Crispy Fried onions or Birista are thinly sliced onions deep-fried in oil till golden brown and crisp. Use these for making curries, biryani, soups, and dals (vegan, gluten-free).
About This Recipe
Crispy Fried Onions or Birista is nothing but thinly sliced onions that are deep-fried until they turn crispy and golden brown in color.
Although they are easily available in stores these days, I like to make mine at home. Homemade birista is free of any preservatives, colors, and chemicals. It is much economical to make at home too. If frozen properly, it stays good for 5-6 months.
Birista is a must-have ingredient when making biryani and korma. You can also sprinkle it over any dish and enhance its flavor.
How To Make Crispy Fried Onions (Birista)
Peel 2 pounds (1 kg) of red onions and wash them with water. Red onions are best to make birista as they have a nice pungent flavor and they hold up well after the heavy-duty frying.
Cut the onions into thin slices evenly using a sharp knife. Make sure the slices are almost equal in size to ensure even browning. You can also use a mandolin slicer or a food processor to slice the onions.
If the onions are very pungent, you can 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 dish cloth and leave them on the counter for a few hours to get rid of the excess moisture.
Heat 4-5 cups of any neural oil in a large pan over high heat. I used sunflower oil to fry mine. The oil should be enough to cover the onion slices. When the oil is hot, add the onions.
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 initially is important to get rid of the moisture in the onion slices.
Now reduce the heat to low and fry till 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 important to get crispy birista. Leave it on the plate for 4-5 minutes. It will become crisp in this time.
Keep in mind that onions will keep browning from the residual heat even after taking them out from the oil.
Transfer in an airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months. Use as desired.
Frequently Asked Questions
Making fried onions is a relatively quick process where onion slices are fried in very hot oil over high heat. While 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 very mildly pungent.
To make birista without frying, make them in an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer at 120 degrees C (250 degrees F).
Transfer the sliced onions to the basket of the air fryer and spray with oil. Air fry for 5 minutes. Toss and keep air frying for 5 minutes and tossing them until they turn nicely browned and crisp.
Fried onions are very popular in French cuisine as well and they are used to top salads, casseroles, and other sides. But they are made in a slightly different way.
Cut the onions into rings. You can use red or white onions. Dip them in whisked eggs and then coat with flour panko mix. Now deep fry until they are crispy and browned.
Pro Tips By Neha
Use thinly and evenly sliced onions to make Birista or Beresta. They get fried evenly and the result is crispy.
Make sure that the oil is hot, while you add the onions, otherwise, they will soak oil and will become soggy. The oil should be enough to cover the thinly sliced onions well.
Be very careful once the onions turn brown in color. They burn in a wink.
Once the onions are fried, spread them on a paper towel 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 onions still turn out crispy and stay crispy for a long time.
I also like to sprinkle these crispy onions over my regular Steamed Rice, Khichdi, and Dal recipes or use them in Sandwiches, Burgers, Wraps, Rolls, or even on Pizzas.
It is also popularly used in an Asian recipe, Khowsuey, which is a soup made with coconut milk, chickpea flour, noodles, and lots of vegetables.
You can sprinkle some on your open toast, bruschetta, or salads.
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Fried Onions Recipe
- 2 pounds red onions (1 kg)
- 4-5 cups oil for frying (use any neutral oil)
- Peel the onions and wash them with water. Cut them into thin slices using a sharp knife. Make sure the slices are almost equal in size to ensure even browning. You can also use a mandolin slicer or a food processor to slice the onions.
- If the onions are very sharp, soak them in cold water for 15 minutes before slicing. You can also wear safety glasses while slicing.
- Spread the onion slices on a dish towel and leave them on the counter for a few hours to get rid of the excess moisture.
- Heat 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 onion. Never add the onion in less hot oil. They will not become crispy afterward.
- Fry on high heat for 8-10 minutes. Frying on high heat for the initial few minutes is important to get rid of the moisture. Now reduce the heat to low and fry until 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. Keep in mind that onions will brown slightly more even after taking out from the oil.
- Leave the Birista on the plate for 4-5 minutes. It will become crisp in this time. Store in an airtight container and freeze for upto 6 months. Use as desired.