Pakora (Indian Vegetable Fritters) | RecipeTin Eats


To make vegetable fritters irresistible … make Pakora!! These are Indian vegetable patties, spiced and fried until golden and crispy. They can be made with virtually any vegetable, so use this pakora recipe as a springboard to do your own variations.

Serve pakora as a starter for an Indian meal, a light meal, or pass them around as canapés at your next gathering!

Tray of freshly cooked Pakora ready to be served

Pakora: Indian Vegetable Fritters

This is street food, the Indian way! Sold as snacks on the streets of India and as popular appetisers in Indian restaurants elsewhere, pakora are crispy, bite-size vegetable fritters. They’re loaded with gorgeous Indian spices before being fried until crunchy.

These little nuggets are dangerously easy to eat, the sort of food you just keep popping into your mouth, one after the other, until you suddenly realise the plate is half empty and you look around to find someone to accuse – Who ate all the pakoras??!!!

Ssshhh!!! I will never tell – if you don’t!

Cone of Pakora for snacking

What goes in Pakora

Pakoras can be made with almost any vegetable that is suitable for cooking in fritter form. I’ve opted to use onion, potato and cauliflower, but there’s an extensive list below of other vegetables that can be used along with how to chop them.

Ingredients in Pakora
  • Chickpea flour – Also known as gram flour and besan, it is made from dried chickpeas and is a staple in Indian and Subcontinental cooking. Nowadays it’s sold at large grocery stores in Australia. The flavour is nutty and it’s denser than normal flour with better nutritional qualities (lower carb and higher in protein);

  • Fenugreek powder – A common Indian / Subcontinental spice, it oddly enough kind of smells like maple syrup. However it tastes nothing like it, and has a pungent and mysterious flavour. It’s available at stores that carry a decent range of spices. I found it at Harris Farms (Australia). Also, of course, at Indian grocery stores!

    Best sub: Garam masala or a generic curry powder. (These are not the same at all, but the extra flavour will compensate);

  • Chilli powder – This is pure ground chillies, not to be confused with US ‘chili powder’ which is a spice mix.

    Substitute: cayenne pepper. Feel free to reduce chilli powder if you’re concerned about spiciness. Start conservatively and cook a test pakora. Taste, and if you want more add more chilli into the batter;

  • Turmeric powder – Adds a beautifully warm, golden colour to the pakora;

  • Cumin, coriander and fresh ginger – Staple spices / aromatics in Indian cooking;

  • Fresh chilli – For their fruity flavour and a little warmth. I’m using large cayenne peppers here which are not that spicy, but rather add a warm hum to the pakoras. Generally the rule is the larger the chilli, the less spicy they are. Feel free to omit or reduce to your taste;

  • Potatoes – Any all-rounder or starchy potatoes work. AU: Sebago, US: russet, UK: King Edward or Maris Piper. Waxy potatoes will work ok too for this recipe;

  • Onion – These add great sweet, savoury flavour to the fritters so I really do recommend keeping onions in;

  • Cauliflower – When finely chopped as called for in this recipe, it adds lovely texture to fritters as well as acting like a sponge that absorbs the spices in the pakora batter; and

  • Coriander/cilantro – For a nice hint of freshness and colour in the pakoras. However, in this recipe it is not a key flavour so it can be omitted or substituted with finely chopped green onions, parsley or chives.

Other vegetables to use for Pakoras

A nice thing about Pakoras are their versatility. While I’ve used cauliflower, potato and onion, you can use other vegetables, as long as they’re finely chopped or grated. Use 6 cups in total:

  • Carrots – finely julienned or grated

  • Broccoli, broccolini – chop finely into rice size

  • Green beans, asparagus – finely spice or julienne

  • Zucchini – grate and squeeze out excess liquid

  • Spinach, cabbage and similar – julienne then grab handfuls and squeeze out excess liquid

  • Capsicum / bell peppers – finely slice into 2.5cm (1″) pieces

  • Parsnip, celeriac and other root vegetables – grate like potato

  • Peas and corn kernels – use as-is

  • Not recommended (or requires extra prep steps): eggplant, pumpkin, celery, fennel, cucumber, tomatoes


How to make Pakoras

Part 1: Preparing the vegetables

How to make Pakora
  1. Vegetables for pakoras are typically either finely chopped, grated or julienned so they are suitable to form into little patties and cook quickly. I always ensure that there’s at least one vegetable grated or julienned so you get scraggly bits that stick out that become extra crispy!

