Khekda Bhaji, The Onion Fritter From Maharashtra For Your Tea
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Monsoons bring with them chilly winds and dark evenings and a hankering for crispy, fried foods on sultry evenings. Across regions and borders, sipping on chai and snacking on pakoras while watching monsoon showers come bearing down is a delightful way to spend an evening. The crispy pakoras have a lip-smacking flavour and mouthwatering aromas that waft all about the house beckoning everyone to come and bite into this deep fried goodie.

Image courtesy: Crave Cook Click

In Maharashtra too, the onset of monsoons means binging on pakoras and crisps for afternoon snacking. One such popular Maharashtrian dish is the kanda bhaji or the onion fritter, a spicy, crunchy pakora made from onions deep-fried in a coating of besan or gram flour. Kanda bhaji is also a very popular street food in Maharashtra and the smells of freshly fried bhajis oozing out from a street shop gets taste buds salivating.

A popular variant of kanda bhaji in Maharashtrian cuisine is known as the khekda bhaja, where khekda or crab refers to the shape of the fried onions. Such a bhaja is made simply by first cutting onions in half and then slicing them vertically before dipping in besan batter. This gives the vertically sliced clump of onions a shape akin to crab claws, a simple allusion giving this fritter its Marathi name. 

A khekda bhaja is a staple afternoon snack that can be easily made at home. Making the bhaja into a crispy finger food is the simplest trick to enjoying delicious fritters in the monsoon. Many times, kanda bhaji also works as an accompaniment to vada pav and are enjoyed with green chutney, garlic chutney and even with tomato sauce. The besan coating containing a hint of heat coupled with the sweet and spicy onions fried in hot oil make for a delicious combo that can be washed down with masala chai. 

This simple rainy day special snack also carries flavours of ajwain and asafoetida making it slightly easy to digest. The warm chai helps to rid of the oiliness contained in the throat making chai and bhajiya a complete snack on windy, cool evenings. Reading on below for a simple recipe to make the Maharashtrian style kanda or khekda bhaji:


4-5 large onions

½ cup besan

¼ cup rice flour

1 tsp red chilli powder

½ tsp ajwain seeds

½ tsp hing (asafoetida)

1 tsp turmeric

½ tsp jeera powder

½ tsp coriander powder

Finely chopped coriander (optional) 

Salt to taste


1. Cut onions in half and make vertical slices across the cut pieces. Separate each vertical layer.

2. Put the onions in a bowl and add ajwain, hing, turmeric, chilli powder, cumin and coriander powder, salt and chopped coriander. Mix well and set aside for a few minutes.

3. When the onions start to release water, add besan and rice flour (for crispening). Keep mixing gram flour until the onions are fully coated in it. 

4. Add some water if the batter feels too thick. Avoid making it too runny, instead it should be crumbly with a medium consistency.

5. Heat oil in a frying pan.

6. Use a spoon to drop in the coated onion or pick up a small clump of onions and toss them in the fryer. Avoid overcrowding the fryer. Fry the pakoras on medium-low heat.

7. After the bhajis are fried to a deep golden-brown, take them out and drain excess oil on a wire rack. Khekda bhaji are now ready to be enjoyed! Serve hot with green mint chutney.