Last night, I made pakoras for dinner. We were out of onions, but a neighbor was kind enough to bring one over; in exchange, we all had pakoras and wine on the porch. It was a lovely evening. Pakoras are usually a snack/appetizer, but they also make a good meal if you eat enough of them! I figure there’s enough nutrients, between the chick pea flour and veggies, to make them a decent dinner, right? 😉
My pakoras are thicker/heavier than those you get in an Indian restaurant, but they are still so tasty. I have found that the trick is to fry them correctly. I am NOT much of a fryer. I did not grow up eating fried food, and frying kind of scares me – all that hot oil! Ugh. I got burned on my first batch of pakoras yesterday, but it was worth it. 🙂 Anyways, the oil has to be hot enough to cook them almost as soon as they enter the oil – if not, the pakoras end up kind of soggy and absorb more oil. When the oil is hot enough, the pakoras cook quickly, have a beautiful brown color, and are not greasy. However, it’s scary to get the oil hot enough – it needs to be around 350-375 degrees! I used a deep cooking pot so that there wasn’t any splatter. I also used less oil – about 3/4 of an inch – than most recipes call for, and it was more than sufficient.
A time-saving trick with pakoras is to chop the veggies and mix them directly into the batter, instead of coating individual pieces of veggie. This also allows you to mix veggies together, if you choose.
I used spinach, onion, and zucchini in these pakoras. Zucchini is not traditional, but it was delicious.
I didn’t really measure ingredients, but here is the basic recipe (serves 4-6 as a meal, more as an appetizer):
2 cups chick pea flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
chili powder, to taste
about 1 1/4- 1 1/2 cups water
Veggies of your choosing: for this amount of batter, I used 1 zucchini, chopped; 1 onion, chopped; and 1/2 bag of spinach, chopped
oil for frying
Mix the dry ingredients. Add water and whisk well until a thick batter forms – about the consistency of pancake batter. (Note: the batter will taste overly salty; when you add the veggies and cook the pakoras, the salt becomes much less prominent).
Heat the oil to about 375 degrees. Divide the batter among your veggies, and mix well to combine so that the veggies are well-coated with batter. Drop tablespooonfuls of the batter-coated veggies into the oil; cook a few minutes on each side.
Serve with tamarind sauce (mix sugar, tamarind paste, and water) and coriander relish (I buy mine; it is a spicy mix of cilantro and chilis. I usually use Nirav brand.)
I know a lot of people do not like frying, but trust me, this is one recipe that really needs to be fried. Baked pakoras just don’t work. Baked samosas, baked doughnuts, baked fries – all of those work. Baked pakoras, not so much. The frying doesn’t take long, and if you do it right, not much oil is absorbed, so it’s not that unhealthy. Trust me on this one.
Sunday running roundup: Monday, 3; Tuesday, 0; Wednesday, 5.5; Thursday, 3; Friday, 5; Saturday, 1; Sunday, 14.5. Total: 32. Not bad! I meant to do 10 miles today but was enjoying myself so much that I added on a few extra.