Crunchy, delicious vegetable pakoras made from potatoes, onions and carrots. With tips to make crispy, light pakoras!
Vegetables pakoras go by many names, and I knew them as ‘bhajjis’ or ‘bhajiyas’growing up. With just a few Indian pantry staples needed to make them, these crunchy nibbles can be whipped up at short notice. Pakoras and chai are one of those classic matches that are made in culinary heaven, and if it happens to be a cold and rainy day, then vegetable pakoras and chai are exactly what I need! That’s my version of Indian ‘hygge’, right there!
Vegetable pakoras are one of those inherently simple, classic snacks that can never go out of style, they are my go-to for entertaining friends. For an Indian dinner menu – in a more formal setting , I’ll usually serve my paneer tikka or sweet potato and pea samosas as an appetizer, but for a more casual gathering of friends I will usually go with something like eggs puffs or these vegetable pakoras, usually accompanied with a side of masala chai.
What is a pakora?
Pakora is a mildly-spiced fritter served with a side of green chutney or tomato ketchup, a very popular snack in India. Pakoras go by several names – pakodas, bhajjis, pakodi, bhajiya – varying from region to region in India.
No matter the name, the essential ingredients that make up a pakora are the same - vegetable pakoras are made by dipping any combination of vegetables such as potatoes, onions, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. into a batter made with gram four. There are several varieties of pakoras, ranging from paneer pakoras to chicken pakoras to chili pakoras. The more common ones are onion and potato pakoras – as these as pantry staples in every Indian household.
Tips to make vegetable pakoras:
Veggies - Chop up your veggies nice and thin, or shred them – I like to use my food processor to shred the potatoes and carrots. You can use a grater as well. Thinly sliced onions, sliced eggplant, shredded or thinly sliced potatoes, shredded or grated carrots, cauliflowers cut into small florets, paneer cut into bite-sized cubes, all are perfect for pakora frying!
Batter flour - The pakora batter is typically made with gram flour and spices such as Kashmiri chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and ginger. I recommend adding rice flour to the batter – rice flour adds to the crunch-factor and keeps the pakoras crispy for longer. Before you make the batter, sieve the gram flour– this is optional, but it helps in getting rid of lumps.
Whisk the batter - Add just enough water to make a batter that coats the veggies well, the batter should coat the back of a spoon, and not contain too much water. A tip I learnt from my mother-in-law - whisking the batter to incorporate air into it makes the batter light and airy. No one likes a dense and chewy vegetable pakora that is more batter than veggie!
Temperature of oil - The key here is to make sure that the temperature of the oil used for deep-frying is just right. If the oil is too hot, the vegetable pakoras will brown quickly, and if the oil isn’t hot enough, the pakoras will soak up the oil and absorb it. Test the temperature of the oil by adding a little of the batter – just a drop to the oil. The batter should sink down to the bottom and them bubble up to the surface. This is the temperature you need!
Commonly asked questions about pakoras:
Are vegetable pakoras vegan?
Yes pakoras are vegan, and gluten-free as well! This is one of the reasons why I love serving vegetable pakoras to friends at a gathering, they go down with everyone, no matter their dietary requirements.
Is gram flour the same as chickpea flour?
Gram flour, also known as besan in Hindi, is not the same as chickpea flour. Gram flour is made from split and husked Bengal grams – also known as chana dal. Chickpea flour is made from chickpeas or garbanzo beans. Although both come from the same legume family, the two should not be used as substitutes for each other.
How do you keep pakoras crispy?
Rice flour is an important ingredient in making pakoras – they increase that much sought-after crispiness of pakoras. If you are making vegetable pakoras a few hours ahead of serving them, I suggest you keep them wrapped up in aluminum foil and warm them in a preheated oven at 150 C for 15 minutes before serving them. This keeps them crisp and warm.
- 3 medium carrots
- 2 medium potatoes
- 2 medium onions
- For the batter:
- 1 cup gram flour also known as besan, sifted
- ¼ cup rice flour
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- Salt to season
- Ginger garlic paste 1 teaspoon
- ⅓ teaspoon Asafetida optional
- ½ cup fresh coriander chopped
- Water as needed
- Oil for deep frying
- Prep all your ingredients. Grate or shred the carrots and potatoes, slice the onions thin. If you are not using a grater or shredder, then slice all the vegetables finely.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the batter. Add the water to the dry ingredients, a little at a time, until you have a batter that coats the back of a spoon. Do not add too much water. Whisk well, for 3-5 minutes. This helps in making the batter light and airy.
- Add the vegetables to the batter and mix well. At this point you can check the consistency of the mixture. If it feels too dry, you can add more water. If it feels too wet, add more gram flour. The vegetables should be coated well with the batter.
- In a wok or deep-frying pan, heat the vegetable oil. The oil should be at least 2 inches deep. To test the temperature of the oil, add a drop of batter. If it bubbles and rises to the surface, the oil is ready for deep frying.
- Take spoonfuls of the batter and fry them in batches. Flip to fry both sides. Once golden brown, transfer the vegetable pakoras to a kitchen paper to absorb excel oil.
- Serve with green chutney or ketchup.
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