Indian pakoras are delicious fried fritters often served as a snack along with tea. Generally, they are made using a variety of vegetables but they can also be made using paneer (Indian cheese) or even chicken. Pakoras are enjoyed throughout India and have even become popular around the globe.
In my mother tongue, Marathi, we call them "bhajji". Regardless of their name, they are delicious & addictive. The "milk" trick is an unusual one but always works - credit goes to my father for that hack :-)
There are no hard and fast rules but commonly used vegetables include: yellow onions, potatoes, green bell peppers, cauliflower and spinach. But you could also use baby corn, peanuts, paneer, mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, green beans...
VEGETABLE PAKORAS (Bhajjis)
2 cups assorted vegetables, paneer cubes
Ż+ cup of milk, as needed
Oil for deep frying (vegetable or peanut)
1 cup besan (Bengal gram or chickpea flour)
2 tbsp rice flour
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp turmeric
Ż tsp ground cumin
1 tsp red chili powder (to taste)
1 tbsp HOT oil
water as needed
Wash & trim all the vegetables: cut the potatoes and onions into thin rounds, the green bell pepper into large strips and the cauliflower into medium size florets. The vegetables should be completely DRY before use. If you are planning to make paneer pakoras, use extra firm paneer.
In a deep cast iron skillet or wok, heat the oil on medium high heat. There should be enough oil for deep frying, this will obviously depend on the size of the vessel.
To make the Batter:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the besan with the spices (salt, turmeric, ground cumin powder and red chili powder). Next add the rice flour and milk. Stir well to combine and add the water very slowly. Mix to form a fairly smooth but thick batter. Now add 1 tbsp of the HOT oil to the batter and mix it in. This is the key to crispy and crunchy pakoras.
In a small bowl, add the milk. Let the vegetables soak for a few minutes in the milk. Then dip the vegetable pieces into the batter. Remove any excess batter and very carefully lower the batter coated veggies into the hot oil. Reduce the heat to medium, also be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry on medium low, turning the veggies just once. The veggies should be golden on all sides and crispy. Remove and drain well. Serve with your favorite chutney or sauce.
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