In India they are called Pakoras, Pakodas, and Bhajias, the western world refer to them as fritters or chilli bites—call them anything you want to – but these crispy deep fried delicious snacks will have you wanting for more and more.
These wonderfully tasty morsels are created by simply taking one or two or a variety of vegetables and dipping them into a batter made using chick pea flour and then deep frying them. The batter is a standard mixture of chick pea flour, very subtle spices and water; however when it comes to the variety of ingredients that you can dip and deep fry you can let your imagination run wild. You can use, onion rings, thinly sliced eggplants or potatoes, shredded spinach or whole baby spinach leaves, sliced green bananas, cauliflower, slices of paneer, whole green chillies, slices of bread or even some mashed potatoes and the list is almost never ending.
(I chose eggplants, onion rings, cauliflower florets and sliced potatoes)
In Britain, the pakoras are a popular fast food snack available in many Indian and Pakistani restaurants as an alternative to French Fries. The Muslim Cape Malays refer to pakoras as dhatjies and it is usually served as an appetiser during the fasting month of Ramadan and on special occasions. In the southern states of India it is known as bhajji rather than the usual pakora and the name of the vegetable that is deep fried suffixed with bhajji. In these southern states pakoda is usually a mixture of finely chopped onions, green chillies and spices mixed with chick pea flour and water to form a very soft dough that can be shaped into little balls and deep fried in hot oil—they are wonderfully crisp on the outside with a delicate soft centre. In Pakistan these pakoras are sometimes served in a yogurt based curry as the main dish with rice or parathas.
For me the famous Mumbai Bread pakoda or aloo bhajji is the cherry on the top of all the pakoras and etc–. Bread pakoda is triangular pieces of bread dipped in the chick pea flour batter, deep fried and then served with the popular date and tamarind chutney, Alloo Bhajji is the ultimate in indulgence—it is a potato pakora placed between 2 slices of bread, dipped in the chick pea flour batter and then deep fried till crispy-crispy on the outside with the amazing soft alloo in the centre—with this you don’t really need any chutneys or sauces—it is amazing all on its very own (street vendors sell these delicacies’ at about 10 rupees per plate and you get 5-6 pieces per plate—with rand rupee exchange rate you looking at about R2-50 a plate-what great value for money) and the best accompaniment to this plate of pakoras is an authentic cup of slow brewed “Masala Chai”–Just perfect for the weather that we are experiancing country wide.
Like all Mumbai street food vendors—“A Pakora Wallah” can be found on popular street corners, close to railway stations, outside colleges and shopping malls and on “Chowpaty Beach.
I am sharing an authentic recipe for Pakora—but unfortunately there is no getting away from deep frying them, and my experiment at making a healthy version failed with my taste team—so only the authentic version for now!!
250ml chick pea flour
50ml rice flour
50ml self raising flour
5ml ginger powder
15ml crushed dhania (coriander) seeds
5ml crushed ajwain (carom seeds) optional
125ml water (approximately)
5ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
500ml vegetables of your choice that have been seasoned
- Sift the flours, ginger powder and salt into a mixing bowl and then stir in the dhania and ajwain seeds (the rice flour makes the pakoras crispy on the outside and the self raising flour keeps them fluffy on the inside)
- Add enough water to make a batter the consistency of a pancake batter
- Heat oil on medium heat ensuring that your pan is almost half full
- Once the oil is hot take about 3 tablespoon of the hot oil and pour over the batter and mix well
- Now add in your choice of prepared and seasoned vegetables and coat well before frying in hot oil
- Fry till crispy and golden brown in colour
- Serve hot with a choice of tamarind, coriander or a tomato sauce chutney
- Whatever vegetables you are using make sure you season them well with salt, turmeric and chilli powder, because if they are not well seasoned when you bite into your pakora—you will get the taste of a wonderful outer batter and a bland inner vegetable
- The above is just guidelines and this recipe can be adjusted to suit individual tastes and preferences.
- I personally do not like to much chilli in my food, but if you like the heat by all means crank it up with the addition of green chillies, or chilli powder
- When frying ensure that the oil is not to hot—as you will get golden brown pakoras, but the insides will still be raw
- Pakoras can be made in advance and then re-heated in a conventional oven – but not a microwave
- Recipes for the chutneys can be found on my post for “Bhel Puri”