(Indian, Pakistani vegetable fritters)
Pakoras, savory fritters, are a very popular chaat—snack or appetizer—in Pakistan and northern India. The chickpea batter gives them a unique flavor, and their crispy crust encases all kinds of vegetables and sometimes chunks of meat. Pakoras are often bought from street vendors who serve them wrapped in a newpaper cone.
4 to 5 servings
- Chickpea flour (besan) -- 1 cup
- Hot chile peppers, minced (optional) -- 1 or 2
- Ground cumin -- 1 teaspoon
- Salt -- 1 1/2 teaspoons
- Warm water -- 1/2 cup
- Oil -- 2 tablespoons
- Prepared vegetables (see variations) -- 2 to 3 cups
- Oil for deep frying
- In a large bowl, add the chickpea flour, optional chile peppers, cumin, salt, water and 2 tablespoons of oil. Whisk the ingredients vigorously to incorporate air and make a fluffy, smooth batter. Alternatively, put all the batter ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside and let the batter rest for about 20-30 minutes.
- Heat about 1-2 inches of oil in a heavy skillet or deep pot over medium-high flame to 365-375°F. Using a fork, dip the prepared vegetables into the batter to coat. Then drop into the hot oil and deep fry until lightly browned on all sides. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and hold warm while you repeat with the remaining vegetables.
- Serve hot with mint chutney or cilantro chutney.
- Vegetables for Pakora: Eggplant sliced into thin rounds; par-cooked potatoes, sliced into thin rounds; cauliflower or broccoli broken into florets and blanched; peppers sliced into rings; okra sliced into rounds; chopped tomatoes. Use your imagination.
- Bhajji, or Piaz Pakora: Use onions sliced into rings.
- Murgh Pakora: Cut boneless, skinless chicken breast into cubes and marinate in tandoori marinade for about 30 minutes. Drain excess marinade, dip the chicken in the batter and fry.
- Palak Pakora: Mix 2 or 3 cups of chopped spinach or cabbage with the pakora batter. Drop spoonfuls into the hot oil and fry until golden.
- Paneer Pakora: Use cubed paneer cheese.
- Add a pinch of garam masala, turmeric or asafoetida powder (hing) to the batter if you like.