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  • Spinach Pakoras

    YIELD: 17–20 PIECES
    TOOLS: You’ll need 2 large mixing bowls; a kadhai, wok, or saucepan; a slotted spoon; a baking sheet; and a small, flat bowl.
    COOKING TIPS: The oil should be about 350°F / 180°C, but not much hotter than that. If you feel like the pakoras are frying too quickly, reduce the heat to low. You don’t want them to cook too quickly on the outside and then remain uncooked on the inside.

    You can also make a batch and keep them in the oven on the warm setting to serve later, or pan fry or bake them. If baking, place 1 tablespoon of batter in each section of an oiled or nonstick muffin pan and bake for 25 minutes at 350°F / 180°C. Flip them over and bake for 1 to 2 minutes for extra crispiness. Remove from the oven.

    I’m going to be honest: I grew up having pakoras made for me all the time. I’d never made them myself—never had to—until I had my own family. I had to ask my aunts in Chandigarh to show me how they were able to whip them up for company so quickly—they’d have them mixed, cooked, and plated in minutes. Turns out, it’s not that complicated—it’s just a matter of having a few key spices handy to get the true Punjabi flavors.

    • 2 cups /90 g packed, chopped fresh spinach
    • 1 medium red onion, diced
    • 1 (2-inch / 5-cm) piece ginger, peeled and grated or minced
    • 1–3 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and finely sliced
    • 1 cup /110 g besan (gram or chickpea flour)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
    • ½ teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)
    • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon /120 mL warm water
    • 2 cups /470 mL vegetable oil, for frying
    1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach, onion, ginger, and fresh chiles and mix well to combine. Set aside.
    2. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the besan, salt, red chile powder, turmeric, and ajwain and stir well to combine. You can also add other spices, including garam masala, ground black pepper, and so on. Be as creative as you like. Add the water to the besan mixture and stir until smooth. This mixture should be slightly thick and not too watery. Make sure that there are no lumps in the batter.
    3. Slowly fold the spinach mixture into the batter.
    4. In a small kadhai, wok, or saucepan over medium–high heat, warm the oil. The oil should be about 1 inch / 3 cm deep in the deepest part of the kadhai. You’ll know the oil is hot enough if you drop in a cumin seed and it sizzles and rises to the top immediately.
    5. Using a tablespoon measure, carefully place 4 tablespoons / 60 mL of batter into the oil, 1 at a time, and cook for about 30 seconds on 1 side, until lightly browned but just shy of being cooked through. Turn over each of the pakoras and cook for 30 seconds more.
    6. Remove the pakoras with a slotted spoon and transfer to a baking sheet lined with a paper towel to absorb extra oil. Place a small, flat bowl on top of each pakora and press down lightly.
    7. Return the pakoras to the hot oil and cook for 30 to 40 seconds on each side, until golden brown. Remove from the heat. Remove the pakoras with a slotted spoon and transfer to the baking tray lined with fresh paper towels to absorb the oil. My aunts in Chandigarh insist on doing this to ensure the pakoras are extra crispy. It also helps to make sure they cook through. Don’t worry: You can fry them just once as well. Just cook them a little longer to ensure they cook through.
    8. Repeat Steps 5, 6, and 7 until you have finished frying all the pakoras. Remove from the heat.
    9. Transfer the pakoras to a serving platter and serve them with a side of Pudina ki and/or Imlee ki Chutney.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

© 2016 Alta Editions LLC.