How to Make Vegetable Pakora
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.
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.
- 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.
Vegetable Pakora Preparation and Cooking InstructionsClick thumbnail to view full-size
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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!