Try these Halloumi Bhajia for an Indian inspired take on a halloumi fritter. It’s salty, spicy, and served with sweet chilli sauce.
Halloumi is a vibe, anytime, anywhere.
And any recipe that starts with the word halloumi immediately has my heart. It’s like the cheese has a chokehold on my entire thought process. Once I see or hear the world halloumi, that’s it.
Chances are if you’re reading this, you understand this feeling all too well. There is a huge community of people that share the same love of halloumi. But make it crispy and we’re on to something entirely different.
These Halloumi Bhajia are definitely a fusion of flavours and ingredients. But they come together to create something that is not only delicious, but something that truly deserves to be together.
Halloumi Bhajia (Pakora)
I know it sound absolutely wild but just trust me on this and keep reading.
Just imagine a crispy morsel laced with salty halloumi and spices. Fried till golden crispy perfection before being dunked into sweet chilli sauce. We’re hitting all the flavour notes needed for an epic appetiser just there.
Halloumi bhajia are essentially small cheesy fritters that also carry the spices traditionally used around India and many other South Asian cuisines. Bhajia’s are quite a traditional North Indian dish so pairing it with halloumi may seem rather far fetched.
But it works. And it tastes incredible.
Another big factor that makes for an epic appetiser is how quickly and how easily it can be made. Considering that these Halloumi Bhajias can be ready within half an hour I think you’ll agree it’s a no brainer.
Sweet Chilli Sauce
A super simple two ingredient sauce that goes perfectly with these bhajia. You can’t go wrong with that!
Halloumi has always paired well with sweet chilli sauces or hot honey. So it makes sense to pair these Halloumi Bhajia with the same condiment.
What is halloumi?
Halloumi is essentially a firm, white Cypriot cheese that’s usually made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk. Though occasionally it may also be made from cow’s milk.
It has a high melting point and due to this it holds shape during cooking which allows it to be a perfect choice for grilling. Similar to paneer in that respect, which is an Indian cheese with the same properties.
Flavour wise it’s very salty. It also has a lovely freshness but overall it’s fairly neutral. You can often buy halloumi which has been coated in mint leaves.
It is usually available in the cheese/dairy section of most supermarkets.
Texture wise, halloumi has quite a squeaky chew which is rather delightful. I say chewy but it’s still soft and not at all rubbery or tough.
The texture and flavour profile of haloumi is one that I find incredibly more-ish and addictive.
What are bhajia/pakora/bhaji?
To put it briefly, bhajia are essentially crispy fritters.
They’re usually lightly spiced and made with a chickpea flour (besan) batter. They can consist of various ingredients and fillings and are always a great way to use up leftover vegetables. They also often have paneer inside them too.
They’re deep fried, making them a real treat but also the most warming, comforting, crispy treat.
The types of bhajia can range from onions, potatoes, paneer, cauliflower and so many more. I’ve previously shared my Sweetcorn Bhajia recipe which is also a huge family favourite of ours.
And they were also the bhajia I made whilst I was competing on MasterChef UK!
You may also call these halloumi pakora or halloumi bhajis, though the latter term does irk me. Pakora and bhajia are interchangeable terms.
In India the term bhaji refers to various types of curries, rather than fritters. I’m not entirely sure how the term bhaji came about but that’s what’s been coined around many Indian takeout spots in the UK.
Are there other types of bhajia?
Oh you bet there are.
A few examples are:
- Sweetcorn bhajia
- Potato bhajia
- Daal bhajia (lentil bhajia)
- Mixed vegetable bhajia
- Paneer bhajia
- Chilli bhajia
- Cauliflower bhajia
- Mushroom bhajia
But there are also so many more!
Bhajias are versatile little things and the batter can be used for pretty much any variation you might think of.
If you’re in a bhajia experimentation mood, let your mind run wild and just try it out!
Halloumi inside bhajia? What’s the rationale?
These halloumi bhajia are inspired by paneer bhajia. Which basically just consist of grated paneer mixed with spices inside the bhajia batter.
The great thing about paneer and the main reason it works in bhajia is because it does not melt. The same rationale applies to halloumi which is also a non-melting cheese.
Whilst paneer is incredible and honestly the cheese that rules my heart and soul. I have to say that halloumi bhajia trumps paneer bhajia. At least in my opinion.
And please don’t come for me for saying that. I know it’s controversial! But a block of halloumi has more flavour than a block of paneer!
