Crispy Pakora with Green Mint Sauce and Rhubarb Chutney
This recipe started with 5 kg / 10 lb of grated cabbage taking up a whole lot of space in our fridge. I had rescued the cabbage from being tossed away after a test cooking project I was involved in. My idea was that Luise could make sauerkraut from it (she is the kraut-master in the family). But even after Luise made two massive jars of krauts, we had lots of cabbage left and every time I opened the fridge, that cabbage stared down at me. Until last weekend when Luise and the kids left for Denmark and I had a sudden pakora craving and realized that this was the perfect opportunity to use up some of that cabbage.
If you haven’t tried pakora before, it is an Indian deep-fried snack that can be made in numerous varieties, but chickpea (gram) flour and spices are usually the base of the batter. It is brilliant in its simplicity and if you go light in the spices, it’s usually popular with kids as well.
You normally mix water with the chickpea flour to make the batter, but since I used cabbage, carrot and zucchini, which all release a lot of liquid when grated, I used that liquid and just a little bit of water. My theory is that by getting as much liquid out of the vegetables you get a crispier end result. And it makes more sense to use their own liquid rather than first draining the liquid from the grated vegetables and then adding water.
I have tried two different cooking versions here, one fried in oil and one baked in the oven. You can see both versions in the photo below. The fried version (with flatter surface) is definitly crispier when eaten hot, but the baked version (with black nigella seeds on top) is not that far behind. Luise prefers the baked because it’s healthier and I lean towards the fried because it’s crispier and crunchier.
I did a little insta query on what sauce to dunk them in and since the results were split, I went for three different sauces 🙂 A fresh mint and coriander sauce, a tangy rhubarb chutney and a creamy yogurt sauce. Obviously you don’t have to make them all.
100 g / 3 1/2 oz carrots
100 g / 3 1/2 oz cabbage
100 g / 3 1/2 oz zucchini
a handful baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
100 g / 3/4 cup chickpea / gram flour
4 tbsp rice flour (or more chickpea flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
4 tbsp water (or olive oil if making the baked version)
1. Grate cabbage, carrot and zucchini and place in a bowl along with the salt.
2. Use your hands to knead and squeeze the vegetables for a minute or two until they release their liquid. Then add the spinach.
3. Stir together chickpea flour, baking powder and all the spices in a small bowl.
4. Add the flour mixture to the vegetables, along with 4 tablespoons water (use olive oil instead of water if you are making the baked version).
5. Mix it until all vegetables are covered in batter. The consistency should be similar to a dry muffin batter. Add a little extra water/oil if needed.
Fried version: Fill the bottom of a small frying pan with high edges with a heat proof oil (peanut oil/avocado oil/safflower oil/coconut oil) and place over medium heat. Add large tablespoons of vegetable batter into the oil and fry for a minute or two on each side until golden and crispy. Place on kitchen paper to soak up any extra oil and then transfer to a wire reck. Repeat until all are fried.
Baked version: Set the oven to 225°C/450°F. Place a baking paper on a baking tray (or use an oiled mini muffin tin). Drip 12 large tablespoons of batter next to each other on the baking paper. Sprinkle nigella seeds on top and place in the oven and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until golden and crispy.
Serve with dipping sauce of choice.