WHO DOESN'T LOVE A PAKORA?
Fried fritters made with chickpea flour, spices, and veggies. An elevated, gluten-free version of onion rings is how I like to describe a pakora to my non-Indian friends. With chutney, they are simply a dream. But, I’m not a huge fan of the fried aspect of making pakoras. Why I wanted to try something different by baking them. Those of you who have my book Vegan Indian Cooking will know that on page 104, I do give you a pan-baked version. But, that's cut into squares. Delicious, but I wanted to create a pakora that looked like the balls of fried yum that we are used to and that we use in our many curries. I also wanted to use up the dozens of little containers of leftover celery juice pulp that are piling up on the top shelf of my fridge that my husband was screaming about this weekend. I'm not sure he truly appreciates the degree of creativity it takes to come up with these recipes! I was vindicated when he approved the recipe below by wolfing down an entire batch.
2 cups besan (chickpea flour)
2 cups leftover pulp from juicing anything works – celery, ginger, turmeric, beet pulp
1 medium onion, minced
1-6 Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and minced
1 teaspoon baking powder important for fluffiness
2 tablespoons Veganaise plant-based mayo – use regular mayo if you prefer
2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves, crushed gently in hand first
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons chaat masala
2 teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray a mini muffin pan with oil.
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. The mixture should be moist but not too wet, add more water a tablespoon at a time if needed. If the mixture is too watery, just add some flour in a tablespoon at a time.
Using a tablespoon-measuring spoon, drop a dollop of batter into each muffin cup. This batter makes about 48 pieces. I use one chopstick to help take out the batter from the spoon into the muffin tin. Not to worry, they should be odd sizes. Fill any empty cups in your muffin tray with water so that they don’t burn when baking.
Bake for 23 minutes. Remove tray from oven and cool. Eat as is or with tamarind or mint chutney. You can use them in a spicy yogurt soup we call kadhi, folded between a roti or naan, smashed between two pieces of bread, or wedged into a steaming pita. You can also use these as a plant-based addition to any Indian jar of sauce, hopefully, our own Indian As Apple Pie Vegan Tikka Masala Sauce, made creamy with almonds rather than dairy.
Quick Tips: If you don't have a particular spice above. Not to worry. Leave it out - but add it when you have it available. Each layer of spice adds another layer of flavor.
NO PULP? No problem. If you don't juice and have pulp leftover? Not a worry, either. Sub any minced veggie. A really fun idea is grating fresh cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini or squash. I used butternut squash the other day and it was off the charts delish.
HERE'S WHY ... you want to use baking powder, a dry leavening agent. On the left, the results without baking powder. On the right, the result with a 1/4 teaspoon. I upped it to 1/2 teaspoon for the recipe above.