A pakora is a fried snack which originated in India and now, is found all over South Asia. The base of the pakora batter is chickpea flour also called as gram flour or besan. Pakora’s can be made with many things like onion, plantain, eggplant, paneer, spinach, etc. The most popular being the paneer (Indian cottage cheese) pakora, pyaz (onion) pakora and the palak (spinach) pakora.
The pakora, in South India has a different name and it’s called the Bhajji/ Bajji.
The paneer pakora which is fried to perfection, is dusted with chat masala for a tangy kick and immediately eaten. I don’t think anyone can resist thesedeep fried goodies. 😉 These are so simple to make and yet pack a punch. I remember having them in Bhuvaneshwar, Orissa when I had gone for a trip with my family. It was late in the evening and this shop was selling huge quantities of these delicious paneer pakora’s. Orissa produces a lot of dairy products which means more paneer. 😀
Ingredients: (Makes 16 big pieces)
- Firm Paneer- 400 grams (I use two 200g packets)
- Oil- for frying
- Chickpea/ gram flour (besan)- 1 and 1/2 cups
- Rice flour- 3 tablespoons
- Red chilli powder- 2 and half teaspoons (You can add more if you like it very spicy)
- Water- 3/4 cup
- Baking soda- a pinch
- Asafoetida powder/ Hing- 1/2 teaspoon (I would not omit this ingredient because it adds a nice flavour)
- Salt- to taste
- Shredded carrot
- Onion- 1/2; thinly sliced
- Chat masala powder- according to your preference
- Lime cheek/ wedges – 2
- Coriander leaves- for garnish; (optional)
For The Batter–
- Empty the chickpea flour into a big bowl.
- To it, add the rice flour.
- Add the chilli powder, asafoetida, a pinch of baking soda and salt to taste. Mix well (Tip– The batter should taste a little less salty than your preference because on frying, the saltiness will be more prominent. Chat masala also contains salt, so season carefully.)
- Pour the water little by little into the mixture and combine thoroughly. The point of adding the water little at a time is to make sure there are no lumps and also so that you can check the consistency. The batter should be quite thick and should drop as a thin streak from the spoon.
Slice the paneer into thick blocks. (I cut each 200g block into 8 pieces). Heat oil in a skillet/ kadai. A good way to check if your oil is hot enough is to add a very small drop of the batter. If it sizzles and rises to the top, your oil is at the proper temperature.
Dip the paneer pieces into the batter, making sure the excess drips off and immediately add to your oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. (About 4 pieces a batch is ideal). Fry until deep golden brown and drain well on kitchen paper to soak the excess oil. While still hot, sprinkle chat masala over it.
Place the pakora’s on the serving plate, decorate with tomato roses, lime cheeks/wedges, grated carrot, sliced onions and coriander leaves. Cut the pakora’s in half with a knife, sprinkle some more chat masala and if you like, squeeze a little lime juice, place shredded carrot and onion over it. 🙂