Masala Blooming Onion

We put a South Asian spin on the steakhouse side—and haven’t looked back ever since.

  • Serves

    2 servings

  • Cook

    35 minutes


By Fatima Khawaja

Published on November 3, 2022

Welcome to SAVEUR’s column on making the most of local produce according to chef and recipe developer Fatima Khawaja. Here you’ll find creative, unfussy meal ideas plus plenty of cooking advice—like what to do with that bumper crop of zucchini or how to store delicate heirloom tomatoes. Follow along, and you’ll learn how to turn the season’s bounty into easy plant-based meals that’ll be on the table in under an hour.

It’s hard to hate on blooming onion, that crispy pull-apart appetizer popularized in the 1990s by Outback Steakhouse, but the Pakistani in me has always thought the dish could use a bit more mirch masala, or spice. That’s why I created this recipe flavored with warm, earthy cumin and perfumy coriander that pairs perfectly with yogurt-herb dip (or a cilantro or tamarind chutney). Any leftover sauce is great with kebabs, or even just potato chips.


For the yogurt dip:

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • ½ tsp. plain full-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the blooming onion:

  • 1 large sweet onion (such as Vidalia)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. chaat masala, plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling


Step 1

Make the yogurt dip: To a small skillet set over medium heat, add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and chile flakes and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 45 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool, about 15 minutes.

Step 2

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sour cream, cilantro, mint, lemon juice, and cooled garlic-chile oil. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and set aside.

Step 3

Make the blooming onion: Trim the top of the onion and remove the peel. Place it cut end down (root end up) on a cutting board. Using the tip of your knife, starting just under the root (not cutting through the root), make deep incisions into the center of the onion, down to the cutting board, ¼ inch apart. Flip the onion over and use your thumbs to fan open the “petals,” keeping the onion whole.

Step 4

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, buttermilk, and eggs and set by the stove. In a second large bowl, whisk together the flour, cayenne, chaat masala, coriander, cumin, garlic powder, turmeric, and salt. Set the mixture by the stove.

Step 5

Dip the onion into the milk mixture, making sure the liquid gets into all of the crevices, then transfer the onion to the dry mixture and dredge well. Repeat, dipping the onion back into the milk mixture, followed by the flour mixture. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate until ready to fry.

Step 6

Fit a rack into a rimmed baking sheet and set it by the stove. To a deep heavy-bottomed pot fitted with a deep-fry thermometer, add oil to a depth of 4 inches and turn the heat to medium-high. When the thermometer reads 400°F, use a spider skimmer or slotted spoon to carefully lower the onion into the oil. Fry, maintaining a temperature of 375ºF and turning occasionally, until deep golden brown, crispy all over, and soft in the center when pierced with a knife, 5–7 minutes. Transfer the onion to the rack to drain, then sprinkle with additional salt and chaat masala. Serve with the yogurt dip on the side.

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