Saturday, January 14, 2006

Mixed Veggie Pakoras

Mmmm... Indian food! Most Americans have made some Italian food, Mexican dishes, and possibly even tackled a French or Chinese dish or too - even if they were highly Americanized. But I don't know too many people that have tried Indian food, let alone tried to make it themselves.
I tried Indian food for the first time two years ago when I was presenting at a conference in Indianapolis.

Hmmm... Indianapolis? I never made the connection before.

But I actually had it in Bloomington. It does live up to its name. Nearly everyone has a garden and they are all such lovely gardens! I would highly recommend a visit. And the city had some fabulous places to eat, too! I had curry chicken and my husband had tandori chicken. YUMMY!

So when I was in Scotland last year, I was already hip to Indian food. AND, would you believe that Indian food is VERY popular in Scotland? Who knew?

I ate on the run, mostly while I was there. I bought a lot of foods at the grocery deli counters, and they always had a huge assortment of tasty Indian food. Since I could buy by the piece, I took the opportunity to try out some new stuff. One of these was pakora.

ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!! I ate them all the time!

So, when I got my new favorite cookbook, probably my favorite recipe book of all-time, I marked the pakoras on my list of recipes to try.

I made them last week, and as usual, I didn't have all the right ingredients, so I improvised. Maybe that is a talent.

Here's the recipe as is in the book:
  • 6 TBS gram(besan) flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp white cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp pomegranate seeds
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1 TBS finely chopped cilantro
  • your choice of vegetables
  • vegetable oil for frying
Well, I thought I had besan (gram flour), which is a flour made from chickpeas/garbanzo beans; but alas, I did not. SO, I took some dried chickpeas and ground them into a powder with my blender. Only realizing afterwards that taking canned chickpeas and grinding them up would have been much easier! Oh well, NEXT TIME!

First you add everything but the cilantro and vegetables. Using a grinding mixer (I used a hand mixer), blend until smooth. Instead of white cumin seeds, I used cheap-brand cumin and PLENTY of it! 1-1/2 tsp my ass! I used cayenne pepper for the chili. You can use any kind of chili pepper you want. Some pepper may be too distinct for this dish, but off hand none come to mind - so just use what you want. I also threw in extra gram and some regular flour because the batter was so soupy. I figured that the batter should have the consistency of onion ring batter.

I also threw in extra pomegranate seeds. This is my first run in with a pomegranate. Interesting fruit. I will have to find more uses for it. But it is SO expensive! I figured since I had gone through so much trouble getting the sucker open and really didn't know what else I would use it for, I should throw extra seeds into this recipe. I think I used about 3-4 TBS.

Once the batter is the way that you would like it, mix in the chopped cilantro. Once again, I threw in extra because I LOVE cilantro!!

Start heating a few inches of oil in a heavy pan. The pakoras should be able to float. Or if you have a deep fryer you can use that too. I used peanut oil.

Once the oil is hot enough to fry, mix the vegetables of your choice into the batter. I would suggest using fresh vegetables. I used frozen mixed veggies with the beans, peas, corn, lima beans, and carrots - but we all agreed that even though the pakoras were very good, they would have been great if I had used fresh veggies.

Cauliflower is a good one to use for this. I also chopped up potatoes and added this to the frozen mix veggies. That was really good. Just use what you like. I do have to say that this batter makes lima beans delicious (well, probably as delicious as lima beans can get anyway).

Using a slotted spoon, spoon the veggies out of the batter and into the hot oil. Becareful the oil isn't too hot or the batter will burn and the veggies won't cook. Turn the pakoras once they appear to have browned nicely on the underside. Fry the other side until it is also deep brown.

Using another slotted spoon, take the pakoras out of the oil and place onto a plate lined with a paper towel to drain the excess oils.

The finished pakora pictures didn't turn out that great, but the pakoras sure were tasty!

Serve these hot on their own or you could make a yogurt sauce for them. They are also very good reheated later.


Blogger OldRoses said...

Lima beans! YUCK!! I agree, fresh veggies sound much better. My first foray into making Indian food was long before I had eaten much of it. I made Tandoor chicken and curry rice. I remember being appalled at the smell of the marinade for the chicken. It smelled like something rotting. Fortunately, I perservered rather than throwing it out and it turned out delicious. I love Indian food because I love spicy food.

1/14/2006 10:43 PM  
Blogger OldRoses said...

Oops! I forgot. I have linked you on my cooking blog as a cooking blog in the winter. Getting the HTML code right for it was interesting and fun.

1/14/2006 10:44 PM  
Blogger Entangled said...

I just discovered your blog - really like your recipe ideas!

FWIW, I think the pakora recipe may have meant dried pomegranate seeds, a.k.a. anardana.

1/24/2006 2:32 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

OldRoses, der! I read your comment a while ago and forgot to respond. My husband loves tandoor chicken, but I don't know how to make it... yet!

Entangled, welcome to my blog! Dried pomegranate seeds? Do you think that it would make a difference? Do they taste different when they are dry, or do you think that is why my batter was so darn runny?

1/24/2006 5:17 PM  
Blogger Entangled said...

I think the pomegranate seeds are meant to be a "spice" ingredient more than a "main" ingredient, so that's why I assumed they meant the dried ones. There's a similar recipe here:

A lot of pakoras I've had are like fritters - big gobs of batter around little bits of vegetable. But come to think of it, we had some green chile pakoras once that were just whole green chiles dipped in batter. So...hard to say what the recipe meant for the consistency to be.

I gotta check out this vegetarian cookbook - sounds great!

1/25/2006 3:08 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Entangled, I did grind the fresh pomegranate seeds into the batter, so essentially it should have been the same, right? Maybe I will have to get some of this "anardana".

Yummy pakoras!

And this book is THE BEST COOKBOOK!!

I got it at Borders for $20. Worth every penny and then some.

1/26/2006 10:30 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I like these Indian food recipes!

1/26/2008 4:11 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Linda, welcome to my blog, and thanks for that recipe link!

When I was in Scotland they liked to serve a tomato chutney instead of ketchup with their fries, and I LOVED it!! This recipe looks very similar, and I can't wait to try it.

Also, My son is very fond of lassi. He will be very happy to be able to have it at home.


2/24/2008 9:48 PM  

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