Birista (Crispy Fried Onions)

5 from 7 votes

Birista is thinly sliced onions deep-fried in oil until golden brown and crisp. They are used to make curries, biryani, soups, and dals. Make them perfectly using my easy recipe.

Try more recipes using onions as the star ingredient – Sirka Pyaz, Laccha Onions, and Onion Marmalade.

Crispy fried onions (birista) kept in a bowl.
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Mathurs take their food very seriously. Even everyday food is cooked to perfection and made to taste superior.

My mom used to make a big batch of birista and freeze it. She used it to make a variety of biryanis, curries, and kormas, but I appreciated its other use more.

Once the dals, curries, kormas, pulaos, or even khichdi were ready and transferred into the serving bowl, they were sprinkled with a generous sprinkling of these crispy fried onions.

It’s very difficult to explain the taste and texture they added to the dishes, but all I can say is that I am glad I followed her footsteps, and now my food also tastes as delicious as my mom’s.

About Birista

Birista is thinly sliced, deep-fried onions.

Although readily available in stores, I like to make mine at home. Homemade birista is free of preservatives, colors, and chemicals and is much more economical.

Birista is a must-have ingredient when making biryani, kabab, and korma. You can also sprinkle it over Yellow Moong Dal Khichdi, Toor Dal, Peas Pulao, etc., to elevate their flavor.

Ingredients

Red Onions are best for making birista as they have a nice pungent flavor and hold up well after heavy-duty frying.

Oil – Use a neutral, high-heat oil like sunflower or canola oil. Ghee would also work.

How To Make Birista

Preparation

Peel 2 pounds (1 kg) of red onions and wash them with water.

Slice the onions into thin slices evenly using a mandoline slicer, food processor, or sharp knife. Make sure the slices are almost equal in size to ensure even browning.

Tip – If the onions are very pungent, soak them in cold water for 15 minutes before slicing. You can also wear safety glasses while slicing to avoid tears.

Sliced onions in a bowl.

Spread the onion slices over a dishcloth and leave them on the counter for a few hours to eliminate the excess moisture.

Onion slices spread on a kitchen cloth.

Make Birista

Heat 4-5 cups of neutral oil in a large pan over high heat. The oil should be enough to cover the onion slices.

When the oil is hot, add the sliced onions.

NoteNever add the onions in less hot oil. They will not become crispy afterward.

Fry on high heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Frying on high heat is essential to remove the moisture in the onion slices.

Onion slices added to hot oil.

Now reduce the heat to low and fry till the onions are golden brown, stirring frequently.

Browned onions in oil.

Once browned, remove them on a plate lined with paper towels and spread them on the plate. This step is essential to get crispy birista. Leave it on the plate for 4-5 minutes or until they become crispy.

Note – Onions go from perfectly golden brown to burned in a few seconds. Please keep a close eye while frying them.

Remember that onions keep browning from the residual heat after removing them from the oil.

Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months. Use as desired.

Ready crispy fried onions spread on a plate lined with paper towels.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between crispy onions and caramelized onions?

Making fried onions is relatively quick, and onion slices are fried in hot oil over high heat. In contrast, caramelization is a slower process where onions are sauteed in oil over medium heat until they are browned and softened. Caramelized onions are soft, sweet, salty, and oily, while fried onions are crispy and mildly pungent.

How to make birista without deep frying?

To make birista without frying, make them in an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 200°C (400°F). Transfer the sliced onions to the air fryer basket and spray them with oil. Air fry for 5 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 120°C (248°F). Toss and keep air frying for 5 minutes and tossing them until they turn nicely browned and crisp.

Pro Tips By Neha

To make Beresta, use thinly and evenly sliced onions. They are fried evenly, and the result is crispy.

Make sure that the oil is hot when you add the onions. Otherwise, they will soak in oil and become soggy. The oil should be enough to cover the thinly sliced onions well.

Be very careful once the onions turn brown. They burn in a wink.

Once the onions are fried, spread them on a paper tissue to soak up the extra oil.

Before storing them, let them cool down completely.

The leftover oil can be used to make dosa, uttapam, or parathas. It has a lovely aroma of fried onions.

Some people add cornstarch to the onions to make them crispy, but I never do that, and my birista still turns out crispy and stays crisp for a long time.

Storage Suggestions

Birista will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

The ideal way to store them is in an airtight container or ziplock bag in the freezer. They can be kept for up to 6 months.

Pull out the container, remove the birista, and use it in the recipe. There is no need to thaw it.

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Birista (Crispy Fried Onions) are thinly sliced onions deep-fried in oil until golden brown and crisp. They are used to make curries, biryani, soups, and dals. Make them perfectly using my easy recipe.
5 from 7 votes

Birista Recipe (Crispy Fried Onions)

Birista (Crispy Fried Onions) are thinly sliced onions deep-fried in oil until golden brown and crisp. They are used to make curries, biryani, soups, and dals. Make them perfectly using my easy recipe.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 20 people

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds red onions (1 kg)
  • 4-5 cups oil for frying (use any neutral oil)
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Instructions 

Preparation

  • Peel the onions and wash them with water.
  • Slice the onions into thin slices evenly using a mandoline slicer, food processor, or sharp knife. Make sure the slices are almost equal in size to ensure even browning.
  • Tip – If the onions are very pungent, soak them in cold water for 15 minutes before slicing. You can also wear safety glasses while slicing to avoid tears.
  • Spread the sliced onions over a dishcloth and leave them on the counter for a few hours to eliminate the excess moisture.

Make Birista

  • Heat 4-5 cups of neutral oil in a large pan over high heat. The oil should be enough to cover the onion slices.
  • When the oil is hot, add the sliced onions.
  • Note – Never add the onions in less hot oil. They will not become crispy afterward.
  • Fry on high heat for 8-10 minutes. Frying on high heat is essential to remove the moisture in the onion slices.
  • Now reduce the heat to low and fry till the onions are golden brown. Keep stirring very frequently.
  • Once the onions are browned, remove them on a plate lined with paper towels and spread them on the plate. This step is essential to get crispy birista. Leave it on the plate for 4-5 minutes or until they become crispy.
  • Note – Onions go from perfectly golden brown to burned in a few seconds. Please keep a close eye while frying them.
  • Remember that onions keep browning from the residual heat after removing them from the oil.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months. Use as desired.

Notes

Use thinly and evenly sliced onions to make Beresta. They get fried evenly, and the result is crispy.
Make sure that the oil is hot when you add the onions. Otherwise, they will soak up the oil and become soggy. The oil should be enough to cover the thinly sliced onions well.
Be very careful once the onions turn brown. They burn in a wink.
Before storing them, let them cool down completely.

Nutrition

Calories: 20kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 2mg, Potassium: 73mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 12mg, Iron: 1mg
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9 Comments

  1. Hello neha, Thanks for posting this..i always shy away from making these thinking it needs a lot of oil. Great tip about varying the heat level – that should prevent burning and still give a crunch!