Across the subcontinent it is common to hear or smell something sizzling in oil by the side of the road, usually at a bus stop or somewhere busy, where the vendor will skilfully scoop up a little bit of batter, containing anything from onion to cauliflower or broccoli, and swirl it around in the hot oil. Their crispy pakoras hit the spot every time. Served with a dip of some sort, sometimes yoghurt or mint chutney, or a sambar, they are filling and delicious — and coming out of that hot oil they are generally safe, too.
Making them at home is easy. Just be sure to cut the vegetables to the same size, so they cook through evenly.
For the batter, place all the ingredients in a bowl, add
Heat the rice bran oil in a sturdy wok or heavy-based saucepan to 180°C (375°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns brown in 15 seconds.
To make the pakoras, take either individual pieces of your chosen vegetable, or a combination of them, and place into the batter to lightly coat.
Carefully add a few pakoras to the hot oil, allowing them to clump together. Don’t put too many in at once, or the oil will cool, and the pakoras will be limp and soggy. Cook for 3–5 minutes, until they turn a light golden brown, then remove and drain on paper towel.
Serve warm, with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds, coriander sprigs and a dipping sauce of your choice.
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