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Recipes

The Perfect Pakora

Recipe by: Asha Loupy

Serves: 4 to 6

The Perfect Pakora
Photo by:  

Melati Citrawireja

Pakora —also known as pakoda, pikora, bhajiya, among other names — are one of our favorite food groups. These golden, lacy, crispity-crunchity fritters are bound by a highly spiced chickpea flour batter and can be made with an assortment of vegetables, meat, or seafood. This recipe highlights the former — think of it as a roadmap for pakora using the vegetable of your choice.

The trick to getting the most shatteringly crisp pakora is two-fold. The first step is controlling the water in the batter. Since vegetables hold a decent amount of water, toss the veggies, onions, and herbs with all the dry ingredients, omitting the water, and let that sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Then, massage the mixture, coaxing out any residual water, before adding a little bit of water at a time until you reach the right batter consistency. Secondly, instead of just besan, or chickpea flour, a bit of rice flour helps the pakora retain their crunch, post-frying.

Need some veggie inspo? We're partial to karela (bitter melon), sweet potatoes, spinach, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, or a mix of alliums, like leeks, onions, and green garlic. But, the world is your own choose-your-own-pakora adventure. (These are a great way to use up odds and ends from your CSA box.)

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Ingredients

  • 12 ounces vegetables of your choice, thinly sliced or cut into matchsticks
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 4 to 6 ounces total)
  • ¾ cup chickpea flour
  • ¼ cup rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon Pragati Turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon powdered Guntur Sannam Chillies
  • Whole spice combo of your choice (see below)
  • 1¼ teaspoons Surya Salt or 1¾ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 Indian long or serrano peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems
Whole spice combo #1
Whole spice combo #2
Whole spice combo #3
  • ½ teaspoon Jodhana Cumin
  • ½ teaspoon crushed Nandini Coriander
  • ½ teaspoon Hariyali Fennel
  • Pinch Wild Ajwain

Methods

  1. Quick note: If you’re using karela (bitter melon), thinly slice it, toss with ½ teaspoon Surya salt, let sit for 30 minutes, and then pat dry before using. (This will reduce some of the bitterness.)
  2. Place the vegetables, onion, chickpea flour, rice flour, turmeric, Guntur Sannam chillies, whole spices, salt, serrano pepper, and cilantro in a large bowl, and toss to coat the vegetables in the flours and spices. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, up to 1 hour.
  3. Gently massage the vegetable mixture. Then, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, mixing periodically, until a thick batter forms (you’re looking for something a little thicker than pancake batter). 
  4. Heat 1½” canola oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat to 350°F. Gently drop small, couple tablespoon portions of the battered vegetables into the hot oil and fry, flipping halfway through, until the vegetables are cooked through and the outside is deep golden and crisp, 4 to 8 minutes depending on the vegetables you’re using.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried pakora to a baking rack-lined tray to drain, sprinkling with a little extra salt or chaat masala, if desired. Repeat with the remaining pakora mixture. Serve hot with the chutney of your choice.
     

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