Crispy pakoras, made with potato, spinach and onion, and spiced with turmeric, cumin and black pepper. There’s also coriander for freshness and green chillies for just a hint of heat. These pakoras are small but mighty and so deliciously moreish, that you’ll struggle to stop at just one… or two…. or three…. Maybe even more. I’m also serving this with a tamarind chuntey, which is super easy to make and provides a lovely sweet and sour contrast to the pakoras.
Pakoras, pakoda, fritters (or bora as we Bangladeshis call it). Whatever you want to call it, these irresisstible bites of goodness are an easy and satisfying snack or party appetizer to make. I added spinach, so you know, you can get some greens in, but you could add whatever vegetables you have in the house. It takes little to now time to prepare the ingredients and within about 10 minutes you will have a batch of golden pakoras ready to eat.
I will be honest with you guys, I had good intentions and was planning on making this a recipe for baked pakoras to make it lighter than frying them. But I wasn’t very pleased with their outcome (and neither were my very traditionalist family) so I stuck to the tried and tested method of frying. The baked version were soft and squidgy as opposed to crispy and took almost 3 times as long to make than one batch of their fried counterpart. They tasted fine I guess and I am sure that there are some who would make that texture sacrifice to make it a healthier recipe, but I could not find it in my heart to share a sad recipe for non-crispy pakoras with you, readers. I will however, endeavour again sometimes in the future to try and perfect a recipe for oven baked pakoras.
I also have a wonderful refreshing tamarind chutney to pair with the pakoras, made with tamarind and sweetened with dates and a little bit of sugar. You can omit the sugar and use just dates if you want to make it sugar free. As I mentioned in my Sri Lankan Chicken Curry recipe, tamarind can be found in dried blocks in most large supermarkets.I used a slightly soft, sweet tamarind pulp that was packaged in a slab.
I flavoured the chutney with these super cool Pani Puri Masala spice drops from Holy Lama*. Instead of a powder, you get a concentrated liquid extract, similar to vanilla, with all the fragrant flavour of mint, ginger and cumin in just a single drop. As there’s no need to cook it off like you would with ground spices, I just added a single drop when I was serving the chutney. If you store the chutney in an airtight, sterilised container, it should keep for a while.
- 1 cup of chickpea flour
- 1 tbs corn flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp curry powder or garam masala
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2-3 cups of spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 medium potato, grated
- 3-4 green chillies, finely chopped (optional)
- Handful coriander, chopped
- 1 tbs dried tamarind pulp, broken into small pieces
- 4 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 2 tbs sugar
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 drop pani puri masala extract (optional)
- Grate the potato using the large side of a box grater. Wash and leave the potato to soak in cold water to remove starch and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, add chickpea flour, corn flour, all the ground spices, seasonings and the baking powder and whisk well. Slowly add in the warm water and mix well until you have a smooth and loose batter. It should be slightly thicker than pancake batter.
- Drain the potato and squeeze to remove excess water and starch before adding to the batter. Squeeze sliced onions to remove moisture then add to the batter as well. Then add in spinach, coriander and green chilli and mix well until everything is well combined.
- Place a deep pan or pot of oil on a high heat and allow to heat up. Test the heat of the oil by dropping a small piece of onion to the oil. If it bubbles and rises to the surface, then the oil is hot enough. Use a tablespoon or your hand to carefully drop batter into the oil and fry in batches.
- Leave on a medium-high heat to cook for about 5 minutes on one side and then using a slotted spoon, turn over to cook for a further 3-5 minutes on other side.
- Fry until the pakoras are a deep golden colour and crispy on the outside. Tap the pakoras with your spoon to test the pakoras are crispy and crunchy on the outside.
- Once fried to a deep golden brown colour, use slotted spoon to remove from oil and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain excess oil.
- To prepare tamarind chutney, break the tamarind into small pieces and add to a small pot with water and let it gently simmer on a medium heat. Stir and press with your spoon to help break down the tamarind. After about 3 minutes, add in the dates and sugar. Again use your spoon to break down tamarind and date.
- Leave to bubble and simmer on a low to medium heat until the tamarind and date break down into a fairly smooth puree and it has thickened in consistency. If the chutney looks a little dry, add a few tablespoons of water to loosen mix.
- Once the tamarind and dates have softened down and the chutney has come together, remove from heat and leave to cool before passing through a strainer to remove any fibrous bits or pulp. Pour into a small bowl and add in the drop of pani puri masala. Serve with pakoras.
- Squeezing the potato and onions helps get rid of excess moisture and makes for a crispier pakora.
- If you want to test the spices and seasoning, fry one pakora, taste and then adjust as necessary.