    Here’s how I prepared the fresh vegetables in these pakoras:

    – Ginger: Finely minced using a microplane (best for maximum flavour extraction!)
    – Cauliflower: Finely chopped into rice size pieces, as though preparing to make Cauliflower Rice (which, actually, is a good tip if you want to get ready made – just buy raw cauliflower rice). You can also grate it using a standard box grater – use a large bowl so the cauliflower bits don’t go everywhere – or a food processor!
    – Potato – grated using a box grater; and
    – Onion – grated using a box grater. Yes, the onion juice squirting out will be torture and will make you cry (unless, like me, you’re protected with contact lenses). But it’s worth it, I promise!


Part 2: Pakora batter and frying

While pakoras are best made by deep frying so you get the signature scraggly sticking out bits that become extra crunchy, you can cook them like pan fried fritters (like Zucchini Fritters, Corn Fritters etc) if you prefer not to deep fry.

How to make Pakoras
  1. Batter – Make the batter by mixing together the chickpea flour and dried spices with water. At this stage, the batter will seem very thick and paste like but don’t worry. It actually thins out once the vegetables are added because the salt in the batter extracts water from the vegetables;

  2. Add vegetables – Stir through the fresh vegetables;

  3. Finished batter – The batter should be quite thick, thick enough to drop balls/mounds into oil. If It seems too thin, add extra chickpea flour;

  4. Form rough patties – Drop 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of batter roughly formed into a patty shape (~ 1.5cm / 0.6″ thick) into the oil. I use my hands (as is typical in India!) but you can also use 2 dessertspoons. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but I feel it’s safer to use my hands because I have more control and there is less risk of the batter accidentally dropping into the oil from a height that causes splash age.

    Don’t crowd the pot! It will lower the temperature too much. I generally cook 4 at a time at the beginning to get into the groove of things, then I up it to 6 at a time;

  5. Fry 2 – 3 minutes until golden – Fry the pakoras for 2 to 3 minutes until they are deep golden and crispy on the outside. They will easily cook through in this time;

  6. Drain on paper towels then continue cooking. Keep cooked pakoras warm in a low oven (80°C/175°F) on a rack set over a tray.

Tray of freshly cooked Pakora

Sauces for Pakora

Pakoras are typically served with a sauce which is fresh and/or cooling which is a nice

Then serve with dipping sauce of choice! I’ve got 2 to choose from today:

  1. Green Coriander Mint Lime Sauce: Fresh and zesty; or

  2. Minted Yogurt Sauce: Cooling and fresh.

You can’t go wrong with either of these, they both work very well with Pakoras! I really just comes down to personal preference.

Coriander Mint Sauce for Pakora
Green Coriander Mint Lime Sauce for Pakoras
Dipping Pakora in Yogurt Mint Sauce
Mint Yogurt Sauce for Pakoras

When and what to serve with Pakoras

Pakoras are a standard starter you’ll find on the menu of every Indian restaurant here in Australia. So make these as the appetiser for a homemade Indian feast – browse all Indian recipe here!

In India, it’s a common street snack sold by street vendors. In this vein, Pakoras would make a great option to pass around as a canapé. Perfect finger food size, and something a little different! Cook up a big batch then just pop them in the oven to crisp up just before serving. Fabulous! – Nagi x

PS This recipe makes a lot. Around 40 pakoras. I figure if we’re going to make them, let’s make it worth our while. Plus, they reheat terrifically in the oven, freeze well and once you have one, you’ll be glad you have a secret stash


Watch how to make it

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Fresh cooked Pakora with Coriander Mint dipping sauce

Pakora (Indian Vegetable Fritters)

Servings40

Tap or hover to scale

Recipe video above. Vegetable fritters can be so bland….but not the Indian way! Pakoras are a traditional Indian street food made with all sorts of vegetables. I’ve used onion, potato and caulifloiwer, but see Note 5 for other options. Serve as starter for an Indian menu, light meal or pass around as canapes!Spiciness: Mild. Large chillies are not that spicy, and we are using 2 across lots of pakoras! Feel free to omit/reduce the fresh chilli and chilli powder.No deep fry method – See Note 7 for pan fried version.

