Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Pakoras! So exotic, so delicious, so easy.

If you haven't had them before, pakoras are crispy little fritters from India filled with joyful, crispy vegetables ranging from onions to green beans to cauliflower to spicy peppers. Normally they arrive on a silver plate at the Indian restaurant and a chorus of "ahhh" rises from the table. In Mumbai, they're street food - hot, tasty, and a wonderful snack along the way.
But at home, I'll let you in on a couple secrets: They are a perfect vehicle to use up extra vegetables, super fast to make ~ and best of all, they're a way to have fun doing something a touch crazy!

Pakoras are made from garbanzo bean flour. It's not hard to find it, and if you're gluten free you probably already have it handy. If not, you can get it at an Asian grocery or your health food store. But make sure the source is allergen free. As I learned when making Socca, not all garbanzo bean flour is safe. Yummy? yes... but not necessarily safe.

A couple things to note about garbanzo flour:
  • First - until it's cooked, it tastes a little, well, weird. Tinny or slightly sour perhaps? Completely normal. (When you make cookies, for example, it's not quite as fun eating the dough... but it still doesn't stop me.)
  • Second - If you are using it in a batter, let it soak in the liquid for maybe a half hour before you cook it. Otherwise it'll stay lumpy. Time is your friend here. So measure your flour, add the water, stir it up. Then, go chop veggies or play with your kids for a few minutes. Again, time being friendly!

The recipe is easy: mix flour, spices and water, chop veggies, stir in veggies, fry. yup, that's it.
A more accurate recipe, though:

Oversized monster pakora frying.
Hence suggestion for a smaller
2 - 3 " size -- but still yummy!

1 cup Garbanzo Bean flour
(I used Bob's Red Mill gluten free)
1 cup water (or enough to make a batter slightly thinner than pancake batter)
1 tsp (or to taste) curry powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
Oil for frying
about 2 cups of diced vegetables (around 1/4 to 1/2" chunks) -- some suggestions:
- onion (really a must) - green or red peppers
- green beans - cauliflower
- peas - corn kernels
Mix the flour with the water, whisk, and set aside for around a half hour. Using a frying pan (or to save oil, a saucepan), heat around 1/2 inch of oil until a drop of batter into the oil starts to bubble right away.
When ready to get frying, stir in the spices and vegetables. Dollop the batter carefully into the hot oil, making fritters 2 or 3 inches in diameter. Once you have a batch in, it helps to carefully tip the pan and allow the oil to roll over the top. Fry for a couple minutes on each side, and let rest on paper towels to drain the excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt if you like!
While I was making these today, I began to wonder about alternate takes to this simple dish. Since it's apple season, why not try cinnamon in place of curry, and apples instead of veggies? Hmmm... you might see that up here very soon!
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