This is an appropriate yet unintentional follow-up to my Guide to Ethnic Recipes post; so now that you’ve been well-educated on international recipe discovery, it’s time to roll up our sleeves, stretch and wiggle our fingers, and jump down the rabbit hole of ethnic recipe internetting.
To illustrate my rabbit hole journey – I first went to VahChef’s channel and second to Manjula’s Kitchen and managed to adapt and create my own recipe from their wonderful pakora versions. VahChef helped me with technique and Manjula killed it with her spice blend. (Thanks guys, you’re the best!)
But, if you don’t feel like stalking Indian cooks online, you can get your info from me now that I’ve distilled it down to a suitable The Gourmet Gourmand recipe. Pakora is essentially an Indian fritter made with chickpea flour and deep fried. (I also added a little bit of rice flour for added crispiness, but you can skip it if you don’t have it). Chickpea flour is also referred to as Besan. It’s more and more available in regular stores these days now that everyone and their mother thinks they have gluten intolerance, but if you can’t locate it head on over to amazon and you can order some easily. You can make pakora with just about anything (I recently made pakora with halibut and it was SO good). But, if you have it at Indian restaurants they typically will make an onion pakora or mixed vegetable pakora. Onion is what I chose to feature here because cutting up just one vegetable is way easier than cutting up 5 or 6. (Laziness prevails).
The spices in this pakora are coriander seed, fennel seed, garam masala, and chili powder; and I would not recommend skipping any of these, but probably the most critical to keep are coriander and fennel. Those spices will give you the deliciously spiced restaurant-style pakora that you are expecting. (And don’t forget salt! I can’t emphasize that enough…) In fact, the method here calls for salting the onions first to draw out water, then mixing with the besan/ rice flour combo. If all goes well you should be rewarded with a gloriously thick and sticky batter from the combo of flours and weeping onions, but if it’s a touch on the dry side feel free to add just a little more water for a better consistency. But! bear in mind that pakora needs a thick batter to hold the onions together; too thin and they won’t stick together in the crispy little clumps like we all love.I served the pakora dunked in mint-coriander chutney which is seriously one of my favorite condiments of all times. Find it over here where it is accompanied by a recipe for a classic tamarind chutney that delicious, tangy, and sweet, but unfortunately was not re-created for this photoshoot.Hope you have an amazing weekend!
- 2 large onions finely sliced
- ¼ cup cilantro roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste grated on microplane grater
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
_For the batter_
- 1 cup besan flour chickpea flour
- ¼ cup rice flour
- ½ tablespoon ground fennel
- ½ tablespoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon kashmiri chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cups vegetable oil
- In a medium bowl combine onions, cilantro, ginger, and salt. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, combine flours, spices, and salt. Mix well with a whisk or your hands. Add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and mix thoroughly with your hands until the oil coats the flour and it is the texture of wet sand.
- Next add the vegetables. Mix well to combine. The batter will become sticky as the moisture from the onion and ginger coats the flour.
- Let it rest for 5 minutes and then stir again. If the flour is not fully coating the vegetables, add 1-2 tablespoons of water until you achieve a very thick batter that just coats all the vegetables and allows the onions to stick together; it should not be runny.
- In a 10 inch frying pan (I used my cast iron skillet), add 2 cups vegetable oil. Turn heat to medium and let it come to temperature.
- Form small balls with the onion mixture with your hands, and drop these into the oil. Fry for about 7-10 minutes, flipping as needed, until pakoras are a deep golden color.
- Let rest on paper towel to drain any excess oil before serving.
- Serve with your favorite chutney. Recipes for tamarind and cilantro-mint chutney are available here.