Recipes | Seasonal Veg Pakora

Recipes

Seasonal Veg Pakora

With the new season's spring veg springing up in the garden and coming into the shops it's the perfect moment to make these delicious Seasonal Veg Pakora from Grace Regan's appetising new book, Spicebox.

"On almost every city street in India, you’ll find a food vendor tending to giant karahi of floating pakoras in bubbling oil" says Grace, who runs the Spicebox curry house in Walthamstow. "The battered veg varies depending on what’s in season but soft, faster-cooking vegetables are preferable, such as onion, aubergine and spinach."

Below she's listed seasonal veg and combinations that work well. "The harder the vegetable, the smaller you have to cut it. For root vegetables, grating works best." (There are some useful tips on cooking veg in the book which includes 100 spicy curry house recipes.)

"Traditionally, just gram flour is used but Grace finds that adding rice flour and baking powder makes for a crisper batter at home."

Serves 4–6 as a starter/side

For the batter

Veg oil, for frying, around 1 litre

100g gram flour

50g rice flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

2 tsp ajwain seeds (also called lovage or carom seeds; swap for fennel or nigella (black onion) seeds if you can’t find them)

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp tsp ground turmeric

A thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated

1 green chilli, thinly sliced

A small bunch of coriander (stalks included), finely chopped

2 tsp garam masala

Salt

Put the gram and rice flours into a bowl, along with the baking powder and the rest of the batter ingredients. Slowly pour in 500ml water and whisk until a batter is formed – you’re looking for the consistency of a thin pancake batter.

Pour the oil into a large saucepan or wok – it needs to be 5–7cm deep – and place on a high heat.

Test the oil to make sure it is the right temperature by dropping a piece of batter into it. It should fizzle and turn golden in around 30 seconds. If you have a thermometer to hand, the oil should be 180°C.

Drop a small handful of your chosen veg (see below) into the batter and make sure it’s evenly coated. Allow any excess batter to drip off, then gently drop the veg into the oil. Fry until golden on one side and then turn over, using a slotted spoon (they will take around 1 minute 20 seconds on each side).

When the pakora is golden on both sides, lift it out of the oil and drain it on a piece of kitchen paper. Season with a generous pinch of salt on both sides. Repeat until all your veg are cooked. You can cook two or three pieces at the same time, depending on the size of your pan and the veg.

Grace recommends these with date and tamarind Chutney or green (mint and coriander) chutney, recipes for both of which are in the book.


Spring/summer veg

Broccoli, thinly sliced

Sprouting broccoli

Spinach, roughly shredded or whole leaves

Watercress, roughly shredded or whole leaves

Asparagus

Aubergine, thinly sliced

Peppers, thinly sliced

Fennel, thinly sliced

Runner beans

Samphire

Sorrel

Chard

New potatoes, boiled and sliced

Spring/summer veg combos

Fennel and spinach

Sorrel and onion

Broccoli and watercress

Chard and red pepper

New potato and watercress

New potato and sorrel

 

Autumn/winter veg

Cabbage, finely shredded

Brussels sprouts, finely shredded

Beetroot, grated raw, or cooked and sliced

Carrot, grated raw

Celeriac, grated raw

Butternut squash, roasted and sliced

Potatoes, boiled and sliced

Sweet potato, roasted and sliced

Cauliflower, cut into thin steaks

Kale, finely shredded

Leeks, thinly sliced

Onion, thinly sliced

Parsnips, grated raw, or roasted and sliced

Autumn/winter veg combos

Grated apple and beetroot

Grated pear and celeriac

Sweet potato and sliced spring onion

Kale and potato

Brussels sprout and beetroot

Cauliflower and leek

What to drink: Lots of possibilities here - a crisp dry Italian white like Falanghina, a fresh Provençal rosé, a dry riesling, a sylvanier, dry cider, a pilsner, a lemon or mango flavoured soda ...

Extracted from SpiceBox: 100 Fresh, Vegan Curry House Favourites by Grace Regan (Ebury Press £20). Photography by Joff Lee and James Lee

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