Try these crispy sweetcorn bhajia (fritters) for a flavourful appetiser, served along with a spicy tomato chutney perfect for dunking in to.
Sweetcorn bhajia make for the perfect fried appetiser or snack if you’re in the mood for a lovely treat. These bhajia are one of those things that makes everyone run down the stairs.
There’s usually a few hungry mouths standing by the stove as I fry these, eagerly waiting to pinch them. I’ll often have some chai brewing on the side and a variety of chutneys assembled. It’s a powerful combination that most Indians will be incredibly familiar with.
It’s certainly a hug in bitesize form.
What are sweetcorn bhajia?
Bhajia, also knows as pakoras or bhajis are essentially crispy fritters. They can be made with a variety of different vegetables, with common examples being potatoes, onions, and sweetcorn.
The bhajia batter consists of these vegetables being tossed in chickpea flour and spices and then fried till golden and crisp. I don’t think I could choose a favourite out of the various bhajias.
However sweetcorn bhajias are definitely near the top. If you’re new to the realm of bhajias, then these sweetcorn bhajias will be the perfect way to familiarise yourself with these treats.
The sweetcorn bhajia consist of a mixture of sweetcorn puree and whole corn kernels. By incorporating both types it means you get a good amount of sweetcorn flavour in every bite. The mild sweetness that runs through the bhajia from the corn balances perfectly with the spices.
There’s a beautiful crispy exterior to these followed by a soft fluffy interior, with the occasional pop of corn. The bhajia pair beautifully with a spicy tomato chutney which I’ve included the recipe for below.
It’s a quick and easy recipe that’s bold in flavour and guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. It’s also vegan and gluten-free.
What type of sweetcorn can I use in these sweetcorn bhajia?
Fresh corn, tinned corn and frozen corn can all be used successfully here. With fresh corn there will be an additional step of cutting the kernels off from the cob and blanching them. Whilst frozen corn will require thawing out beforehand.
For best results try to use corn that is sweeter for the best overall flavour and balance in the final bhajia. My personal preference is to use fresh corn, but all will work absolutely fine.
How to serve these bhajia
There are a few ways to serve these up, and they’re great even on their own. But these sweetcorn bhajia go really well with a condiment to dunk them in to.
There’s a few chutneys I’d recommend considering:
- Coriander chutney
- Tamarind and date chutney
- Raw tomato chutney
- Tomato and daal chutney
An excellent choice would be a tomato and daal chutney, which is the premise for the spicy tomato chutney that I’ve served with these bhajia.
What you’ll need to make these sweetcorn bhajia
The full recipe can be found at the end of the blogpost
- Green chilli
- Chilli powder
- Coriander powder
- Chickpea flour
- Bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
- Lemon juice/lime juice/vinegar
The bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice may sound strange for bhajia, but they serve a very important purpose. They react together, immediately releasing carbon dioxide.
This then aerates the batter which helps to create the really light and airy interior to these fluffy bhajia. Without these ingredients the texture would be very dense.
The bhajia need to be fried immediately after adding the bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice, and therefore it’s best to add them last.
Spicy tomato chutney
This chutney is incredibly simple. It packs a bit of a kick, with some acidity from the tomatoes to cut through the heat. It’s one of my favourite chutneys for bhajia, dosa, idli and vada. The chutney comes together very easily with just a handful of spices.
The key ingredient for obtaining the correct texture is the channa daal. It helps to thicken up the chutney and create a velvety smooth finish. Adding daal and ground nuts is quite a common method used to thicken chutneys.
Some swear by adding fried gram flour ‘noodles’ (gathiya) but dried channa daal will work perfectly here.
The ingredients you’ll need for this chutney are as follows:
- Dried chillies
- Dried channa daal
- Cumin seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Chilli powder
- Jaggery or sugar
If you’re considering adjusting the heat in this chutney recipe, that can easily be done. Simply omit or reduce the number of chillies to tone it down. However on the other hand, increase the chillies if you’re brave hearted and a big spice fan.
What other variations of bhajia exist?
