I remember when I was young, growing up in Kenya, we had two rainy seasons. The long rains and the short rains. When the rainy season started and when it first rained my dad would ask mom to make pakora. It was almost a guarantee that dad would want some fresh spinach potato onion pakora and masala chai. Now that I am all grown up and have kids of my own, I still think of dad whenever spring arrives and brings its first rainfall.
In Kenya we often would get unannounced guests. Mom would quickly produce a warm plate of pakora and chai for the guests. She often made tamarind chutney and kept it in the fridge which she could hastily pull out and serve on such occasions.
There are so many different types of pakora that one can make. My kids love the spinach potato onion pakora, plain potato pakora, plain spinach pakora and the paneer pakora are a favourite too. I love cauliflower pakora and onion ring pakora. I am sure when you figure out how easy they are to make, you will find all kinds of things to turn into pakora – chicken, fish, shrimp, etc.
This spinach potato onion pakora is made with fresh spinach, 1 baking potato, 1 medium red onion, 1 green chilli, 2 garlic cloves, 1 inch of fresh ginger, and a bunch of fresh coriander. (Parsley is not the same as coriander, and it will change the flavour of the pakora.)
Wash a bunch of fresh spinach (or baby spinach) and chop finely – 2 cups worth. Wash and grate a baking potato – I keep the skin on, but you can peel it if you like. Finely chop the red onion, 1 green chilli and a 1/4 cup of fresh coriander. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger.
The other ingredients
Pakora is a very flavourful snack (much like a lot of other Indian food) and it takes a lot of spices to make it as flavourful as it is.
The pakora batter is made with chick pea flour, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric, red chilli powder (or paprika if you prefer it less hot). I also use 1 tablespoon of corn starch – this makes the pakora crisp. You can skip it if you don’t like it crisp. Or alternatively, you can add 1 tablespoon of rice flour.
Making the batter
In a large mixing bowl, combine the chickpea flour, corn starch, turmeric, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder and salt. Mix well to combine the spices with the chick pea flour. Add the minced garlic, grated ginger, green chilli and the fresh coriander.
At this point, if you want to make a different type of pakora other than the spinach potato onion pakora, you can add 3/4 a cup of water to this mix and use it as the batter for other pakora. The batter is the same for all kinds of pakora. The consistency should be similar to that of pancake batter, so that the vegetable, chicken, etc., gets well coated.
For this pakora, do not add water to make batter, instead you can add the spinach, potato and onion to the dry ingredients – the moisture from the vegetables will start the batter going.
Now you are ready to add the of water. Add one tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency. You are looking for the batter to be spoonable, so that you can drop it into the oil. Do not make it too runny or else the pakora will be more like latkes (flat). If you don’t add enough, and the batter is too thick, you will need to cook it for a lot longer so that the centre of the pakora gets cooked too or else you will be able to taste the raw batter.
Frying the pakora
Now you are ready to fry the pakora. You must make sure the oil is heated enough – 300 degrees F. If you do not have a thermometer to check the oil temperature, you can check the readiness of the oil by dropping a couple of drops of the batter into the oil. If the batter goes to the bottom and settles, the oil is not ready. If the batter rises right away and sizzles a lot, it’s too hot. The best temperature is when the batter goes to the bottom and rises gradually.
Fry the pakora so it’s well browned and you can see it crisping. I often fry a little tiny bit of the mix, so I can taste it and add more salt, chilli, etc., if needed. Place some paper towel on a large dinner plate or baking tray, so you can put the fried pakora on the paper towel. It will soak up some of the excess oil.
Enjoy with some tamarind chutney, or some mint and coriander chutney, or both and a hot cup of masala tea!
The Best Ever Spinach Potato Onion PakoraCourse: SnackCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Easy
Pakora – a crisp golden spinach, potato and onion deep fried snack made with an array of Indian spices and chick pea flour batter. Try it once and you will find ways of turning all kinds of things into pakora. This recipe makes a total of about 20 pakora.
2 cups chopped fresh spinach (you can use baby spinach)
1 baking potato
1 small onion
1/4 cup fresh coriander
2 garlic cloves
1 inch slice of ginger – grated
1 green chilli
2 cups chickpea flour (besan)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon red chilli powder (use paprika for a milder version)
1 cup cold water
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
- Heat the oil to 300 degrees F. (See note)
- Wash and finely chop the spinach.
- Wash and grate the potato into 1 cm cubes – I keep the skin on.
- Finely chop the onion and chilli. Grate the ginger. Mince the garlic cloves.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the chickpea flour (besan), corn starch, turmeric, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and red chilli powder.
- Add the minced garlic and grated ginger and mix well.
- To this add the spinach, potato, onion, fresh coriander and green chilli. Mix well. The wetness of the vegetables will help start the formation of the batter.
- Slowly add water to the bowl – one tablespoon at a time. The mix should be thick enough so you can scoop it with your hands or a spoon and drop into the oil.
- Drop a few tablespoons of the mix into the hot oil – do not over crowd the oil. Too many pakora in the oil will lower the temperature of the oil and the pakora will turn out greasy.
- Serve warm with a delicious cup of masala chai.
- – If you don’t have a thermometer to check the oil temperature, you can check the readiness of the oil by dropping a couple of drops of the batter into the oil. If the batter goes to the bottom and settles, the oil is not ready. If the batter rises right away and sizzles a lot, it’s too hot. The best temperature is when the batter goes to the bottom and rises gradually.
– Try the same spice / batter mix but replace the potatoes and spinach with paneer, or chicken, cauliflower or even onions to make Indian style onion rings.
– If you have left over batter, use it up to make extra pakora that can be reheated in a toaster oven or conventional oven. Do not leave the batter to use later. It will not taste very good.