Seasonal Veg Pakora
On almost every city street in India, you’ll find a food vendor tending to giant karahi of floating pakoras in bubbling oil. The battered veg varies depending on what’s in season but soft, faster-cooking vegetables are preferable, such as onion, aubergine and spinach. I’ve listed seasonal veg and combinations that work well below. The harder the vegetable, the smaller you have to cut it. For root vegetables, grating works best.
Traditionally, just gram flour is used but I find adding rice flour and baking powder makes for a crisper batter at home.
|seasonal vegetables (see below for suggestions)|
|For the batter:|
|veg oil, around 1 litre for frying|
|½ tsp||fine sea salt|
|2 tsp||ajwain seeds (also called lovage or carom seeds; swap for fennel or nigella (black onion) seeds if you can’t find them)|
|1 tsp||cumin seeds|
|½ tsp||ground turmeric|
|A thumb-sized piece of||ginger, grated|
|1||green chilli, thinly sliced|
|A small bunch of||coriander (stalks included), finely chopped|
|2 tsp||garam masala|
You will need: a large saucepan or wok, 5–7cm deep.
Pour the oil into a large saucepan or wok – it needs to be 5–7cm deep – and place on a high heat.
Put the gram and rice flours into a bowl, along with the rest of the batter ingredients. Slowly pour in 500ml water and whisk until a batter is formed – you’re looking for the consistency of a thin pancake batter.
Test the oil to make sure it is the right temperature by dropping a piece of batter into it. It should fizzle and turn golden in around 30 seconds. If you have a thermometer to hand, the oil should be 180°C.
Drop a small handful of your chosen veg (see below) into the batter and make sure it’s evenly coated. Allow any excess batter to drip off, then gently drop the veg into the oil. Fry until golden on one side and then turn over, using a slotted spoon (they will take around 1 minute 20 seconds on each side).
When the pakora is golden on both sides, lift it out of the oil and drain it on a piece of kitchen paper. Season with a generous pinch of salt on both sides. Repeat until all your veg is cooked. You can cook two or three pieces at the same time, depending on the size of your pan and the veg.
These pakoras are amazing with Date and Tamarind Chutney (page 215 of SpiceBox) or Green Chutney (page 221 of SpiceBox).
Cabbage, finely shredded
Brussels sprouts, finely shredded
Beetroot, grated raw, or cooked and sliced
Carrot, grated raw
Celeriac, grated raw
Butternut squash, roasted and sliced
Potatoes, boiled and sliced
Sweet potato, roasted and sliced
Cauliflower, cut into thin steaks
Kale, finely shredded
Leeks, thinly sliced
Onion, thinly sliced
Parsnips, grated raw, or roasted and sliced
Autumn/winter veg combos:
Grated apple and beetroot
Grated pear and celeriac
Sweet potato and sliced spring onion
Kale and potato
Brussels sprout and beetroot
Cauliflower and leek
Broccoli, thinly sliced
Spinach, roughly shredded or whole leaves
Watercress, roughly shredded or whole leaves
Aubergine, thinly sliced
Peppers, thinly sliced
Fennel, thinly sliced
New potatoes, boiled and sliced
Spring/summer veg combos:
Fennel and spinach
Sorrel and onion
Broccoli and watercress
Chard and red pepper
New potato and watercress
New potato and sorrel