Chow Town

Vegetable pakoras bring back memories of birthday celebrations

Vegetable Pakoras
Vegetable Pakoras Special to the Star

When I was a young girl, the most eagerly anticipated occasions in my family’s home were birthday celebrations. Birthdays were always rung in with ceremony, often with a high tea featuring a delicious mix of British and Indian pastries and finger foods.

Deep-fried vegetable pakoras served with cilantro or cilantro-mint chutney were a staple of those parties.

The dumplings are made with gram (garbanzo bean) flour, so they are high in protein and gluten-free. Enjoy them with tea, or as a quick, savory breakfast.

Vegetable Pakoras

Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 cups of gram (bean) flour, available in the Indian store Ambica

1 teaspoon of coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon of dried mango powder

Pinch of baking soda

Salt to taste

Cayenne pepper to taste

1 cup of water

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 medium to large potato, peeled and cubed into very small pieces

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into small pieces

1 chopped jalapeno

3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro

2 cups of vegetable oil (for frying)

Mix all of the dry ingredients. Add water and 2 tablespoons of oil to form a pancake-like batter. Add onions, potatoes, jalapeno and cilantro.

Heat the 2 cups of oil in a wok or a deep pan. When oil is hot, but not smoking, drop in a small spoonful of batter. If it floats to the top, the oil is ready for frying. Drop several spoonfuls of batter and fry on medium heat until they are golden brown. Drain and place on a paper towel to the side, to soak up any extra oil, and repeat with the rest of the batter.

Serve hot with a cilantro or cilantro mint chutney available at all Indian markets.

Jyoti Mukharji teaches Indian cooking classes in her Prairie Village home. In the past five years, more than 1,900 aspiring Indian chefs have come through her kitchen.