The Indian subcontinent is famous for its fried snacks, from samosas to papdi chaat. Vegetable pakoras are among those snacks you can enjoy at various restaurants and street vendor carts across the subcontinent.
They are spiced fritters made with a collection of cut vegetables coated in a paste of besan or ground chickpea flour and lightly fried in hot oil. Depending on where you are, they may be called by a different name, and they may take on various spice combinations, but they are similarly prepared.
Sometimes pakoras are rolled into balls and fried. However, I grew up learning how to cut the vegetables into sticks (or bâtonnet-style) and spooning vegetable clusters into hot oil until golden brown.
I love this preparation because each mouthful is different. Those bites of coriander and potato are particularly mouthwatering. It’s a relatively quick and straightforward recipe that makes for an addictive appetizer for your next outing. Serve it with our mint chutney or Patak’s sweet mango chutney!
So, let’s get frying!
How to Cut the Vegetables
- Potatoes: peel the white potatoes and slice them lengthwise into 0.5-inch slices. Then, cut the potato slices crosswise into sticks to bâtonnet the potatoes.
- Baby Eggplant: slice the baby eggplant lengthwise into 0.5-inch slices. Then, cut the eggplant crosswise into sticks to bâtonnet the eggplant.
- Cauliflower: cut a circle into the base of a small cauliflower head to remove the florets. Separate each floret into its tiny flowers. Cut the remaining cauliflower pieces into paysanne cuts.
- Onion: Slice the onion lengthwise into 0.5-inch slices. Then, cut the onion lengthwise into 0.25-inch sticks.
- Green Pepper: clean the green pepper, remove its seeds, and cut it into sticks. Then, cut each stick in half.
- Spinach and Cilantro: roughly chop spinach and finely chop cilantro.
How to Create a Spicier Pakora
We only use a small amount of red chili powder for these pakoras to create a mild heat. However, if you prefer a spicier pakora, add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp additional red chili powder for a spicier bite.
How to Work the Pakora Dough with Your Hands
After cutting the vegetables:
- Combine them into a mixing bowl and add besan (ground chickpea) flour and water.
- Fold the vegetables into the flour and water with your hands until all ingredients are mixed well, and the besan flour and water create a thin paste and generously coats the vegetables.
- If the dough appears too thick, add a touch more water to achieve the right consistency.
How to Deep Fry Pakora
To make pakoras, heat the oil in a sufficiently deep frying pan. For this process, use high-heat oil. We use sunflower or grapeseed oil for our recipe, safely heated to 420 degrees Fahrenheit (216 degrees Celsius). Ensure 3 inches of the frying pan is filled with oil. Turn the stovetop to medium-high heat to ensure the oil does not heat too quickly. Use a thermometer to gauge the temperature.
When the oil reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius), take a spoonful of vegetables coated in the pakora dough and add it to the hot oil. Turn the heat on the stovetop to medium to hold the heat steady at this temperature.
It is important not to crowd the pakoras during the frying process. So, cook the pakoras in batches, if necessary. Cook the pakoras for 1-2 minutes on either side until crispy and golden brown. Place them onto a paper-towel-lined plate once cooked.
We blend a classic mint chutney for these pakoras; however, sweet mango chutney is an incredible alternative worth mentioning! We recommend Patak’s sweet mango chutney. It has robust pickled mango and ginger notes making it a perfect accompaniment!
Reheating and Storage
You may store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consume them for up to 3 days. However, you may also choose to freeze them instead and consume them for up to 3 months. To reheat frozen or refrigerated pakoras, bake them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius) for 5-10 minutes or until warm throughout.
Store leftover mint chutney in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consume it for up to 2 weeks.
Visit your local liquor store and request a bottle featuring these characteristics to find the perfect pair.
- Color: white
- Notes: honeysuckle, quince, pear, apple, chamomile, ginger
- Geography: old world
- Structure: medium-bodied, high acidity
Purge Your Fridge
You just finished scarfing down our pakoras with mint chutney, and you are left with the following leftover ingredients:
- 1/4 onion
- 1/4 green pepper
- 1/2 potato
Here are some tasty options to rid your fridge of the leftover ingredients:
- 3 cups besan (ground chickpea) flour
- 17 tbsp water
- 2 cups potatoes bâtonnet
- 2 cups baby eggplant bâtonnet
- 2 cups cauliflower chopped
- 1/2 cup green pepper bâtonnet
- 1 cup onion sliced
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup spinach roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
- 32 oz. sunflower oil
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tbsp salt
- 3/4 white onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 cup cilantro
- 1 cup mint leaves
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- ground pepper
Cut the Vegetables
- Peel the white potatoes. Slice them lengthwise into 0.5-inch slices. Then, cut the potato slices crosswise into sticks to bâtonnet the potatoes.
- Slice the baby eggplant lengthwise into 0.5-inch slices. Then, cut the eggplant crosswise into sticks to bâtonnet the eggplant.
- Slice the onion lengthwise into 0.5-inch slices. Then, cut the onion lengthwise into 0.25-inch sticks.
- Clean, remove seeds, and bâtonnet green pepper. Then, cut each stick in half.
- Cut a circle into the base of a small cauliflower head to remove the florets. Separate each floret into its tiny flowers. Cut remaining cauliflower pieces into paysanne cuts.
- Roughly chop spinach and finely chop cilantro.
Make the Mint Chutney (for Dipping)
- Combine onion, garlic, mint, cilantro, and apple cider vinegar to a food processor. Grind well.
- Add chutney to a bowl and stir in salt, ground cumin, and ground pepper. Set aside.
Toast and Grind the Garam Masala Spices
- Break open cardamom pods, discard the shells, and set aside the seeds.
- Place a dry saucepan on the stovetop at medium-low heat.
- Add coriander seeds, cumin seeds, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, cardamom seeds, black peppercorns, and cloves to a dry saucepan.
- Dry sauté the spices for 30 seconds to 1 minute to toast them.
- Add whole and ground spices to a coffee grinder and grind them into a powder.
Mix the Pakora Dough
- Combine potatoes, baby eggplant, onion, green pepper, cauliflower, frozen peas, spinach, and cilantro in a mixing bowl.
- Toss well to ensure all ingredients are well mixed.
- Add besan chickpea flour, water, garam masala, red chili powder, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and salt into the mixing bowl.
- Use your hands to fold the vegetables and spices into the flour and water. A thin flour paste should coat the vegetables generously.
Heat the Oil in a Deep Saucepan
- Place a saucepan (deep enough for frying) on the stovetop at medium-high heat.
- Add the sunflower oil and allow it to heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius).
Fry the Pakoras in Batches
- When the oil is hot, use a spoon to scoop a spoonful of vegetables coated in the chickpea paste and drop the spoonful into the oil.
- As you move around the pot, repeat this step, adding equal-sized spoonfuls of vegetables coated in the chickpea paste. Arrange the pakoras approximately 2 inches apart in the pan of oil.
- Fry the pakoras (in batches) for 2 minutes on either side until golden brown. Remove them from the oil and place them on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Serve pakoras on a platter with mint chutney (and sweet mango chutney if desired).
- Garnish with Maldon salt flakes and chopped cilantro.
- Serve and enjoy.