Tasty Crispy Vegetarian PakorayA community recipe from Muhammad. 

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Cook along with your community or share your own recipe for others to enjoy!

Pakora is traditionally known in the Indian sub-continent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal etc) and their variants exist in the Middle East in the form of falafel however their main ingredient, the flour, is slightly different.

The end output is fried pakoras that are vegetarian fritters served with a sauce referred to as “chutney” and it takes an hour to prepare the batter. To prepare a large plate full of pakoras, you need the following guidelines:

The recipes start with a chickpea/gram flour (also known as Besan) batter, available from any superstore or from an Indian/Pakistani grocery or spices shop. It uses some spices and some vegetables of your choice however I will show some preferred vegetables to make them crispy and tasty.

Let’s get ready with our ingredients now.

Ingredients

Some Vegetables:

  • 1 cup Spinach or a handful of half a bunch available from the market
  • 1½ cup (around 3 medium size Potatoes julienned to 4 mm or thickly shredded using a typical kitchen shredder, you can alternatively julienne them into smaller pieces with a knife too.
  • 1 cup equivalent to 2 thinly sliced large Onions (either white, yellow or red)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped Coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic finely chopped or garlic paste

Optional Vegetables:

  • 2-3 Green Chillies finely chopped
  • Spring Onions (optional)
  • Grape Leaf (optional – two to three)
  • Green Peas
  • Any other vegetable of your choice as it is going to be lost in the batter

Spices:

  • 2 tablespoons Ground Coriander
  • 1 tablespoon Crushed Red Chilli (flakes) or less to make it less hot
  • 2 tablespoons Cumin Seeds

Other ingredients:

  • Salt: to taste (typically 1 Tablespoon full) try a test fry before frying all of them
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Cooking oil for deep frying

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1 Egg

Other Items Required:

  • A wok or pan for deep frying
  • Slotter kitchen skimmer (spoon for flipping the frying pakoras)
  • A tablespoon
  • A teaspoon
  • A bowl to mix vegetables
  • A dish or plate to take the fried pakoras out
  • An apron to keep you safe
  • All other safety apparatus to give you a sense of comfort

Method

Pakora Batter:

In a large bowl, mix all the vegetables and spices along with salt, baking soda excluding oil and also ensure that there is no need of water at this stage at all.

Now add the chickpeas flour (Besan) into the above mixture and mix it well with a tablespoon or a spatula.

Gradually add the Besan to make a thick batter and leave it for 15 minutes so that the moisture from the vegetables comes out as the finely chopped vegetables will release water so we don’t have to add water. The batter must be thick enough so that it evenly coats all the vegetables. If the batter is too thin or watery, it won’t stick to the vegetables.

Keep extra chickpea flour (Besan) to top up if it is too runny. The idea is to fill the batter in a spoon and release it after lifting the spoon a bit above. If it drops like honey or similar to that of pancake batter, it seems good. Remember that you have to pour it in small portions equivalent to a tablespoon into the hot oil in the pan so the batter should be moderately thick so that it easily shifts into the oil with an abstract shape.

You will observe that the batter becomes thinner as you let the vegetables release the moisture so keep mixing it and adding a tablespoon of chickpeas if it becomes too runny.
Now leave the batter aside and it’s time to prepare the pan for frying.

Let’s fry Pakoras:

In a medium-sized wok, bring oil to medium-high heat.

Test the heat by dropping a little bit of batter into the oil. Observe the oil if it is too hot or too cold for frying by checking if the batter floats up immediately. If the batter takes about 2 seconds to float up, then the oil is ready for frying.

Using a tablespoon, drop the batter into the oil next to each other until all the wok or pan is left with no more space. Frying only a few pakoras at a time. Do not overcrowd the wok or pan as it may drop the oil temperature to drop and the pakoras won’t cook crispy.

Flip the pakoras with slotted kitchen skimmer (recommended) until they turn medium brown in colour (don’t burn them).

Remove the pakoras from the wok using the same slotted spoon and place on plate preferable with a paper towel-lined on it to absorb excess oil.

Serve with green chutney or even tomato ketchup.

Recipe for green chutney:

Take some coriander and mint leaf, blend them in a container with a grinder of your choice or using old school style mortar and pestle. If you are using an electric grinder, add two tablespoons of water or yogurt (if you are not allergic to it) so that it becomes a paste. Add salt to taste, a pinch of coriander powder, little bit of cumin seeds like a half teaspoon and add a little bit more water to make it a thick sauce. I prefer adding some yogurt to give it a nice cool taste and thickness. You may also add avocados in it to make it thick.