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Asma Khan’s Pyaz ke Pakora: Onion Fritters

A nostalgic favourite of Asma’s, this pakora recipe combines the zesty flavours of lemon and chilli with turmeric to create a moreish batter. Best served hot with a chutney of your choice, Asma's onion fritters make a simple meat-free snack or starter for all to enjoy.

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Asma Khan

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Introduction

My love affair with <i>pyaz ke pakora</i> goes back to the exhilaration of the first rains of the monsoons. After weeks of sweltering humidity, the relief of the cooling rain was something I still remember, even after so many decades away from India. The first rains were always a deluge. As children, we sat by the windows watching the relentless downpour, eating <i>pyaz ke pakora</i> and sipping chai. I never thought the pakoras looked like spiders until my older son visited India in monsoon season. He had just learned to speak and he looked at the pakoras and shouted ‘piders’! My father has called these pakoras Piders from that day on. Serve as a snack or a starter. This goes really well with a green chutney, such as my Coriander and Mint Chutney.

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Ingredients

500g onions, thinly sliced
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
For the batter:
130g gram flour (besan), sifted
1⁄3 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp salt
6-8 tbsp cold water

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Method

Soak the onions in cold water.

To make the batter, mix the gram flour with the baking powder and then add the ghee and mix with your hands to form crumbs. Add the lemon juice, spices and salt and gradually stir in the water to make a batter that will coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add just enough water to get the consistency of double cream.

Squeeze the onions to remove any excess moisture. Gradually add the onions to the batter to ensure the batter clings to the onions. (If you add them all at once it may make the batter too wet.)

Heat 8cm of oil in a karai or wok over a medium–high heat. Drop a tablespoon of the onion batter into the oil: the batter should spread and not become a ball. If the batter does not flatten and spread, it is too thick, so add a touch more water to it. Let the pakora cook for 1–2 minutes until crisp and golden brown, then turn and cook the other side. If your pakora browns too quickly, there is a risk it may remain raw inside. Maintain the heat of the oil at a level where the fritters take 1–2 minutes on each side and cook in batches of two or three at a time. Drain on kitchen paper as you take each batch out of the oil. Serve hot.

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Inspired by the home cooking of Asma’s Ammu (mother), this collection of 100 recipes, from award-winning chef and food writer Asma Khan, celebrates the inextricable link between food, family, and love.

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From the book: Ammu: Indian Home-Cooking To Nourish Your Soul

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