bhajia in paper cones for that ‘bhajia on the beach’ feel but maybe I’m just being finicky. Sprinkle with rock salt and chilli flakes if your guests are that way inclined.  

Crispy Potato Bhajia (2)Love Sanjana

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42 responses to “Crispy Potato Bhajia”

  1. alpana says:

    Sanjana….these bhajiyas are to die for……perfectly crispy & droolworthy.

  2. What delicious sight!!!…I will definitely cook this =)

  3. Nisha says:

    … and these are baked, not fried! Awesome!

  4. Nupur says:

    Hey, where do u stay ?? I have been to this rest you are talking about it and it was good..

    Very inviting pics, love the use of Lace 🙂

  5. Fab presentation !! absolutely lovely !!

  6. Mina Joshi says:

    These look great. Love the cucumber salad too

  7. Wow, oh wow. I am by no means an expert in Indian cooking and can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve eaten at an Indian restaurant, but this dish makes me wonder what kind of fool I’ve been. It looks absolutely amazing. I love the hot and spicy cucumber chutney. What kind of potatoes did you use?

    • Sanjana says:

      Hi there! Lovely to hear from you again – I used Maris Piper potatoes but any waxy potatoes will do. Hope this helps x

  8. Kathryn says:

    Wow they look amazing! I have to try these! Do you have a recipe for the Hara Bara Kebabs?

    • Sanjana says:

      Hi Kathryn, thanks for your comment. I don’t have one written down and photographed at the moment but I’ll do my best to do one for you!

  9. dixie says:

    I have never heard of this or seen it on menus but it sounds absolutely fabulous. I am definitely going to give this recipe a shot! The chutney sounds delish.

  10. bungon says:

    soooo good.. it’s very very nice!! i love potato but your potato..the best that i’ve never see before thanks for the recipe..

  11. Congratulations on Foodbuzz Top 9 today. These crispy potato Bhajia look amazing! I am from Sri Lanka so I am very happy to eat all things full of spice. Lovely photo too! I am trying to learn as much as I can about food photography so when I see someone with wonderful skills, I must ask them… what camera? what lighting source? Thanks!! Ramona

    • Sanjana says:

      Hey Ramona, thanks so much. I’m far from a proper photographer but do try! I’m using a Canon 500D in natural light from my kitchen window. Hope this helps.

  12. Anusha says:

    i think you are a legend! love reading your blog

  13. These bhajia are making my me swim in drool – amazing! And I love that you framed them in paper cones with fried chiles. I feel like I’m enjoying bhajia on the beach right now! Or maybe I just wish I were. It’s a pleasure to meet you through Foodbuzz!! 🙂

  14. Kiri W. says:

    Oooh, this looks amazing! I’ve never had bhajia, but now I am dying to try them! 🙂

  15. Suzi says:

    Wow, this looks fantastic, I want to make this. Your photos are killer too. Beautiful. Congrats on the Top 9.

  16. Congratulations on Foodbuzz top 9 and great to “meet” you this way.
    I never had bhajia or anything similar to your crispy potato bhajia.. i like it though that you made it crispy by baking and not frying.

    have a great day!

  17. Claire says:

    Great recipe! congratulations! I will try it for sure

  18. These look and sound really good!

  19. Mary says:

    This looks delicious! Are you still doing the Spice School? I don’t see any information any more.

    • Sanjana says:

      Hi Mary, unfortunately due to unforseen circumstances we aren’t. So sorry and hope you continue to visit K.O Rasoi. Hope you’re well x

  20. I just discovered your site today and fell in love immediately. I’ve been craving bhajias for quite some time and this I feel might just be the needed catalyst to get in the kitchen.

  21. Divya says:

    HI Sanjana,

    Absolutely love your recipes! These remind me of my mom making “maru na bhajia” on sunday afternoons with chai!


  22. Lovlie says:

    I really love these! I find it funny to find these things, bhajis and samoosas, as starters in restaurants. I do enjoy them though but this very much reminds me of the street sellers in Mauritius with their deep fryer and big umbrella, they would serve this very much like in your photo there, wrapped in paper. After school we would buy them as snacks. And yes, now I’m in Ireland and I go to restaurants to have them. They are so easy to make but I don’t quite like doing the deep frying myself (although I do from time to time).
    Nice recipe there, it does make my mouth water thinking about those! 😛

    • Sanjana says:

      Hi! Great to hear about the bhajia love being spread in Mauritius too – I learnt something new today! Thanks so much. Sanjana

  23. Who wouldn’t want to just pick these right from their screen and eat? My mouth is filled with saliva (LOL) while I look at these bhajia pics!

    Amazing bhajia..Slurrp! Slurrp!

  24. Priscilla says:

    I could not live without my mandolin!

  25. Mina says:

    i’ve always wanted to make these and never have… yours look delightful!

  26. Kinya says:

    wow! planning to make these for the family soon! After searching thoroughly online, you have the least complicated, yet most delicious looking lite and crispy bhajia recipe. And what wonderful pictures and serving ideas! And the chutney!! oh my! Thanks for posting this. –From Nairobi, Kenya –Kinya Kaunjuga.

  27. mary says:

    Great recipes. How do you prepare the chutney?

  28. sangeeta says:

    I was over moon when I found out the recipe, especially "maru's bhajaia and chutney"

    It was a standard treat evey saturday going to River Road where my grandfather owned a shop called Nyanza perfumery works. My uncles treated me- I used to sit in the back and watch everyone work, while I sat and ate the scrumptious food all in a brown paper bag, oily and oozing with the chutney.  The famous drink was vimto in a tiny bottle. loaded with sugar but who cared then. lol

    What wonderful memories.  If only could turn back the clock!  :))

  29. veenashankar says:

    wow! this looks so amazing.. Love this snack..

  30. khanomeAlef says:

    Hi Sanjana I made this potato today it was great everyone loved it thank you
    And where can I subscribe for newsletters ? Do you have newsletters?

  31. kamla masalawalla says:

    i have to try this bhajya recipe this weekend,looks so yummy.

  32. chitu1963 says:

    Thank you. I lived in nairobi and visited Mombasa also.one of my favorite snack. Lovely photography. I want to try your chutney.i used to make Maru Bhajiya. Can you give me slush finger chips tossed in tomatoes.

  33. Yummy cant beat making this at home. Thanks for sharing.


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