To make vegetable fritters irresistible… make pakora!! These are Indian vegetable patties, seasoned and fried until golden and crispy. It can be made with virtually any vegetable, so use this pakora recipe as a stepping stone to your own variation. You can It’s gluten-free and vegan, so anyone can enjoy it!
Pakora: Indian Vegetable Fritters
This is street food, the Indian way! Sold as snacks on the streets of India and as popular appetisers in Indian restaurants elsewhere, pakora are crispy, bite-size vegetable fritters. They’re loaded with gorgeous Indian spices before being fried until crunchy.
These little nuggets are dangerously easy to eat, the sort of food you just keep popping into your mouth, one after the other, until you suddenly realise the plate is half empty and you look around to find someone to accuse – Who ate all the pakoras??!!!
Ssshhh!!! I will never tell – if you don’t!
What goes in Pakora
Pakora can be made with almost any vegetable suitable for frying in a pancake mold. I chose onions, potatoes and cauliflower, but below is a wide range of other vegetables you can use and how to chop them. It’s a list.
Chickpea flour – also known as chickpea flour and besan, made from dried chickpeas, is a staple in Indian and subcontinental cuisine. It is now available in major Australian grocery stores. It has a nutty taste, is thicker than regular flour, and has better nutritional properties (lower carbohydrates and higher protein).
- Fenugreek Powder – A common Indian/subcontinental spice that smells strangely like maple syrup. However, it has no taste by itself, and has a strange tangy taste. It is available at stores that carry a wide variety of spices. Found at Harris Farms (Australia). Of course, at the Indian general store!
- Best Sub: Garam Masala or Common Curry Powder. (They are not exactly the same, but the added flavors make up for it);
- Substitute: Cayenne Pepper. If you don’t like the spiciness, reduce the amount of chili powder. Start modestly and cook a test pakora. Taste and add more chilli to the batter if you want more.
- Turmeric Powder – Gives the pakora a nice warm golden color.
- Cumin, Coriander, Ginger – The main spices/flavors of Indian cuisine.
- Fresh Chili – Fruity flavor with a hint of warmth. I am using large cayenne peppers here. Although this is not spicy, it adds a warm buzz to the pakoras.In general, the bigger the pepper, the less spiciness. Omit or reduce as needed.
- Potato – all-rounder or starchy potato
OTHER VEGETABLES TO USE FOR PAKORAS
The beauty of Pakora is its versatility. I used cauliflower, potatoes, and onions this time, but you can use other vegetables as long as they are finely chopped or grated. Use 6 cups total:
- Carrots – finely julienned or shredded
- Broccoli, broccolini – finely chopped to rice size
- Green beans, asparagus – finely seasoned or julienned
- Zucchini – grated and squeezed out excess water
- Spinach, kale
- Bell peppers/paprika – cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) strips
- Parsnips, celeriac and other root vegetables – like grated potatoes
- Peas and Corn Kernels – No Change Not Recommended (or requires additional preparation steps): Eggplant, Pumpkin, Celery, Fennel, Cucumber, Tomato
How to make Pakoras
PART 1: PREPARING THE VEGETABLES
- Vegetables for pakoras are typically either finely chopped, grated or julienned so they are suitable to form into little patties and cook quickly. I always ensure that there’s at least one vegetable grated or julienned so you get scraggly bits that stick out and become extra crispy! Here’s how I prepared the fresh vegetables in these pakoras: Ginger: Finely minced using a microplane (best for maximum flavour extraction!)
Cauliflower: Finely chopped into rice size pieces, as though preparing to make Cauliflower Rice (which, actually, is a good tip if you want to just buy ready-made – simply use raw cauliflower rice). You can also grate it using a standard box grater. Use a large bowl so the cauliflower bits don’t go everywhere. Otherwise use a food processor!
Potato: Grated using a box grater; and
Onion: Grated using a box grater. Yes, the onion juice squirting out will be torture and will make you cry (unless, like me, you’re protected with contact lenses). But it’s worth it, I promise!
PART 2: PAKORA BATTER AND FRYING
The pakoras are deep-fried, which gives them that distinctive crumbly sticking-out crispiness. However, if you don’t want to fry them, you can also make them like fried fritters (zucchini fritters, corn fritters, etc.) Of course not exactly the same, but still delicious!
- Batter: Make the batter by mixing together the chickpea flour and dried spices with water. At this stage, the batter will seem very thick and paste-like but don’t worry. It actually thins out once the vegetables are added because the salt in the batter draws out water from the vegetables which thins the batter slightly;
- Add vegetables: Stir through the fresh vegetables;
- Finished batter: The batter should be quite thick, thick enough to drop balls of it into oil. If It seems too thin, add more chickpea flour;
- Form rough patties: Drop 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of batter roughly formed into a patty shape (~ 1.5cm / 0.6″ thick) into the oil. I use my hands (as is typical in India!) but you can also use 2 dessertspoons. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but I feel it’s safer to use my hands because I have more control and there is less risk of the batter accidentally dropping into the oil from a height, causing splashage. Remember, don’t crowd the pot! It will lower the oil temperature too much. I generally cook 4 at a time at the beginning to get into the groove of the timing, then up to 6 at a time;
- Fry 2 – 3 minutes until golden: Fry the pakoras for 2 to 3 minutes until they are a deep golden and crispy on the outside. They will easily cook through inside in this time;
- Drain pakora on paper towels and continue cooking the remainder. Keep cooked pakoras warm in a low oven (80°C / 175°F) on a rack set over a tray.
Sauces for Pakora
Pakora are usually served with a fresh, cool sauce, offering a delicious contrast to hot, spiced and fried pakoras.
- We have two options for you today. or
- Mint Yogurt Sauce: Cool and tangy.
Either is fine. Both go great with pakora. I really come down to personal preference.
When and what to serve with Pakoras
In India, pakora is a common street snack sold by street vendors. With that in mind, pakoras are a great option to pass as canapes. They’re the perfect finger food size and something a little different! .