A couple of days ago, I found myself in a rare moment. I was alone at home, it was pouring cats and dogs outside, and I had my favourite book in hand. The first thought that came to my mind? A cup of steaming hot coffee and some crispy pakodas would seal the deal right there! Monsoons, or the rainy season in India, is always greeted with open arms alongside copious amounts of chai and pakodas. For me though, tea has never been the caffeine of choice. I’m a java girl all through – so much so, that I’ve even converted the once tea-loving Hubby Dear who now swears that his morning can’t begin without a sip of coffee! But pakodas? I believe that rainy days and deep fried food can make any Indian swoon at the combination!
Pakodas come in all shapes and sizes and can be made with almost anything you can imagine – so let your mind run wild! Some of the classic ones include dunking bite-sized veggies like potatoes, cauliflower, chilli peppers, onions and eggplant into a thick batter of chickpea flour and spices. Another street vendor favourite is the stuffed bread pakoda that’s made by coating a spiced mashed potato sandwich in the batter before deep frying. I’ve even once, a long time ago, tried some chicken pokodas – the meat was deliciously tender and delicately seasoned.
Since the past few years, we have an unwritten but understood rule in the kitchen – no deep fried foods except for very, very special occasions. Like Puris on Diwali. Or Gobi Manchurian on Hubby Dear’s b’day week. And pakodas, when I just can’t stop thinking about them! We love pakodas of any kind, but are definitely much more partial to the ones with spinach and onions. These babies are best enjoyed piping hot dunked into some spicy chutney, or just good ol’ tomato ketchup.
PALAK PAKODAS (SPINACH FRITTERS)
Prep time: 10 min | Cooking time: 15 min | Serves: 6
2 cups finely chopped fresh spinach
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp chaat masala
salt, to taste
1 cup chickpea flour
water, as needed
oil, for deep frying
Mix everything except the water and oil in a large bowl until well incorporated. Slowly add in water to form a thick, pancake-like batter.
Heat enough oil in a deep wok for deep frying. Gently add in a tablespoon of the batter to make the fritters. Try and not crowd the wok by adding too many at a time.
Deep fry for 6-8 minutes on medium heat, turning them to ensure that they brown and cook on all sides. Once the fritters are golden brown and crisp, remove them on paper towels to soak up any excess oil. Serve hot with coffee or tea!