a collection of pakoras

tofu pakora laigniappe

This recipe was adapted from the original found on p. 454 of Yamuna Devi’s “Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking.” I substituted our island pumpkin from Annette’s stand for the pumpkin called for in the original recipe. I also made a few test pakoras with sliced bananas and ochroes, the former of which were probably the better experiment. If you share my fasctination with battering & frying a variety of foods, this pakora recipe provides a forgiving, delicious batter for use in your test kitchen.

I have had my best luck with this recipe using thinly-sliced butternut squash instead of pumpkin. Also, I opt not to use the baking powder called for in the recipe, preferring a less cakelike texture.

  • 1 1/3c. sifted chickpea flour (sifted before measuring)
  • 1 1/2-2t. salt
  • 2t. melted ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1/2t. turmeric
  • 1/4t. asafoetida powder
  • 1T. crushed coriander seeds
  • 2T. yogurt
  • 1/2c. cold water, or enough to make a batter of medium consistency
  • 1/4t. baking powder (optional)
  • 25-35 pieces of trimmed, peeled ripe pumpkin, cut into 2 inch squares 1/4 inch thick
    ghee or vegetable oil for frying

Place the flour, salt, melted ghee or vegetable oil, turmeric, asafoetida, crushed coriander seeds and yogurt in a bowl and mix well. Add 1/2 cup of water slowly, beating with an electric beater or wire whisk until the batter is smooth and easily coats a wooden spoon. Alternately, place the batter ingredients in a good processor fitted with the metal blade, or a blender, and process until the coriander seeds are crushed and the texture is smooth, then transfer to a bowl. Cover the batter and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Again beat the batter with an electric mixer, wire whisk, or your hand for 2-3 minutes to further lighten the batter. (Check the batter consistency: if it is too think, moist foods will spatter as they fry; if it is too thick, they will not cook properly. Add water or flour as necessary). Stir in the baking powder at this time if you prefer a cake-like crust. Set the pumpkin pieces to be friend next to the stove. They should be patted dry and at room temperature.

Heat 2 1/2-3 inches of fresh ghee or vegetable oil in a karai, wok, or deep-frying vessel (Aunt Itsy’s Skillet, for instance) until the temperature reaches 355-degrees. Dip 5-6 pieces of pumpkin in the batter and, one at a time, carefully slip them into the hot oil. The temperature will fall but should then be maintained at between 345-355-degrees throughout the frying. Fry until the pakoras are golden brown, turning to brown evenly, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately, or keep warm, uncovered, in a preheated 250-degree oven, until all of the pakoras are fried, for up to 1/2 hour.

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