Celeriac Bhaji – A Low Carb Indian Side Dish

Celeriac bhaji is a simple low carb Indian dish of fried celery root, onions, garlic, ginger, chilies, and whole spices. Based on my family potato "Aloo" Bhaji recipe. this low carb Celeriac bhaji contains only 9g of net carbs per serving!
Celeriac Bhaji in a pan
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Celeriac Bhaji, two words that may seem very strange together or at all. Kind of looks like I just randomly typed two words and named this recipe, but this recipe for celeriac (celery root) bhaji is a low carb version of my family’s aloo (potato) bhaji recipe. 

Although this dish will never be a true aloo bhaji, because as the name “Aloo” implies, it is a potato based dish. But we have come to call this celery root version, “Low Carb Aloo Bhaji” because it honestly has the exact texture and taste as the original. 

Much like its high carb potato counterpart, or my low carb zucchini bhaji, this is often served as a vegetable side dish, accompanying various fish and meat curries on the dinner table.

Celeriac Bhaji with Beef Korma and Cauliflower rice

Whenever I join my family for an Indian meal, there is always some type of aloo on the table, whether that be aloo bhaji, aloo gobi, or some other spicy fried potato dish. Usually with lots of chilies, fried whole spices, turmeric, and fresh cilantro. The smell is heavenly and it’s the perfect side dish to accompany some kebabs or curry. 

When I decided to eat low carb permanently a few years ago, I was so focused on finding a suitable replacement for the many cups of basmati rice I was eating a day, I forgot to find a replacement for one of my favourite Indian side dishes.

To make a low carb aloo bhaji, I of course couldn’t use potatoes, there is just not a reasonable amount I could eat that was low in carbs. 1 medium 3” potato (about 200g) has around 31g of net carbs! Now in the same amount of celeriac (200g) you only have about 11g of net carbs! 

A 64% decrease in net carbs means you can enjoy this Indian side dish almost guilt free! I swear if it weren’t for the very slight, yet extremely pleasant taste of celery, I wouldn’t know this wasn’t a potato bhaji.

What Is Celeriac?

If you are on a low carb diet and you don’t know what celeriac is, well, you’re welcome. Celeriac is that bug ugly, brown mass with all the weird little roots sticking out of it you have strolled right pass in the grocery store a thousand times.

Well back up that cart because you need to grab one of these bad boys next time.

Raw unpeeled celeriac
Celeriac, or, celery root as found at the grocer

Celeriac is also known as celery root and that is exactly what it is, the root of the celery plant. Once you peel back the thin brown skin, much like potato skin, there is a white fleshy, kind of starchy meaty vegetable underneath. It looks like a potato but feels slightly more spongy when raw. The taste is similar to celery, but it is faint, like a if you took a potato and very lightly sprinkled it with celery salt. 

Celeriac is, in my opinion the best low carb replacement for potatoes. It is the only low carb vegetable that I have been able to consistently fry to a golden brown like a potato without ruining it, which is why it is the perfect vegetable to replace the potatoes in this low carb bhaji, or any recipe that normally uses potato for that matter.

Pan Fried Celeriac for low carb aloo bhaji
Pan fried golden brown celeriac

How To Make Celeriac Bhaji

This low carb “aloo” bhaji replacement contains the following ingredients. 

Step By Step Directions

  1. Start by preparing and chopping the ingredients. Clean and peel the celeriac using a sharp knife to remove the small finer roots near the base. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the soft brown skin. Once peeled, cut the celeriac into bite sized cubes. Slice the onions into thin slices, and mince the garlic and ginger very fine uses repeated passes with a knife. Raw celeriac cut into bite size pieces
  2. In a large fry pan, melt ghee over medium heat and add the chopped celeriac. Salt the celeriac well to add flavour and help draw out the moisture. Fry until the celery root begins to brown. You are looking for a golden brown the the edges of the pieces which may take 15-20 minutes of frying. Stir occasionally to prevent burning or sticking.  
  3. Once the celeriac has browned, push the pieces to the sides of the pan to make a well in the center, exposing the bottom of the pan. Add the remaing butter/oil, and add the panch phoran or whole spices to the well to fry. Fry until the whole spices start popping and jumping around. Less than one minute, do not let them burn. Toasting Panch Phoran with fried celeriac
  4. After the spices begin to pop, add the ground turmeric, sliced onions, garlic, ginger, and chilies, stir to combine. If the pan is looking dry add some more butter or oil to crisp and brown the onions.  
  5. Continue to fry, stirring occasionally until the onions have become limp but started to brown on the edges. 5-8 minutes.
  6. Before serving, stir in fresh chopped cilantro and drizzle with fresh lemon or lime juice.
Celeriac Bhaji in a pan
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Celeriac Bhaji - Low Carb "Aloo" Bhaji

