RECIPE: Pakoras (Indian Fritters)

People & Culture

Indian Pakoras

Every autumn, India becomes a little bit brighter with the celebration of Diwali – a Hindu festival of lights. You will find millions of diyas (oil lamps) lit around doorsteps, windows, and temples. The light symbolizes all that is good over all that is evil.

It’s a typical 5-day period of preparation, leading up to the actual celebration, which takes place on the darkest night, or start of a new moon. This year, Diwali falls on October 30th. A national holiday in India and some other countries around the world, celebrations are enjoyed with loved ones, and include prayers, fireworks, gift giving, and of course, feasting.

Woman Holding Diya at Diwali, India
Lighting a diya at Diwali
Taj Mahal at Sunrise, Agra, India
The Taj Mahal in Agra at sunrise

Along with Indian sweets and other treats, you will find pakoras served on many Indian tables, as they make an ideal snack or appetizer. Pakoras are deep-fried fritters which can be customized with whatever vegetable you choose to add. Common pakoras are made with spinach, cauliflower, potatoes, or onions. If you’re like me and like to mix salty with sweet, you can even try making it with bananas.

The recipe below is a basic pakora, meaning it’s got the base ingredients to make this a delicious treat, or you can add your own vegetable of choice if you wish, along with accompanying spices.

It’s best to serve pakoras with a dipping sauce such as a mint or coconut chutney, but tomato or chili sauce can also accompany these fritters.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gram (chickpea) flour
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 small to medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green chili, seeds removed and finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 2-3 pinches of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup water for batter
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. With the exception of the water, combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Slowly add water to form a thick but flowing batter (you may need a bit more than 1/4 cup).
  3. Use a wired whisk or wooden spoon to help remove any lumps and form a smooth batter.
  4. Add enough oil for deep frying in a kadai (wok type dish) or shallow pan, and heat.
  5. When the oil is medium hot, drop in spoonfuls of the batter and fry until golden brown.
  6. Line a plate with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil, as you remove the pakoras from the heat.
  7. Serve hot with your choice of dipping sauce.