Ingredients

Coriander Mint Sauce for Pakoras (Option 1):

Minted Yogurt Sauce (Option 2):

Instructions

  • Make batter: Place chickpea flour in a bowl with the spices (turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, chilli). Slow whisk in the water.

  • Mix in Vegetables: Add potato, cauliflower, onion, ginger, chilli and coriander. Mix well with a wooden spoon. It should be a thick batter, almost paste-like.

  • Preheat oven to 80°C/175°F – to keep cooked pakoras warm. Set a rack over a tray.

  • Heat oil: Heat 4cm / 1.5″ oil in a large heavy based pot to 180°C/350°F (Note X).

  • Form patties: Drop 2 tbsp of batter roughly formed into a patty shape into the oil. I use my hands (as is typical in India!) but you can also use 2 tablespoons (be careful of splash-age). Don’t crowd the pot, it will lower the temperature too much.

  • Fry pakoras: Fry 2 – 3 minutes until golden. Drain on paper towels. Keep cooked pakoras hot in the oven on a rack set over a tray.

  • Serve: Serve pakoras with Coriander Mint Sauce or Minted Yogurt Sauce!

Coriander Mint Sauce OR Mint Yogurt Sauce:

Recipe Notes:

Batch size – This makes quite a large batch. Around 40 pakoras! Figure we may as well make it worth our while. Leftovers resurrect well – see Storage note below.


1. Chickpea flour – Also known as gram flour, and besan, made from dried chickpeas. Staple in Indian cooking. Nowadays sold at large grocery stores in Australia.
2. Fenugreek powder – Staple Indian spice, kind of smells like maple syrup. Available at stores that carry a decent range of spices. I found it at Harris Farms (Australia). Also, of course, at Indian grocery stores!
Best sub: Garam Masala or a generic curry powder. (No it’s not the same but the extra flavour will compensate).
3. Chilli Powder – This is pure ground chillies, not to be confused with US Chili Powder which is a spice mix. Sub cayenne pepper. Fee free to reduce chilli powder if you’re concerned about spiciness. You can cook a test one, taste, then add more chilli into the batter.
4. Potatoes – Any all rounder or starchy potatoes work best. Aus: Sebago, US: russet, UK: King Edward/Maris Piper. Waxy potatoes will work ok too.
5. Other Veg: Use 6 cups in total.

  • Carrots – finely julienned or grated
  • Broccoli, broccolini – chop finely into rice size
  • Green beans, asparagus – finely spice or julienne
  • Zucchini – grate and squeeze out excess liquid)
  • Spinach, cabbage and similar – julienne then grab handfuls and squeeze out excess liquid
  • Capsicum/bell peppers (finely slice into 2.5cm/1″ pieces)
  • Parsnip, celeriac and other root veg – grate like potato
  • Peas and corn – use whole
  • Not recommended (or requires extra prep steps) – eggplant, pumpkin, celery, fennel, cucumber, tomatoes

6. Oil hotness test if you don’t have a thermometer – drop bit of batter in, should start sizzling straight away.
7. No deep fry option – pan fried: Just dollop batter into a skillet with a enough oil to cover the base, and cook on medium high until golden on each side (about 4 minutes). Won’t be the same as traditional pakoras because you don’t get the crunchy scraggly bits, but all the flavour is there!
8. Storage – Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for 3 months in an airtight container. Reheat in a 180°C/350°F oven on a rack set over a tray for 12 to 15 minutes until hot and crispy.
9. Nutrition per Pakora, assuming 1/2 tsp oil is absorbed per Pakora. (Deep frying absorbs less oil than you think, as long as you properly drain on paper towels as it wicks excess oil away).

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 64cal (3%)Carbohydrates: 8g (3%)Protein: 2g (4%)Fat: 3g (5%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Trans Fat: 1gSodium: 155mg (7%)Potassium: 157mg (4%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 136IU (3%)Vitamin C: 7mg (8%)Calcium: 15mg (2%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

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Ah Dozer. When you eye off cheesy bread like that, there’s just no doubt that you’re my boy. (Especially when “that cheesy bread” is Croque Monsieur!)

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