Celeriac Bhaji is a low carb Indian recipe based on a traditional potato, or Aloo bhaji. It is a fragrant side dish of fried celery root, onions, garlic, and ginger, in whole spices and turmeric.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Desi, Indian
Keyword: Desi, Desi Keto, Indian, low carb, Vegetarian
Servings: 5 side servings
Calories: 145kcal

Equipment

  • Knife & Cutting Board
  • Large Fry Pan/Wok

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter/oil/ghee
  • 1 large celeriac (celery root) about 1 pound peeled, and cubed.
  • 1 tablespoon panch phoran whole spices see below for recipe
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric ground
  • 2 whole red/green hot chilies fresh or dried
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger root minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon/lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Panch Phoran (Indian Five Spice Mix)

Instructions

  • Clean and peel the celeriac using a sharp knife to remove the small finer roots near the base. Use a vegetable peeler to remove to soft brown skin. Once peeled, cut the celeriac into bite sized cubes.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter/oil/ghee in a large fry pan or a wok until melted and add the chunks of celeriac. Salt well to help draw out the moisture. Fry for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally until the outsides begin to turn a crispy golden brown.
  • Once the celeriac as turned a golden brown, use a spatula to push the pieces to the edge of the pan to make a well, revealing the bottom of the pan. Melt remaining butter and add the panch phoran and turmeric hot butter to fry for approximately 1 minute, or until he whole spices begin to pop, at which point add the onions, garlic, ginger and hot chilies. Stir to combine and continue to fry.
  • Fry until the onions begin to turn a crispy golden brown, approximately 8-10 minutes. Add more butter/oil/ghee as needed to fry the bhaji.
  • Before serving, drizzle with fresh lemon/lime juice, and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

Notes

See post above for images and tips to make this low carb Indian bhaji
This recipe can be served as a vegetable side dish alongside curry, kebabs, or other grilled meats. It can also be eaten on it's own as a low carb vegetarian meal. 
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Nutrition

Calories: 145kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.7g | Protein: 2.4g | Fat: 9.9g | Sodium: 450mg | Potassium: 410mg | Fiber: 2.9g | Sugar: 2.4g | Sugar Alcohols: 1.8g | Net Carbs: 9g
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Do I need to use whole spices?

No you don’t but you really should. They add a much deeper flavour and texture than ground pantry spices. It is not hard to find whole spices now a days you can pick them up at most grocers, bulk food stores, or online

If you don’t want to buy large bags of each of these whole spice, I recommend getting some Panch Phoran. It is a whole spice mix that is great for starting curries and bhajis, and a bag will last a while.

What is Panch Phoran?

Panch Phoran is simply and blend of five spices commonly used in indian cooking. Some refer to Panch Phoran as Indian five spice mix. 

You can buy pre-mixed Panch Phoran at Indian grocers, bulk food stores, or online

You can also make your own panch phoran my mixing together the whole spices.

To make panch phoran mix equal parts:

  • cumin seeds
  • fenugreek seeds
  • black mustard seeds
  • nigella seeds/black cumin seed
  • fennel seeds

Store in a sealed bag or jar with the rest of your spices. I use this spice mix as a starter for many of my curries using the same method seen here. A quick fry in oil to toast the spices and flavour the oil is all you need to bring some really authentic Indian flavours to your cooking. 

What To Serve With Celeriac Bhaji

Celeriac Bhaji with Low carb butter Chicken
Celeriac bhaji with a spicy low carb butter chicken

I have always enjoyed bhaji’s like this or my zucchini bhaji as a side dish, or as part of a larger Indian meal. Generally paired with kebabs, chicken curry, fish korma, or any of your low carb Desi favourites. 

Since this dish is fully vegetarian, it could also be enjoyed as a part of a flavourful low carb vegetarian Indian meal.

Celeriac Bhaji, Malaysian Beef Rendang, Cauliflower Rice

Make Ahead Tips, Leftovers, and Meal Prep

This dish keeps in the fridge fairly well, just keep it in a sealed container for the sake of the rest of your food. There are a lot of aromatics and spices in here that you might not want lingering in your fridge. 

Reheat in the microwave or the oven until warm. It should keep for up to a week in the fridge as it has fairly stable ingredients that don’t spoil easily which makes it a great candidate for meal prepping!

Time To Dive In!

Another family favourite for you to enjoy with your family! I hope you like this spicy and savoury Indian inspired celeriac bhaji, or as we call it “low carb aloo bhaji” alongside your favourite Indian meals, and if you did, then share this with your loved ones now!

Celeriac Bhaji with hot green chilies

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