Everyone likes fried food. And all of us have our variations of batter-fried vegetables. Sometimes, even fruit. Sometime back, Melissa wrote in praise of pakoras on her blog. And I have been wanting to blog about these pakoras since.
I am not sure how many of you have made cabbage pakoras but these are amongst my favourite, second only to pyaaz bhajjies (onion pakoras).
Spicy Onion Rings at the K State Union cafeteria would hit the spot whenever I was homesick for pakoras, and definitely not in the mood for a sugar-kick. I have a very sweet tooth, but it was salt I really missed as a Grad student in the US. Giant muffins, mammoth cookies everywhere, but only fries to satiate the salt cravings. Like most Indians, I prefer a spicy savory snack with the mid-morning or evening cuppa. The sweet may follow; but first, the salt and the spice. It is to this hall of fame that the now well-known samosa also belongs.
Growing up, I never had cabbage in a pakora. My mum was quite innovative with the vegetables she batter fried – eggplant, tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach leaves, in additional to the usual suspects – potatoes and onions. And then one day I saw my MIL shred some cabbage leaves, throw them into the spiced besan batter along with a spoonful of sesame seeds and some left-over rice as well, to make the most delicious of pakoras. These would invariably accompany an elaborate traditional meal showcasing pooran-poli, the delicious stuffed sweet rotis, that are a Maharashtrian delicacy.
I continue the tradition and always make these pakoras whenever I serve pooran-poli. For these occasions, naturally, the left-over rice is omitted. Food for festive occasions is always made only with fresh ingredients.
These pakoras stay surprisingly crisp even after they cool. I think it is the soda-bi-carb and the hot oil added to the batter that has something to do with this. Probably, also the reason these absorb more oil than the regular pakoras. But if you are having pooran-poli smothered with ghee, where is the point in worrying about a few more teaspoons of oil!
Besides, it’s Holiday season. If you are still searching for the perfect finger-food to take to the party tonight, this is your answer. Quick to make with ingredients you already have in the pantry.
BTW, there is no point to New Year resolutions till after Jan 2 (if there is any point to them at all!), so make these tonight or, at the very latest, tomorrow!
2 C cabbage, shredded
1-2 green chillies, chopped fine
1 T sesame seeds (optional)
1 C left-over steamed rice, grains separated (optional)
½ t turmeric
½ t cayenne (red chilli) powder
1 ½ C (or so) besan (chickpea flour)
a pinch of baking soda
vegetable oil for frying
Using a little water make a thick batter with the besan, salt and the spices. Mix well to remove lumps. Add the sesame seeds, left-over rice, if using, the green chillies and the shredded cabbage. Heat oil in a karahi or wok. The oil should be very hot for frying pakoras. Test with a drop of batter; it should sizzle. Add the pinch of baking soda and a teaspoon of hot oil from the karahi to the batter and mix well. Drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil and fry till golden all around. Serve hot with ketchup, or accompanied by the traditional Maharashtrian coconut chutney.
2 C grated fresh coconut
a bunch of coriander, chopped
5 hot, green chillies
2 T of sour (unripe) mango flesh (I preserve mine layered with salt for year-round use)
salt (if not using mangoes preserved as above)
Grind everything in the jar of your grinder with a half-cup of water and serve with the above pakoras. This is also the best accompaniment for batata wadas.