Bhajias can be made from any vegetables, but there are certainly some which tend to more popular than others. Aside from sweetcorn bhajia, other variations exist which include:
How to make these sweetcorn bhajia
For the bhajia
1+2) With a sharp knife cut off the corn kernels from the cob
3) Boil the corn kernels in boiling water for 2 minutes
4) Drain the kernels and immediately rinse under cold water
5) Blend around 1/3rd of the sweetcorn with the garlic, ginger, and chilli. You may need to add 1-2 tbsp of water to help this blend
6) Add this sweetcorn puree to the remaining sweetcorn kernels
7+8) Add in the chickpea flour and salt. Add the chickpea flour in increments to ensure no lumps in the batter
9+10) Once the batter reaches a dropping consistency, add in the turmeric, chilli powder and coriander powder
11) Add in the bicarbonate of soda and lemon/lime juice and mix thoroughly into the batter, it will immediately begin to aerate and bubble
12) Fry the bhajia at 180’C until golden brown, turning them over half way through
13) Transfer the bhajia to a plate lined with paper towel in order to drain off excess oil
For the chutney:
1+2) Roughly chop the tomatoes and garlic, it does not need to be precise
3) Temper the dried daal, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and dried chillies until the cumin seeds start to ‘dance’ – this takes around 1-2 minutes
4) Then add the garlic and sauté for a further 1-2 minutes
5) Add the tomatoes and the salt and mix for a minute or so or until the tomatoes start to release some liquid
6) Then add the chilli powder and jaggery or sugar
7) Cover the pan with a lid and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes, add a splash of water midway through if the mixture appears to be drying out. Do this until the mixture looks like 8)
9) Allow the mixture to cool and then remove the dried chillies for a milder chutney and blend until smooth. Keep the dried chillies in for extra heat if desired.
Questions and answers:
Can tinned or frozen sweetcorn be used?
Both can be used. For tinned sweetcorn it just requires draining and can be used immediately. It’s not necessary to boil the tinned sweetcorn. For frozen sweetcorn simply thaw out, this can be sped up by boiling for 1 minute and then rinsing under cold water, or microwaving.
Can these sweetcorn bhajia be air fried or baked?
Unfortunately not, it’s quite a wet batter and will just spread out if air fried or baked. Hence I’d strongly advise to trust the method and stick with frying these!
Is the bicarbonate of soda and lemon/lime juice absolutely essential?
For a light and fluffy interior to the bhajia, yes. The main thing is to add these ingredients last, or else you risk of the reaction running out. As soon as you add the ingredients you will immediately notice the bubbling in the batter and it aerating.
This is the best time to fry it.
Can the sweetcorn bhajia batter be prepared in advance?
Yes the batter can be prepared in advance, just don’t add the bicarbonate of soda or the lime/lemon juice until right before frying.
Can plain/all purpose flour be used instead of chickpea flour?
If you’re really stuck finding chickpea flour, then yes. But the results are OK, it’s not as great as the traditional chickpea flour method. Perhaps that’s just because I’m so accustomed to using chickpea flour for bhajia, and have done so for as long as I can remember.
For the bhajia:
- 250 g sweetcorn cob or 200g of tinned/frozen corn
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 green chilli
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp coriander powder
- 80 g chickpea flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of salt
- 1 tsp lime/lemon juice
- Oil for deep frying
For the spicy tomato chutney:
- 2 tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 dried red chillies
- 1 tbsp dried channa daal
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 inch piece of jaggery or 1/2tbsp of sugar
For the bhajia:
- Cut the corn kernels off from the cob using a sharp knife
- Boil the kernels for around 2 minutes and then drain and rinse under cold water. If using tinned corn, simply drain and proceed to the next step. If using frozen corn, thaw out or boil for 1 minute and rinse under cold water
- Blend 1/3rd of the sweetcorn with the garlic, ginger, and chilli into a puree. You may need to add 1-2tbsp of water to the blender
- Add the sweetcorn puree to the remaining sweetcorn in a mixing bowl
- Gradually add the chickpea flour and salt, and mix to combine until it forms a dropping consistency
- Then add the turmeric, chilli powder and coriander powder and mix once more
- Heat up oil in a saucepan to around 180’C ready for deep frying
- Right before frying, add the bicarbonate of soda and lemon/lime juice to the bhajia batter and mix to combine. The batter will immediately aerate and bubble
- Fry the bhajias using around 1/2tbsp of batter each. These will immediately puff up and increase in size as they’re being fried. Fry till golden brown on one side, flipping the bhajias half way to ensure even cooking
- Transfer the bhajias to a paper towel lined plate to drain off any excess oil
For the spicy tomato chutney:
- Roughly chop the tomatoes and garlic
- Temper the dried daal, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and dried chillies in oil on a medium heat until the cumin seeds start to sizzle and ‘dance’ – this takes around 1-2 minutes
- Then add the garlic and sauté for a further 1-2 minutes
- Add the tomatoes and salt and mix for a minute or so until the tomatoes begin to release some liquid
- Add the chilli powder and the jaggery or sugar and mix to combine
- Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5-7 minutes, add a splash of water midway through if the mixture appears to be drying out and catching
- Allow the mixture to cool and then blend till smooth. You can remove the dried chillies prior to blending to reduce the heat if desired
If you loved these sweetcorn bhajia, you’re bound to love my Thai Sweetcorn Fritters too! Tap the image below to take you to the recipe!