Tonight I made pakora with cold strands of spaghetti squash and slivers of spring onion, in a batter made with Hodmedod’s Fava Bean Flour— I added salt and chilli flakes and cardamom powder, and fried the fritters in coconut oil. Children and I still remembered the tasty Pumpkin Peasemeal Pakora I’d made in a flurry of you-don’t-need-a-real-recipe, and indeed you don’t. This time I just mixed the pulse flour with baking soda, salt, and slowly whisked in water, and then fragranced it with the warm spice I most easily found in an overcrowded cupboard in which no garam masala was to be found, or concocted. Then I dredged spoonfuls of the squash in the batter, and sauteed whereas perhaps I should have deep fried.
I say this because I hate frying, and I don’t feel I’m any good at it. So, delicious as some of the pakora were, or parts of each that managed to get properly browned in oil, even perfectly crispy, they looked unappealing and were inconsistent. (To be fair, wet squash is a more difficult
fish-to-fry vegetable than something, anything, dryer.)
So I’m determined to learn to fry pakora because they are so delicious.
PLEASE: all advice about frying is welcome. Anything you think readers and I should know that will help me/us to get good at treats like this. THANK YOU.
Do people know this marvellous collection of recipes, Yamuna Devi‘s 1987 Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking? It’s a labour of love, and a true gift as a document of the devotion of Yamuna Devi (nee Joan Campanella) to Swami Srila Prabhupada, with whom she travelled much through many regions of India, collecting vegetarian recipes from homes and temples, in the late 1960s and 70s:
“Sometimes I was able,” she writes, “to attend fairs or melas devoted to reading sacred texts and the chanting of sacred songs. Such festivals around the pastime of Lord Krishna are attended by millions of pilgrims and provide yet more opportunity to learn about the dietary habits and the roots of Lord Krisha’s cuisine [hence the book title] at its source.”
Hers is a book I read as much for pleasure and interest as refer to for recipes (though it’s our go to for all things dosa and chutney).
This winter’s culinary goal, I’ve decided, is to get over my lack of confidence, enjoyment and ability in frying pakora — a good task through the long darknesses of northern winters. And I am going to do that by working through the many enticing recipes for them in Lord Krishna’s Cuisine. I list them here because I reckon you too will get pleasure just imagining how very delicious each one will be:
- Zucchini Pakora with Crushed Peanuts
- Potato Pakora with Dried Pomegranate Seeds
- Bell Pepper Pakora with Nigella Seeds
- Eggplant Pakora with Poppy Seeds
- Spinach Pakora with Ajwain Seeds
- Panir Cheese Pakora
- Cauliflower Pakora
- Buckwheat Flour-Potato Fritters (ok,not pakora but I ❤ buckwheat flour)
- Green Tomato Pakora with Cornmeal (to be remembered when people enquire about green tomato recipes – might have to find a substitute if winter)
- Crispy-Fried Eggplant Slices
- Herbed Cornmeal Pakora
- Batter-Coated Mashed Potato Balls
- Chopped Spinach and Tomato Pakora
- The Great Shallow-Fried Vine Leaf Rissole
- Batter-Coated Stuffed Baby Tomatoes
The book is nearly 700 pages of recipes and lots of pages for reference and information. You get the idea. It’s spectacular. Leafing through, I’m just randomly noticing:
- Shredded Radish, Coconut and Carrot Salad
- Pear Chutney with Dates and Pecans
- Sweet Yogurt Ambrosia
- Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Coconut
- Spiced Creamed Spinach
and on and on and on, as beautifully and hypnotically as her singing in these songs of devotion (with fun photographic glimpses of Yoko Ono, George Harrison, and others):