Pakora are a favourite street food in India, and one that can easily be made at home. Recipes use a chickpea flour batter into which vegetables are dipped and then deep fried. I like to serve these Pakora with sea salt and lemon juice only, but they are commonly eaten with Indian sauces and chutneys. One word describes them. Delicious. Incredibly delicious. Have a glass of chai with them – I also love them with a small cup of spicy rasam.
In frying the pakora (also called pakoda, bhajji and bhajiya) the aim is to cook the vegetable in the same amount of time that the batter takes to become crispy. It is about temperature, so it is a good idea to test-fry a few pieces before cooking the whole batch.
The types of vegetables that can be used include potatoes, onion rings, eggplant, sweet potatoes, softer pumpkins, lotus root, cauliflower and greens such as spinach, kale and amaranth leaves. Make sure that any greens are really dry before using.
Eggplant and Kale Pakora
1 cup rice flour
1 cup besan (chickpea flour)
0.5 tspn eno powder or 0.25 tspn baking soda
sea salt to taste
water, bubbly soda water or mineral water
vegetables such as potatoes, onion rings, eggplant, sweet potatoes, softer pumpkins, lotus root, cauliflower and very dry greens such as spinach, kale and amaranth leaves.
vegetable oil for deep frying
Mix the flours, eno and sea salt with enough water or fizzy drink to make a batter the consistency of heavy cream.
Heat the oil in a large pan until it is hot but not smoking. Dip a piece of vegetable into the batter, drain off excess, and test-fry in the hot oil.
Fry the remaining vegetables in the same way, regulating the temperature as necessary. Don’t crowd the pan, fry them in batches, turning the pieces once.
Transfer the pieces to kitchen paper to drain, then sprinkle with sea salt and a squeeze of lemon. Or make an Indian Chutney to accompany the pakoras.