Pakoras, Bhajiyai (or Bhajis as they’re often mis-pronounced) are a great way of utilising seasonal vegetables. They can be a filling snack or a starter for a meal. It really is a case of making a simple batter, dunking the ingredients of your choice in it, and frying. They’re cheap as chips, and like chips, they’re very good with ketchup!
1 cup of gram flour
1/3 cup of cold water (approximately, but add water cautiously)
½ teaspoon of freshly ground garlic and ginger
Pinch of turmeric
A few sprigs of coriander, lightly chopped
½ green chilli, finely sliced
¼ to ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds
A pinch of aesofatida powder (if you can get it)
About an inch of oil for deep frying
Put some gram flour in a bowl. Add salt, a little crushed garlic and ginger and stir in enough cold water to make a fairly thick batter consistency. The batter shouldn’t be too thick, however; it should fall off the spoon fairly easily. Heat the oil. Add about a dessert spoon of batter for each pakora and deep fry, turning once, until golden all over. Drain with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper.
- Mushrooms – sliced make very delicious, quite dainty pakoras.
- Potatoes – can be used raw, if cut very finely by mandolin or otherwise bigger pieces can be used, if par boiled. Or a bit more fiddly, but very tasty, a spicy mash mixture, with mustard seeds and garlic can be made into small ball shapes and dipped into the batter and fried.
- Boiled eggs – sliced into quarters lengthways make quite a filling version.
- Prawns – are another favourite cooked this way. They’re best if marinated in a little crushed garlic and chilli powder before hand.
- Vegetables of your choice – a surprising number work well, so experiment with your favourites and whatever’s in season. Cauliflower pieces – sliced fairly thinly, asparagus, spinach, baby sweet corn, are all delicious.
- Spicy version – add any or all of the following. A couple of teaspoons of coriander seeds. These give a crunch, with a very pleasant almost lemony aroma. A heaped teaspoon of (dried) pomegranate seeds can be added too. In addition extra fresh coriander, lightly chopped, chopped green chilli and cumin seeds.
- Dahi Barai – pakoras in yoghurt. Pakoras are best eaten hot. If you want to make some to eat the next day, or something cool for a summer’s afternoon, then try this version in yoghurt. You can use quite a sour yoghurt, and add garlic, ginger and a bit of chilli and cumin powder, or you can take greek yoghurt and add sugar to sweeten. Both ways work. Dunk the pakoras in water, otherwise they may soak up all the yoghurt. There should be enough yoghurt to cover the pakoras and provide extra sauce. This is best chilled for at lease a couple of hours.