A bowl full of pakoras, with chutney and salad on the side is a sure recipe for abundant praise. It is important to understand what makes pakoras fly from the bowl with such speed, it is the batter which matters most. Experience rather than downloads of recipes can get you that tasty batter right, every time. Water, haldi/turmeric, besan/gram flour, ajaiwain/carom, red chilli flakes and powder and salt needs to be mixed well, whether to add baking powder or refined flour is best left to experimentation. Adding some finely chopped fresh coriander leaves to the batter is an interesting take, negative being, too many of those may show up on the periphery and get burnt. Best part of the batter is that you can play around with it from one kadhai/wok load to another. You are free to add more spices to the batter, most spices work very well with gram flour, rosemary works very well in batter for me.
Non-veg pakoras are trickier than veg pakoras, you have to ensure that the batter doesn’t burn before the meat gets cooked, which can be difficult to achieve. Perfect extended marination is one way of getting meat right, the second easier option is boil meat to a semi cooked stage and use the stock as a substitute for water in the batter. Works very well. Fish is of course not as difficult as mutton. Making pakora balls of meat and chicken is a good option, just use cooked minced meat for the balls. Those who eat pakoras don’t talk about calories, right? Best medium for frying pakoras is Mustard Oil, pakoras don’t taste even half as good if they are fried in any other medium. Amongst non-veg pakoras, fish is the easiest and prawns the most diffcult, you need very thin batter for prawn pakoras, but it can’t be thin enough to not form a layer and burn the prawns. Some people suggest baking pakoras, hmm… how about frying cake next time?
All time favorite veg pakoras are: palak/spinach; mirch/green chilli; mushroom; paneer/cottage cheese; aloo/ potato; gobi/ cauliflower and payaz/onion. Daal/ lentil pakoras, zucchini pakoras and jalapeno pakoras are fast emerging as favorites with a particular strata of our society. Bread pakoras are another food item in themselves, they are more like a meal.
India is a big country and pakora is called pakora in most parts of the country. Each region has their favorites on the basis of availability too, I have had vangun/ brinjal, raw banana and capsicum pakoras in some parts of the country. Pakoras are of course best had with chutneys, pudina/mint being must and salad- read onion rings & grated radish. Sprinkling some herbs and spices adds to the chatpata factor, however lemon juice can bring down much needed crispiness by more than a notch. Enjoy!
Varities of Pakora’s