Mixed Vegetable Pakora or Bhajis - 1, Fritters (Mamta's)
Sabji Pakora (Bhajis) 1
This quick and versatile snack is also known as 'bhaji' or 'bhajia' in UK and in some parts of India. Pakoras have now become part of UK cuisine, just like samosas. They are widely available ready-made in supermarkets, but nothing beats the taste of freshly fried pakoras. Any seasonal vegetable can be used. You can serve them for breakfast, afternoon tea or as a snack with drinks. In India, they are widely sold as a street-food by hawkers on their mobile carts called Thelas and by roadside tea stalls, always freshly fried as you watch. As well as traditional vegetable pakoras, you can use the same batter to make bread and paneer pakoras, using thinly sliced bread and small cubes or fingers of paneer. Serves 4-6
Pictures by Mamta Gupta
250 gm. gram flour/chickpea four/besan (for 4-5 people)
1/2 tsp. carom or ajwain seeds
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. chilli powder (adjust to taste by tasting the batter)
1/4 tsp. baking powder. This makes pakoras crisp
1/4 tsp. Garam Masala (optional)
A few chopped coriander leaves (optional)
Water to make batter
2 cups vegetables such as potatoes, onions, aubergines, courgettes, cauliflower, small spinach leaves, tender grape vine leaves, pumpkin flowers, courgette (tori/turai) flowers, wild garlic leaves, green chillies etc.
Oil for deep frying
Prepare vegetables; slice potatoes, aubergines, courgettes and onions into approximately 2 mm. thick slices. Wash and pat dry spinach and grape leaves. Wash pumpkin and courgette flowers, removing their stalks. Slit green chillies in half or make a slit in the side of whole chillies, to avoid bursting during frying. Cut bread slices into fingers. Break florets of cauliflower into small pieces, lightly steam the cauliflower florets and then gently flatten them a bit.
Mix all batter ingredients well with enough water to give it a coating consistency and beat thoroughly. Use an electric beater if you have it, it helps to trap the air, which in turn makes pakoras light and crisp. Otherwise beat with your hand or a spatula, until light and fluffy. To test the batter, drop a few droplets in a glass or cup of tap water. The droplets should float to the surface immediately.
Heat the oil in a wok or karahi to medium hot. It should not be smoking hot. That is too hot. The right temperature is reached when a drop of batter dropped in the oil sizzles and floats to the surface quickly.
Dip and coat each individual piece of vegetable/paneer/bread in the batter and drop it gently in hot oil, taking care not to splash the oil. Make in batches of one ingredient each or a mixed batch. Slide them into the oil from the side of the wok, do not drop in the centre or the hot oil will splash on your hand.
Fry turning frequently, until pakoras are crisp and golden brown on all side. They should not be dark brown.
Lift out of oil, drain on a kitchen paper and serve immediately with Green Mango Chutney and Tomato Ketchup. You can sprinkle some chat masala just before serving. They are best when eaten straight away.
Pakoras do not taste half as good and absorb a lot more oil, if prepared in advance. However, if you have to, cook them first to very pale brown only, then re-fry just before serving. To heat in oven, preheat oven to 200˚ C/400 F◦ or gas mark 6. Spread pakoras out on a baking tray in a single layer and heat for 10 minutes.
Also see Chat Selection