Pakoras: Prep 30 mins Cook 5 mins Eat 35 mins
Mint Chutney: Prep 10 mins Eat 10 mins
Tamarind Sauce: Prep 2 mins Cook 8 mins Eat 10 mins
Pakoras were new to me. They have the dreaded “fried” word in the directions, so I probably would have steered clear of them, had I not tasted them at the Samosa House first. Our Guest Chef, Zenith encouraged me to make these at our Indian Street Food class and I’m so glad she did. They are delicious and different than most items that may rise up from the deep fryer.
Pakoras are vegetables fried in a batter of garbanzo bean flour, aka chickpea flour, aka as gram flour, aka besam, as it is called in India. The besam adds protein to this vegetarian snack. And yes, while they are fried in oil, the rest of the ingedients are healthy plant-based foods.
When we made the Pakoras in class, we used cauliflower florets, sliced potato, sliced zucchini and spinach leaves (yes each leaf is dipped into the batter…way better than potato chips), but you could use whatever vegetables you like. The besam coating on the cooked vegetables gave these bite size snacks a nutty flavor with a chewy consistency. We added flavor ingredients such as onion, spices and chile. While pakoras are addictive, the garbanzo bean coating makes them filling.
It’s important when frying to keep your oil at a 350-375º temperature, so that the veggies don’t absorb the oil. You can use a thermometer that hangs on a pan. You could test the hot oil by tossing a little batter in it to see if it sizzles. If it begins to smoke, the temperature is too high. I have an electric deep fryer that is easy to operate, since you can place the dial to the temperature desired and it can be used outdoors to keep the frying smell out of the house.
The traditional way to eat Pakoras is with a mint chutney or a tamarind sauce drizzled over them. These were easy to make and we used them with other snacks such as the Samosas and the Papri Chat. The mint chutney added some spice and freshness, while the tamarind sauce added a sweet/sour zing. Tamarind is a pod found on a tree and used throughout Asia. It is a lot of work to extract the tamarind paste from the pods, which have seeds in them, so it’s best to purchase the tamarind paste in a jar found in Asian markets. You add a few more ingredients to the paste, mix it up and heat it. The mint chutney can be made quickly by putting the ingredients into a food processor.
Try making Pakoras when you have some friends over. Everyone will have fun helping to make them…and eat them. And maybe you will lose your fear of frying as I did. After all, you are probably not afraid to eat french fries when you are out at a restaurant, so try Pakoras – they are much healthier and very satisfying.
- 1 cup Spinach leaves
- 1 cup cauliflower flowerets
- 1 potato, peeled and cut in 1/4″ slices
- 1 zucchini, cut in rounds
- 2 cups chickpea flour
- 1 tsp coriander, ground
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 onion, chopped fine
- 1 green chile, seeded, stemmed and minced
- 2 Tbs cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 cup + water
- canola oil (You will need about 4 cups for frying)
1. Prepare vegetables and set aside. Make sure they are dry before dipping into the batter.
2. Mix together chickpea flour, spices, onion, chili, cilantro and water in a bowl. Add more water until batter has consistency of pancake batter.
3. Heat oil to 350-365°. Do not fry until oil is at 350° or the vegetables will absorb the oil. Be mindful that when you add vegetables, temperature will go down, so do not crowd items in the fryer.
4. Dip vegetables one by one in chickpea batter and then into at least 1″ hot oil. Fry until golden brown. Drain onto paper towels, Serve with Mint and Tamarind Chutneys. Vegetables can be fried ahead of time and warmed in a 350° oven for 5-10 minutes when you are ready to serve them.
Servings: 20 97 calories per serving
- 1 small green chile, seeded, stemmed, minced
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves, stems removed
- 1/2 cup onion chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 2 Tbs lime juice
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp sugar
1. Place minced chile in food processor and process until chopped fine. Add mint leaves, onion and tomato. Process until mixture is minced. Add lime juice, salt to taste and sugar and process again.
2. Thin with water. Consistency should be thinner than ketchup.
Servings: 32 3 calories per serving
- 1 1/4 cups thick tamarind pulp
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt to taste
- 1 tsp + ground cumin
- 1 Tbs ginger root, minced
- 1 tsp chile powder, or to taste
1. In small saucepan, mix all ingredients together and heat 8-10 minutes on med-low heat. Refrigerate until used. Thin with water. Consistency should be thinner than ketchup.
Servings: 32 7 calories per serving