When buying kitchen gadgets we generally adopt the approach of buying a cheap, entry level model first up to see if we actually use the toy, with the intention that if we hammer it and it breaks, we buy a better one and if we never use it we’ve not parted with two much cash. Invariably what happens is that the cheap model lasts and lasts and lasts. That’s what happened with our espresso machine and also our deep fat fryer.
We’d been talking about buying a fryer for ages before we actually bought one. We use it more than we thought, but not as much as we feared: we’ve not turned into little deep fried dumplings ourselves!
One of the things we’d like to perfect is the pakora. I’m a huge fan of chickpeas in all their forms – but turned into batter and deep fried? What could be better?
You barely need a recipe for pakora batter – it’s just chickpea (also known as besan) flour with spices and some water. As chickpea flour is gluten free, this recipe is suitable for coeliacs (and anyone avoiding gluten for whatever reason).
But here we go. I based my approach around the recipe on India Snacks (probably a site I should visit more).
Take 150g of chickpea flour and add: the juice of one lemon, ⅓ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp ground chillis (or chilli powder – and obviously this is ‘to taste’ – you could leave it out altogether), ½ tsp turmeric, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 tsp ground coriander and a generous ½ tsp of salt. Mix all these dry ingredients together well before adding a generous tablespoon of melted ghee and finishing the batter with enough cold water to make … a batter.
Set it aside to rest for as long as you are able (batters are always better if you can leave them overnight).
You want the batter to be reasonably thick because it needs to support all those vegetables you’re going to put in it. We added plenty of spinach, some finely sliced onion and some grated potato (if you’re using potato, don’t grate it too finally and make sure you get the excess water out before adding it to your batter). Because I’m lazy it all went in the same bowl, but there’s no reason it has to. You could use cauliflower or broccoli florets, slices of aubergine, mushrooms, even chicken goujons. Really – anything that will taste good battered and fried!
Heat your oil to 180°C and fry spoonfuls of your mix until golden and cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper and serve. In my case – serve with plenty of hot lime pickle, but raita and mint chutney are also popular. This mix made more than enough for two greedy piggies for dinner.
This is really easy but I don’t recommend doing this on a school night – with fried foods like this you simply can’t be in a hurry to get them on the table. Because you’re cooking in batches (and quite likely quite small batches) you could well feel like you’ve been in the kitchen for hours. Best off saving this for a lazy weekend lunch or dinner when you don’t feel on a schedule.
And while they might be deep fried – pakoras do contain plenty of vegetables, so they’re healthy too!