Pakora

It’s finally starting to cool down in New Zealand after an amazingly hot & dry summer, so I thought it’d be nice to make some pakora for the family – it’s a really good lazy afternoon snack, especially on colder days.  It’s similar to tempura vegetables, but made with Besen (Chickpea flour) which gives it, its distinctive flavour and texture.  Here’s my version of this snack that’s full of umami flavours.

Ingredients:

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Mixed vegetables cut into bite sized pieces – we like to use potatoes (sliced), onions (sliced) and cauliflowers (cut into small florets) – but anything that deep fries well would work.
1 1/2 cups of Besen/Chickpea flour – you can use plain flour, but you do lose the taste and texture the Besen brings – it’s easily found in an Indian grocer’s.
1 tsp cumin seeds (caraway seeds also work well!)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne powder (or more, if you want more kick)
1 tsp coriander powder
Water to combine (I’ve also used beer in the past, to give a really fluffy batter – but it’s not necessary – soda water also gives a similar effect without the beer flavour)

Method:

Combine all ingredients (except the vegetables) into a bowl and mix thoroughly

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Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and slowly add in your water while whisking

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Keep combining the water and ingredients until you get a smooth, but still thick batter

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Test the thickness of your batter by dipping a floret in there – it should stick to the vegetables easily.  The thicker your batter, the more likely you’ll get a soft/bready core and crunchy outer (this is traditionally how you do it, but I like mine a little thinner, which keeps the crispness up, but doesn’t stick to the vegetables as well)

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Deep fry your vegetables in small batches in medium/hot oil.  Too hot and the pakora will burn and stay raw on the inside; too cool and it won’t cook.  Do a test floret first and taste the result to see if you’re happy – you may need to do what I do and do extensive testing this way until you’re satisfied with the heat of the oil.

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Drain your pakora on some paper towels

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Serve – these go great with sweet chutneys or tamarind paste, but even just some ketchup is fine. Enjoy!

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