Pakora (pronounced pak-korra with a rolled ‘r’) is an Indian dish consisting of fried pieces of vegetable, meat or fish in a crispy jacket made of chickpea flour. Pakoras are generally eaten warm with a cup of tea, often with a dipping sauce of tomato or green chutney.
There are many kinds of pakoras available, both in India and beyond. Palak pakora, for example, is made with spinach, while other fillings include onion, cabbage, tomatoes or peppers. For the non-vegetarian, there are also variants made from meat, fish, or even shrimp. There is even the occasional surprise, such as pakoras with paneer (fresh cheese) or slices of egg. In fact, pretty much anything can be fried in chickpea batter.
Did you know...?
In India, pakoras are usually eaten in winter or during the rainy season. During Ramadan, people like to break the daily fast with a pakora or samosa and the dish is popular both in the north and the south. In the south, the dish is called bhaji and, unlike pakora, it is often made without spices.
East vs west
In India, people prefer to eat pakoras for breakfast or as a snack, but in the UK they are generally served as an appetiser.
A mixture of chickpea flour, rice flour, coriander powder, cumin seeds, salt, and sometimes coriander leaf is stirred with water to make a batter. Then, finely chopped vegetables, pieces of fish or meat are dipped in the batter until they are fully covered. The pakora is then fried in oil at medium heat until it is a deep golden brown. It is important that the oil is at the right temperature: Too low and the pakoras become greasy, too high and they are brown on the outside before the inside is cooked. Pakoras are usually served with chutney or sprinkled with chaat masala spice mix.
Pakoras look very much like Japanese tempura, though the Japanese variant is made with a lighter batter.