Manhar Puri is a technology enthusiast and budding cook who is always looking to experiment with healthy yet tasty recipes.
What Are Pakoras?
Pakoras are yummy spiced fritters that are popular on the Indian subcontinent in all seasons. You can find them being cooked at street food stalls, restaurants, and in nearly every home. Also known as bhajiya, this snack is particularly popular during the monsoon and winter season, when it is typically served with a hot cup of tea (chai).
Pakoras consist of a vegetable stuffing that is coated with gram flour (besan) and then deep-fried. Sometimes chickpea flour is used instead of gram flour. In terms of the stuffing, there are several variations, and I've given some suggestions for alternate recipes below.
To top it all off, pakoras are gluten-free. So why not enjoy some of these tasty snacks today?
Traditionally, pakoras are deep-fried, which means that they are a tad bit unhealthy. As we are becoming a health-conscious world, I began experimenting with baked pakoras, which are healthier.
This snack is extremely easy to cook. When stuffed in a bun, they make a great breakfast or evening snack with ketchup, chutney, or avocado dip along with your favorite piping hot beverage, like tea or coffee.
Below is a detailed step-by-step recipe that can be followed by anyone. In this recipe, we will use onions in the stuffing, but you can use other vegetables of your choice (refer to alternate recipes section).
In the tips section, you can find several suggestions about how to make your fritters crispier, similar to the deep-fried ones.
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- 1 cup onions, thinly sliced
- 6 tablespoons besan or chickpea flour
- 3 tablespoons rice flour
- 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder or 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoons oil + extra for brushing
- 1/2 cup water
- salt to taste
- Preheat your oven to 220°C (428°F) for 10 minutes. I am using a Morphy Richards OTG 28RSS. While the oven heats, proceed to the next step.
- Slice the onions evenly and thinly (refer to photo below).
- In large a bowl, combine all of the ingredients: onion, gram flour, rice flour, ginger, red chili, turmeric powder, and salt to taste. It is best to use your hands to evenly mix everything (refer to the image below).
- Mix well, adding 1 teaspoon of water at a time to bring everything together. It is very important to add water in small quantities because we want a sticky batter to make crispy pakoras.
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil and mix very well with your hands. The mixture should be a sticky batter (see image below).
- Grease a baking tray with a brush. You can also choose to line the baking tray with a Silpat or parchment paper. For this recipe, I have directly greased the baking tray.
- Take a tablespoonful or a handful of onion batter at a time. Shake excess batter and place it on the baking tray as shown below. I have chosen to shape my pakoras like small patties (see image below). This way I can either put them in a bun or eat them directly.
- Slide the baking tray into the oven. Bake at 220°C (428°F) for 22 minutes until the pakoras turn golden brown. Halfway through, flip each fritter so that both sides are baked evenly.
- Serve the pakoras immediately with ketchup, coriander chutney, or avocado dip. And don't forget that hot cup of tea or coffee!
Tips for Crispy Baked Pakoras
- Onions: The onions must be sliced very thin and evenly. Thin slices will cook faster and help facilitate a crispy texture. You can also use a spiralizer to get even thinner onion slices.
- Water: Use as little water as possible to bind the mixture. The easiest technique that I follow while mixing the batter is to add small quantities of water at a time. This helps me make a perfect sticky batter.
- Rice flour: Rice flour gives a light, crunchy texture to the pakoras crunchy. An additional benefit of adding rice flour to the batter is that the pakoras will not soak up too much oil.
- Extra baking time: If you want your pakoras to be even crispier, then after 22 minutes reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F) and bake for another 10 minutes.
Additional Ingredients and Techniques
- Baking soda: If you prefer a soft rather than crispy texture, add a pinch of baking soda in step 3.
- Herbs and spices: You can add a variety of herbs and spices to the gram flour batter; e.g., crushed coriander seeds, carrom seeds, red chili flakes, mint leaves, coriander leaves (cilantro). These herbs and spices provide an added flavor and aroma.
- Asafoetida: For aroma, asafoetida (hing) can be added to the batter in step 3. Asafoetida is known to have lots of health benefits, like easing stomach problems. To make a gluten-free pakora, skip asafoetida or use wheat-free asafoetida.
- Air-frying: Instead of baking you can also air-fry. Air-fry at 180°C (356°F). Preheat the air fryer for 10 minutes and then air fry till crisp. In between, remove the air-fryer pan and shake or turn over each pakora.
Stuffing Variation Ideas
Instead of using thinly sliced onions, you can also bake pakoras using the following vegetables:
- Methi (fenugreek leaves)
- Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
No matter which vegetable you use, remember to slice it thinly in order to get crispy pakoras. The instructions for baking the pakoras are the same as what I've described above.
Feel free to share your experience of baking pakoras with me. Happy cooking!
Nutrition (serving size: 7 pakoras)
© 2021 Manhar Puri