November 17, 2021
Pakora is the lesser-known cousin of tempura. Just like tempura, it’s a fritter made with vegetables such as onions, peppers, potatoes — but instead of a batter of white flour, the batter is made with chickpea flour.
Pakoras are popular not only in India but in countries influenced by the culture of India, including Nepal, Tibet, Trinidad and Tobago.
At home, I have made pakoras with practically every vegetable, from green tomatoes to kale to cauliflower. Here is a simple recipe to try; enjoy it with your favorite ketchup (my guilty pleasure is Maggi Hot & Sweet) or sauce.
4 medium long purple Chinese eggplants
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
2 cups chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
2 tablespoons grated ginger or ginger puree
About 1 1/2 cups of water
2 cups frying oil (such as rice bran, peanut, or sesame)
Serves 4 to 6
Cut the eggplants into pieces about 1/2-inch thick and 3 to 4 inches long. Toss them with 1 teaspoon salt and set them aside for 1 to 2 hours. Drain the eggplant pieces on a paper towel, then sprinkle them with red chili powder, if using.
To make the batter_ In a medium-size bowl, combine the chickpea flour, turmeric, black pepper, cumin, ginger, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Using a whisk or your hands,mix in 1 cup of water to start. Add 1/4 cup of water at a time until the batter has a consistency to perfectly coat the eggplants. The batter will need around 1 1/2 cups of water. Let the batter rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
The batter should cover the eggplant but not be a heavy coating. Add more water to the batter if needed, or alternately add more chickpea flour to thicken it. Taste the pakora and adjust for consistency, salt, or spices if needed.
Heat the oil in a wok-like container or a flat shallow skillet. The oil should be at 325°F. The best way to test the heat is to plop in tiny drops of the chickpea batter, using a teaspoon. If it floats right up, the oil is ready; if not, give it some more time. Once it is ready, keep the heat at medium. Dip one piece of eggplant in the batter and drop it in the oil. Use a spoon if this is easier.
Fill the oil with as many of the eggplant pieces as will fill the pan in a single layer. Let them fry 3 to 4 minutes, turning over gently with a slotted spoon halfway. Remove the eggplant pakoras and spread them on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant pieces. Serve hot.
For an even crispier pakora, double fry them. The first time, fry them for 1 to 2 minutes, then drain them and let them cool in a single layer. This can be done a few hours before. When ready to serve, fry the pakoras again for 1 to 2 minutes and they will crisp up beautifully.
Find my favorite Maggi ketchup at most Indian grocery stores or online.
December 02, 2022