Friday, April 1, 2011

The No Crunch Bunch. Pakoras: Baked Not Fried!

   As Alan likes to say, "The road to hell is paved with crunch." Crunch is tasty. Crunch is succulent. Crunch makes one's eyeballs pinball with delight. Unfortunately, a lot of the time (when it comes to frying) crunch is not very good for you. So what to do? What to do when the craving for ones' favorite fried treats comes around? Break out the Fry Baby, or in  my case the kadhai, and have at it??
   Well I already had my go-to-hell pants on earlier in the week when I fried up a batch of vadai for my birthday party. And since I'm not about to buy a larger size go-to-hell pants any time soon, I thought I'd better ratchet back the sizzling oil in the name of common sense. But, I really wanted pakoras. Really. I don't know why they popped into my head all of a sudden, but once they were there I was their slave. Something in my house was going to get pakora'ed and damn fast.
   I'd gotten a cauliflower at the farmers' market and had been planning on cooking it last Saturday night, but changed my mind at the last minute. There it was, sitting all by its' lonesome in my fridge. Aha! I thought, perfect for pakoras. I'd also picked up some mushrooms on sale. Great! I thought, I'll toss those in too. So I did.
   The idea of making pakoras baked not fried is really pretty straightforward. Make the pakora batter, dip the pakorees (whatever vegetables you desire) in said batter and then pop everything in the oven for a few minutes. You will be enjoying pakoras in less than 30 minutes. Honest.

Baked Pakoras

Here's what to do:
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees
 Break a head of cauliflower into separate florets
I used sliced mushrooms because I had orginaly intended to make something else with them before pakora fever hit me. If I were doing it over again, I'd surely use whole mushrooms, but sliced was what I had so sliced was what I used.
 Set these vegetables aside and make the pakora batter.
 In a large bowl mix together:
  1 cup of chickpea (besan) flour
  1 tsp of salt
  1/2 tsp of coriander
  1/2 tsp of turmeric
  1/2 tsp of chili powder (I used Kashmiri chili)
  1/2 tsp of garam masala
 Mix in anywhere from 3/4 of a cup to 1 cup of water
The batter should be about as thick as pancake batter. It should stick to the vegetable pieces.
   Now, it's pakora making time.
 Oil or grease a cookie sheet
 Dip the vegetable pieces into the batter one at a time and place them onto the  greased cookie sheet.
Bake them for 8 minutes on one side, then turn them and bake them on the other side for another 10 minutes.
   Bingo! You are in the pakora business.
   Now, you may wonder, how do these little baked pakoras stack up to the Real Deal Fried Stuff????
   Well...... if you haven't eaten a big plate of fried vadai, a butt-load of samosas, a lot of momo, two large slices of Princess cake, hit Morimotos and made a pit stop at iHop in the last couple of days, then go ahead and fry away. However if you have (and yes, I will cop to all of this) then you might want to consider your oven and give the deep fat fryer a little time out.
  In this case I would definitely recommend this as a quick cure for the pakora Jones if it should strike. After all, the batter is the same no matter how they're being cooked. Add a bit of yogurt mint raita for dipping and enjoy pakoras without guilt.
   Because if the road to hell is paved with crunch, it's perfectly okay to take a detour once in a while. Coming up fun with Samosas follow along on Twitter @kathygori.


  1. I'm in awe. I didn't know it was even possible. I'm totally making this tomorrow (or Sunday at the latest).

    You just made my weekend!

    I can't stand deep-frying at home. The last time I tried, my apartment smelled like felafel for three days.

  2. @Dan,
    Thanks so much, these don't crunch like the real deal but the batter is the same so there's that, and your apartment won't smell for days. Your arteries will thank

  3. I adore pakoras!! A healthier alternative, eh?

  4. Ok I think this would go well with my piggy products. If I eat pork with baked pakoras it will be ok, right?

  5. I need to really experiment this really is intriguing to me.....

  6. Have never tried besan flour and baking; samosa's come out well... bookmarked.

  7. Baked Pakoras? Who would have ever thought! These look absolutely delicious!

  8. Pakoras are my favorite appetizer to get when dining out! Thanks for making them a little healthier, my pants thank you too :)

  9. I am so excited to try these. I've been obsessed with besan flour lately (socca everything). Great idea!

  10. If you add some regular rice flour (not the glutinous kind) to the chick pea flour, the pakoras will bake pretty crisp.

  11. Ha ha! You crack me up!! I love the way you write :) I found your site as I googled how to do this guilt free as pakora fever had taken over me too - Love it!

    1. I know. love pakora, did you see the comment above about rice flour?

  12. definitely trying the rice flour next time!!! Thanks

  13. I did indeed and shall be trying those next time. Wow hubby and l have just indulged in baked pakoras and they were first rate!! Great for our boys too - thanks Kathy :)



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