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How to Make Vegetable Pakora

Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.

Simple vegetable pakora made with ordinary flour rather than gram flour

Simple vegetable pakora made with ordinary flour rather than gram flour

Pakora is a dish from the Indian sub-continent, which—like so many ethnic dishes from around the world—has been adapted to Western tastes to an extent where it is very often unrecognisable from its original form. It can loosely be described as one or more types of vegetable, deep fried in spicy batter, though chicken and even fish are also fairly common in its preparation. The biggest problem or difficulty experienced when attempting to make pakora is likely to relate to the type of flour used in the batter. Authentic pakora is made from gram flour (also known as chickpea flour, besan or garbanzo flour), which is not always easy to get a hold of in the West. While gram flour should be used wherever possible, this recipe shows how to make pakora using a mix of plain/all-purpose flour and cornflour/corn starch with more than acceptable results.

Portion of vegetable pakora from an Indian takeaway restaurant in Lanarkshire, near Glasgow

Portion of vegetable pakora from an Indian takeaway restaurant in Lanarkshire, near Glasgow

Regional Differences

The disparity in pakora recipes is evident not only in different countries but very much in different parts of a country. I've eaten pakora in restaurants around the UK and have found as a rule of thumb that the further south you are, the pakora (just like the weather!) is likely to be milder. Pakora in Glasgow and its surrounding counties will usually be very spicy and tongue-tinglingly hot, whereas vegetable pakora from a restaurant in London and the south-east is likely to be unrecognisably mild by comparison.

The recipe below will make a fairly mild pakora. If you wish to spice it up a bit, you can (carefully) do so simply by increasing the spice quantities.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

10 min

25 min

14 to 16 pieces of pakora

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons plain/all-purpose flour*
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour/corn starch*
  • 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice from half a lemon
  • cold water
  • 12 ounces potato, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 ounces white onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 small spring onion/scallion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander/cilantro
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • wedge of lemon, for garnish (optional)
  • onion slices, for garnish (optional)

* An equivalent quantity of gram flour should replace the plain/all-purpose flour and cornflour/corn starch wherever possible.

Instructions

  1. The liquid batter should be prepared first and given some time to rest while you prepare the vegetables. Begin by putting the flour, spices and salt in to a bowl and stirring to fully combine.
  2. Pour the lemon juice in to the flour mix. Very slowly, begin adding cold water as you whisk with a fork. You want to prepare a batter wihich has the consistency of thick cream or paint. Cover and leave to rest.
  3. Peel and chop/dice all the vegetables. Mix them together in a large bowl before pouring in the rested batter. Mix well to combine. Note: The batter should now be used immediately. If you leave this batter even for a few minutes, the salt and spices will start to draw the moisture from particularly the potatoes, rendering the mix unusable.
  4. It is best to fry the pakora in a deep fry pan, in very hot oil of about an inch and a half in depth.
  5. Use two dessert spoons to shape a piece of batter before carefully depositing in the oil. You should fry the pakora in two or even three batches to avoid overloading your pan.
  6. After three minutes, use a metal slotted spoon to carefully turn each piece of pakora. A further two to three minutes should see them crisp and brown.
  7. Drain the pakora on kitchen paper on a plate before plating for service with a portion of homemade pakora sauce (see below) and the lemon wedge and onions if required.

Homemade Pakora Sauce

Pakora sauce is yoghurt and spice based and its strength is easily varied

Pakora sauce is yoghurt and spice based and its strength is easily varied

An Indian Beer Goes Very Well With Vegetable Pakora

Indian beers of different types are fairly readily available in the West. You may wish to try serving one with your vegetable pakora—the two go very well together!

Indian beer definitely adds a little something extra to the vegetable pakora eating experience.

Indian beer definitely adds a little something extra to the vegetable pakora eating experience.

Comments

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on July 04, 2013:

Definitely can be a drawback with fried food - but I operate on the principle that once in a while is OK. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on July 03, 2013:

Sounds good to me. I avoid fried food because it's addictively delicious and these certainly sound like they are too.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on August 02, 2012:

Hi, Noreen. I like the sound of this idea, though I've never tried it. Yes, we do eat pulses so this is definitely something I'll have to look at. Thanks for visiting and for the info.

noreen on July 31, 2012:

hey..the batter can also be made using ground pulses (chana daal, moong daal) if you've heard about them in the UK. you guys do eat pulses/lentils right?

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on July 11, 2012:

Hi, Nell. They're a much disputed and misunderstood food, that's for sure but so delicious. Thanks for stopping by.

Nell Rose from England on July 11, 2012:

Hi, This is really familiar to me as I love Indian food, you can usually buy them in a packet with onion bargies, which is my favourite too. These are so lovely to eat, I could just sit there and eat them without any sauce or main meal, so this is really interesting to see how to make them, I did wonder how you got the shape right! lol! then I realised that you used the spoons etc, fantastic, now I really need a curry too! voted up! cheers nell