Courgette and leek bhajis (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Courgette and leek bhajis with cucumber and coconut raita. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It has reached the time of year that sees the end of my supply of home-grown courgettes. The three plants I sowed from seed have been growing happily, side by side, in a grow-bag, in my greenhouse over the past few weeks. The plants have given me a good, steady and tasty crop of yellow and green globe-shaped fruits. I am sad to see their demise.

Yellow and green globe courgettes. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

To use up the last of the crop, this week’s recipe is for a mildly spiced, Indian-style fritter, based on a classic takeaway favourite, the onion bhaji. The flour used is chickpea (or gram/besan) flour which very is earthy and nutty in flavour, and the flavourings used are fragrant rather than over-powering: cumin, fenugreek, black onion seeds and toasted sesame seeds. Add some minced green chilli or chopped fresh coriander for some zesty freshness if you like.

Gram flour, ground fenugreek, ground cumin and toasted sesame seeds with black onion seeds. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serve the bhajis as a starter with wedges of lemon to squeeze over, some fresh coriander, and a traditional cucumber and yogurt salad.

Bhajis sprinkled with fresh coriander and accompanied with lemon wedges and a coconut yogurt and cucumber salad.

Makes: 15


  • 190g chickpea (gram or besan) flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200g courgette, trimmed and coarsely grated
  • 1 small leek, trimmed and shredded
  • 1 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp black onion seeds
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • Sunflower oil for deep-frying
  • Fresh coriander and lemon to serve

For the cucumber salad

  • 150g cucumber, trimmed and chopped
  • Small bunch fresh chives, chopped
  • A few sprigs fresh mint, leaves chopped
  • 100g free-from coconut yogurt
  • Salt to taste
  1. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the courgette, leek, spices and seeds. Mix well. Put to one side. Heat the oil for deep-frying to 180°C, then mix 75ml cold water into the spiced vegetables to make a thick batter. Add the water just before cooking to make sure it stays thick.

    Preparing the bhaji batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. Use 2 dessert spoons to form scoops of batter and gently drop into the oil – cook 7-8 scoops at a time for 7-8 minutes, turning in the oil, until golden and crisp. Don’t make the bhajis too big otherwise they won’t cook all the way through. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm while you prepare the other remaining batter.

    Courgette and leek bhajis in the fryer. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
  3. For the cucumber salad, mix all the ingredients together and season to taste.
  4. Serve the bhajis while they are warm, sprinkled with fresh coriander and accompanied with lemon wedges and the cucumber salad.

    Ready to serve, freshly cooked courgette bhaji. Image: Kathryn Hawkins


2 thoughts on “Courgette and leek bhajis (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

  1. Hello Kathryn! I rarely deep fry our food but this was such an intriguing vegan recipe that I had to try it. As it got near supper time, I took my vegetables out of the fridge, opened the flour cupboard… and realized I was out of chickpea flour! The closest substitution I could think of was peanut flour, and I have to say it worked out very well. The bhaji were a total success: my husband even asked if I could make more. And so I will, and I might stick to the peanut flour, as up until this recipe I had had unhappy results with it. The point you make about adding water at the last minute applies here too, by the way. Very shortly thereafter the batter became harder to work with, the peanut flour having absorbed it very quickly.
    Oh, and for dessert tonight I had… rhubarb compote!
    Thank you for the many inspirations, Kathryn. I wish you a very nice weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bonsoir Joëlle 🙂 Thanks for sharing your bhaji variation. I love peanut flour, thanks for reminding me to buy some more. When I first started using it, I struggled to get used to the fact that you need to use less flour than usual because it absorbs liquid (as does coconut flour, another favourite of mine), but the flavour is divine, and I will certainly be trying your variation. By the way. the opposite effect happened when I used the chickpea flour first time around. I left the batter to stand and all the juices came out of the courgette and made it too runny! Enjoy the rest of you weekend, I have a pile of plums and tomatoes in the kitchen so my Sunday will be spent jam and chutney making. Best wishes to you both 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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