Pakora (north india) or bhaji (south india)

Pakora (north india) or bhaji (south india)

By
From
The Art Of The Larder
Photographer
Mike Lusmore

Gram flour is made from chickpeas and is gluten-free. It is readily available in Indian grocery shops and bigger supermarkets. My storecupboard is never without it. Gram flour is one of the most versatile flours I use and one I rely on heavily in my home cooking. Common in Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Nepali recipes, it is also used extensively in southern European cooking. It is a ridiculously inexpensive and brilliant ingredient.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
neutral oil, for shallow frying (sunflower, vegetable, groundnut)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons masala or curry powder, plus extra to serve
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes, (optional – or more to taste)
100g gram flour

Choose 3 of the following:

Quantity Ingredient
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, cut into short matchsticks or coarsely grated
1 medium potato, cut into short matchsticks or coarsely grated
1/4 head cauliflower, broken into small florets
handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped
3 green or red chillies, thinly sliced
1 aubergine, thinly sliced then cut into matchsticks
100g spinach, sliced into ribbons
1/4 cabbage, thinly sliced into ribbons

Method

  1. Prepare your choice of vegetables.
  2. Heat up the oil in a large pan or wok to a medium heat, deep enough to shallow fry the vegetables.
  3. Sprinkle the salt and spices into a large mixing bowl and sift in the gram flour. Add a small amount of water (about 120ml in total), a little at a time, to make a thick batter that will coat all the vegetables. Add the vegetables and mix well. Do not leave the batter and vegetable mixture for too long before cooking.
  4. Test your oil is hot enough by dropping a little batter into the oil. If it browns and rises immediately, it is ready. Very carefully drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil and fry until golden brown, turning them over in the boiling oil if necessary with a slotted spoon.
  5. Work in batches, being careful to not overcrowd the pan.
  6. Once golden brown and crisp, remove from the oil and set aside on some kitchen paper, sprinkled with a bit more garam masala or curry powder and a little extra salt if you like.
  7. Serve with jarred Indian pickles, seasoned yoghurt and lime wedges.
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