Pakoras (chickpea battered fritters), sometimes known as the French fries of South Asia, are enjoyed throughout the year in households across the world – and never more so than in the month of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. Pakoras have a special place at the break fast table during this month as part of the iftar (or fast breaking meal) for traditional Pakistanis. In the episode above, Maria shares a recipe for pakoras handed down to her by her mother, who comes from a small town outside of Lahore in Pakistan. The recipe consists very simply of chickpea flour, water, chopped onions and chopped potatoes. Dollops of the batter are added by the spoonful to pre-heated oil in a deep frying pan to produce mouth-watering appetizers best enjoyed fresh and hot!
To make batter, combine 1 1/2 cups of chickpea flour (known in South Asian grocery stores as “basin”) with 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin and no more than 1 teaspoon of red pepper (to taste). To this mixture add at least 1 cup of water and stir. The batter should be a nice consistency – not too watery, not too thick. Then add 1 potato chopped into small pieces and 1/2 an onion chopped into small pieces.
In a frying pan, add enough oil (Maria prefers vegetable oil) to deep fry dollops of batter. Let the oil heat for a bit on a medium setting on the stove. Then with a ladle or spoon (Maria prefers using a tablespoon), spoon batter into the frying pan. The pakoras should cook for about 5 to 7 minutes or until they are a uniform golden brown. You may turn them over to ensure both sides have a chance to brown. Remove the pakoras from the oil when finished and allow to sit on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
Enjoy these treats with various chutneys (tamarind, chili, mango, etc) or sauces (kids love ketchup)!