Pakoras are richly spiced Indian fritters assembled from a wide range of vegetables. Like all finger food they are at their most delicious eaten straight out of the fryer. Thankfully a lot of effort has also gone into constructing heart-healthier versions. These can be cooked like pancakes.
If serving them as snacks, make sure to serve them with Tamarind Chutney or Coriander Chutney. (These are vastly different experiences.) If you’re serving them as part of an Indian spread, make sure to taste them with everything!
- 1/3 cup chickpea flour, also called gram or besan flour
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup white-wheat flour
- 1 cup fine cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 cups grated carrot
- oil or ghee for sauté
- generous 1/2 teaspoon ajawain seeds
- generous 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- generous 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- oil for frying
1Sift together the flours, salt, baking powder, and turmeric.
2Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the grated carrot, return to a boil, and drain immediately. (No need to squeeze excess water from the carrots.) Reserve water to make the batter; any remaining can be used in dal or for other cooking.
3In a skillet over medium-high heat melt the ghee, then add the ajawain and fennel. Cook for about a minute, then add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add red onions and cook for about a minute. Then add the scallions and ginger, chasing them around the skillet for about another minute, then remove skillet from heat.
4If you have a little time you can allow them to cool in the pan; otherwise they’ll cool faster if you scrape them on top of the dry mixture of the batter. Add the carrots and a splash of the carrot water and begin mixing with a large spoon or rubber spatula.
5Adjust the moisture level. The batter should be thicker than pancake batter, but not so thick as cornbread batter.
6How are you going to fry these up? Pakoras are often deep fried, and I’m not going to stop you if you have the tools and the skills. But that’s a serious commitment, from both a culinary, cleanup, and potentially coronary perspective. I like to skillet fry them. Place a generous splash of oil in your skillet. You can get away with just a little bit, but you’ll generate a delicious and crispy crust if you hazard a bit more oil. Heat the oil on medium-high until the oil gets that shimmering look. If it’s not hot enough the batter will quickly muck up the bottom of your pan. At first, pay a little more attention to them than if you were making pancakes; eventually you’ll get the feel of it. If the first fritter is a bit raw in the center, you may need to adjust your skillet temperature and/or dilute your batter with a tablespoon of water.