The salty streaks of grated halloumi running through each bhajia is honestly a winner for me.
What you’ll need
The full recipe can be found at the end of the blogpost
For the Halloumi Bhajia you’ll require:
- Spring onions – these are scallions for US readers
- Ground cumin
- Kashmiri chilli powder – this is a mild chilli powder, the closest substitute would be paprika if this isn’t accessible for you
- Ground turmeric
- Mango powder – also known as amchoor/amchur. This will be readily available at South Asian supermarkets. If you can’t find this, substitute with lemon juice
- Garam masala – a small amount helps to round off the ‘spiced’ flavour
- Green chilli
- Fresh coriander
- Chickpea flour
- Cornflour – this is sold as cornflour in the UK and corn starch in the US. It helps to make the bhajia extra crispy
- Baking powder
- Neutral flavoured oil for deep frying
For the sweet chilli sauce you’ll require:
How to make these Halloumi Bhajia (photos)
Let’s start with the bhajia:
1) Roughly chop the halloumi and place into a mixing bowl
2) Add finely sliced spring onions to the halloumi
3) Then add in the ground spices and salt
4) Next add in the coriander, garlic, ginger, and green chilli
5) Give the halloumi, spices, and aromatics a good mix in order to incorporate
6) Add the chickpea flour and cornflour (corn starch for US readers)
7) Begin to mix in the spices. It will be quite dry at this stage – so don’t worry about that
8) Once the flours have been mixed in, gradually add the water whilst mixing at the same time. It will form a thick, sticky, but cohesive batter
9) Finally add the oil and baking powder and mix once more
10) Take a heaped tbsp of the mixture and form into a rough round shape
11) Fry the bhajia in batches until golden brown
12) Once golden brown, you can then remove the bhajia with a slotted spoon
13) And finally transfer to a paper towel lined tray. This is in order to drain excess oil
How to make Halloumi Bhajia (video)
Frequently asked questions
Can these bhajia be air fried or baked?
I have not tried baking them, however the air frying did work. And it was quite a decent result in the air fryer. Though deep frying does still take a strong lead.
Air fry at 190’C for around 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. My air fryer is very old now and a bit temperamental so you may need to adjust the parameters slightly for yours. But I’ll be getting a new one soon!
Can these Halloumi Bhajia be made vegan?
I’ve seen plant based ‘halloumi’ appearing in the supermarkets (in the UK). But I haven’t tried them myself. If they taste similar to diary based halloumi then yes, this would absolutely be possible.
Substitute the honey in the sweet chilli sauce for maple syrup or agave.
Are these gluten free?
Yes, there is now gluten in these bhajia, thus making them entirely gluten free.
If you enjoyed this recipe
Please do let me know! Leave a review and a rating below, I’d love to know how you got on.
Until then, happy cooking!
For the halloumi bhajia:
- 450 g halloumi
- 4 spring onions finely sliced (these are scallions for US readers)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp mango powder also known as amchoor/amchur
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 green chilli finely sliced (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic grated/minced
- 2 " ginger grated/minced
- Handful fresh coriander roughly chopped
- 100 g chickpea flour also known as gram flour
- 30 g cornflour this is cornflour for UK readers and corn starch for US readers
- 4-5 tbsp of water
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp neutral flavoured oil e.g. sunflower, vegetable, rapeseed
- Neutral flavoured oil for deep frying
For the sweet chilli sauce:
- 6 tbsp sriracha sauce
- 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup/agave
For the bhajia:
- First start by roughly chopping the halloumi, then transfer to a mixing bowl
- Next add the sliced spring onions to the bowl
- Then add in the salt, turmeric, cumin, chilli powder, and mango powder. Also add in the coriander, garlic, ginger, and green chilli. Mix to combine
- Add in the chickpea flour and cornflour (corn starch for US readers) to the halloumi and spices mixture. Mix to combine, it will be quite a dry mixture at this stage so don’t worry
- Then gradually add in the water whilst mixing at the same time until it forms a thick, sticky, and cohesive batter
- Finally add in the 1tbsp of oil and the baking powder and mix once more
- Heat the oil to 180’C for deep frying. Take a heaped tbsp of the mixture and form into a rough ‘round’ shape. Then deep fry in batches until golden brown all over
- Remove the halloumi bhajia and transfer aside to a paper towel lined tray to drain any excess oil
For the sweet chilli sauce:
- Simply mix together the sriracha and honey together