I just don’t get enough Indian food here at home unless I make my own! That said, I think mine tastes great, but I have absolutely no basis for comparison, so I always joke with a colleague that if his wife doesn’t teach me how to make a proper fish curry, I will make his life miserable. While I await that invitation, I think I’ll try my hand at this week’s recipe for Pakoras (Indian Vegetable Fritters) with Fresh Green Chutney. It comes to us from Ontario-based freelance food writer Tara O’Brady. You may be familiar with her blog, Seven Spoons. I was really happy when she suggested an Indian recipe because I would like to offer you more cuisine variety. Let us know what cuisines you’d be interested in us covering, and we’ll see what we can dish up! — Kristina
About Tara: Tara O’Brady is a freelance food writer with an ongoing column in UPPERCASE Magazine and frequent contributions to Kinfolk. She is also the voice behind the award-winning food blog Seven Spoons. She spends most of her days cooking, reading Dr. Seuss, baking, playing with trains, taking photographs and exploring the possibilities of finger paints. Tara lives with her husband and their two young lads in a brick and wood house on the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. You can also find Tara on Flickr and Twitter.
The full recipe continues after the jump . . .
Pakoras (Indian Vegetable Fritters)
- Approximately 2 1/2 pounds mixed vegetables, cleaned and trimmed. Good candidates are onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes or yams, small eggplants, Jerusalem artichokes, small beets, carrots, cauliflower, green beans and sturdy greens like mustards and kale.
- 1 cup gram (chickpea) flour, called besan in Indian shops
- 1–2 small fresh red chilies, seeded and minced OR 1 dried red chili, crushed
- 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- oil for deep frying (peanut, vegetable or canola)
- lime wedges
- 1 recipe Fresh Green Chutney (see below)
- tomato ketchup
- chili sauce
1. Prepare the vegetables. For the onions, peel and slice them into thin rings horizontally. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, eggplants and Jerusalem artichokes should be kept unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch slices. Cut beets into 1/8 inch slices, or into halves or quarters lengthways, in which case, parboil the pieces and then drain and dry well. Carrots can be left whole if skinny or cut on the diagonal into slices if not. Break the cauliflower into florets and blanch. Green beans can be left whole. Break sturdy greens into individual leaves. Set all the vegetables aside while you make the batter.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, chili, cilantro and salt. Slowly stir in enough water to bring the mixture to the consistency of whipping (heavy) cream. Beat the batter well, until it is lightened and foamy at the edges. Set aside.
3. In a heavy-bottomed pot on the stove or in a deep fryer, pour in enough oil to come to about 5” up the side (or follow the manufacturer’s instructions with a fryer). Heat oil to 350°F (175°C). If using onions, separate the slices into individual rings and drop them into the prepared batter, stirring gently to coat. Using a fork, pick up a clump of onion rings and allow the excess batter to drip back into the bowl.
4. Carefully lower the clump of onions into the oil and fry until lightly golden on one side, around 30–40 seconds. Flip the fritter and cook until crisp on the other side. Remove from the oil and drain on a cooling rack set up over newspaper or on some folded paper towels. Season with salt.
5. Repeat, frying a few at a time, until all the onions are used. For the remaining vegetables, dip each piece in the batter, then lift out the vegetable, shaking off excess. Carefully place four or five pieces of vegetables in the oil at a time, or however many your pan can accommodate without crowding. Turn the fritters now and again to ensure even cooking, removing them from the oil when they’re golden brown all over and the vegetables cooked. Timing will depend on the vegetables used, with harder vegetables taking as much as a few minutes, so keep an eye on them and judge accordingly. Season the fritters with salt while hot.
6. Enjoy immediately (which gets my vote!), or keep pakoras warm in a low oven until everything is ready. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice, with additional wedges available. Offer both the green chutney and a condiment of ketchup blended with chili sauce for dipping.
Fresh Green Chutney
- 1 Granny Smith apple
- 2 teaspoons water
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 green chilies
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, loosely packed
- 2 limes
1. Leaving the peel on, core the apple and chop the flesh into small chunks. Add to a blender with the water and process until the apple is liquefied. This may take a few minutes of running the machine, stopping and scraping down the sides of the carafe, then running it again.
2. Stop the machine. Scrape down the sides of the blender and add the ginger and garlic. Purée until smooth. Chop the green chilies into rough chunks and add — with seeds if you like heat — to the blender along with the sugar and salt, then process again. Add the cilantro and the juice from one lime, and purée. Scrape down the sides of the carafe, process again and taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice or salt as needed.
3. Makes approximately 1 cup. Use immediately or chill overnight in the fridge, keeping in mind that as the chutney sits, its flavor will mellow and it will lose some of its colour.
Note: For a milder, creamy sauce, stir in a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt.
Why Tara Chose This Recipe
When my brother and I were growing up, my maternal grandmother stayed with us quite often. She and my Mum were known on our street as great snack-makers, and all the kids liked coming to our house after school for things like homemade potato chips, the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and pakoras.
The fritters we’re talking about today aren’t exactly Grandma’s, and aren’t exactly traditional, but the batter is hers, and I think they do her proud. This is my version of a family tradition, but pakoras in any form are infinitely adaptable and more than a little addicting. My boys like them in the afternoon dunked in ketchup that’s been perked up by a drop of chili sauce. Us grown ups go straight for the chutney adapted from Mum, and they’re pretty darn fine with a cold beer out on the porch before dinner, or really, as dinner itself.