Monday, 8 October 2012

Indian Classics - Potato Pakoras (Potato Bhajias or Spiced Fritters)

Potato Bhajias/ Pakoras

Canadian Thanksgiving has just been, and what a lovely day we had. Mum-in-law and I made a few side dishes with produce from the garden (yep, potatoes) and we all headed down to Kathryn's for a lovely meal and we joked that it was certainly pleasant to cook and actually eat all the food ourselves. The turkey was excellent, super moist and all the sides complemented it so beautifully. We had some sparkling bubbly, with some excellent red with the dinner, and for dessert, some gorgeous cheeses that Lydia from Everything Cheese brought us, and a chocolate cake, and of course, a traditional pumpkin pie made by MIL (a very old family recipe that's coming soon on this blog, perhaps just in time for American Thanksgiving!)

I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. My family, my friends, my wonderful husband and child, my dream job with Kathryn, all the people I've met here in Edmonton, and who have become such a big part of my life. Thanksgiving is certainly special, and while we don't necessarily celebrate it a huge way, we certainly had a wonderful time surrounded by family and friends. I do miss my own family back in India, but even the distance is bridged with regular phone calls and Skype meetings.

Its certainly been a pleasant week on the whole. My in-laws arrived last week, and my child hasn't stopped bouncing since. We love having mum and dad with us, even if it forces me to give up my slobby ways and be more organised, for a change. We even have meals at regular mealtimes, wow, and that's a real change for me :)

Potato Bhajias/ Pakoras

But of course, that's not the point of this post, now... what's the point again? Ah yes. More potatoes. Just what you all wanted, right? Right? 

As I frantically try and use up all my millions of potatoes, I am pulling recipes from all over. We've had my MIL's scalloped potatoes as a staple food. We've had potato curries and masalas and hash browns. We're having potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner... and as a snack in between :) Which brings me to these potato bhajias or pakoras. This is a recipe from my mum, one that she uses to make cabbage pakoras (that recipe's coming soon) and I adapted it to suit my potatoes. 

There really isn't very much to this recipe, especially once you get the consistency of the batter right. The idea is to get to the same consistency as heavy cream, so that when you dip your spoon in it, the batter drips off heavily at the end. If you make your batter too thin, it won't coat the potatoes. Too thick, and the outside pakora coating won't be as crispy. So make sure you add the water bit by bit, and stop when you get to the texture you like. 
If you have a mandoline, the slicing of the potatoes takes next to no time at all. If not, slice them thinly, as uniformly as you can, as they then cook evenly in the oil. 

My mum always tested the oil by dropping a small blob of batter in it. If the batter rose quickly to the surface and was covered in bubbles, then the oil was the right temperature. I decided to be a little more scientific about it and take the guesswork out (or just crabby, I suppose) If you have a candy or oil thermometer then the oil needs to heat up to 375 F (if you don't have a thermometer, I very highly recommend you get one, the ease of making such deep fried dishes is immense, and they don't even cost a lot) Once the oil is at the right temperature, then you can slide in the coated potato slices, one at a time, and making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Essentially, when you overcrowd the pan, the temperature of the oil drops, and the pakoras won't cook as evenly. 

These pakoras are best eaten as soon as they cool down just a little, as hot as you can take them, basically... the fresher they are, the crisper they taste. However, if they do get cold, place them in a single layer on a baking tray, and you can reheat them quickly in a preheated 400 F oven for about 5  - 7 minutes, turning once, to get back some of the crispness. These pakoras can be served with any kind of chutney. My favourite is mint chutney, but they go well with a variety of them (check out some of my recipes here and here
 
Potato Bhajias/ Pakoras

For me, this is a taste that takes me straight back to India and to my university days. My friends and I used to hang around the dhabas (street eateries) all the time, and chow these down by the dozen, all dipped in spicy hot Maggi chilli sauce and ketchup. A hot cup of freshly made masala chai, and this is the perfect afternoon snack, especially now that the days are getting crisp and cold, and the leaves are all blowing away in the chilly wind.

Recipe: 

2 large potatoes, scrubbed, no need to peel
1 cup chickpea flour (gram flour) 
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon hot chilli powder
½ inch piece of ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 green chilly, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Sparkling water (or plain water) around ¾ cup
Enough oil to deep fry, I use canola or vegetable 

Method:  

Slice the potatoes thinly as you can or around ¼ mm if you have a mandoline. Rinse the slices, if you wish, and dry with paper towels.

Sift together the chickpea flour, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, baking soda, whole cumin seeds and chilli powder. 

Stir in the grated ginger, crushed garlic and green chillies. 

Slowly add enough water to make a thick batter, the consistency of heavy cream. I used roughly ¾ cup, but it depends on how dry your climate is, so adjust the water accordingly.

Add salt to taste (I use about ¾ teaspoon) 

Heat the oil in a deep pot to 375 F. Coat the potato slices in the batter and gently slide into the hot oil, three, four slices at a time, depending on the size of your frying pot. Don't overcrowd the pan, or the pakoras won't fry evenly.

Deep fry, turning often, for 4 - 5 minutes, until the pakoras/ bhajias are a deep golden brown. Gently lift from the oil, using a slotted spoon, and drain on kitchen paper. 

Serve hot with chutneys or ketchup.   

Potato Bhajias/ Pakoras


16 comments:

  1. Classic indeed!! I just cant get enough of these!!looks so very crispy & tempting...
    Prathima Rao
    Prats corner

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    1. They were so good Prats. I love that combination of spicy, crispy and soft.

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  2. Yum! Printed and on the menu for this week!

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    1. Awesome, let me know how it goes, Julie :)

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  3. Oh yes! the favorite 'monsoon snack'! and of course it tastes best with a cup of 'cutting chai'!
    I remember this one street vendor who sold 'Bhaji-paav' with the dry garlic chutney, awesome x 10! He would stuff a vatiety ofbhajis in the bun, onion, potato, spinach and round it off with a generous sprinkling of spicy chutney!
    Ur post has ne craving these :)

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  4. Love these aloo pakoras..my mom would make them for us...mostly in Ramadan. I've haven't gotten the consistency of the batter down but thanks for your tip! I will be sure to use it next time I made any sort of pakoras!

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  5. Sigh... I wish you lived next door. I'm craving pakoras now.

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  6. Goodness! That is a lot of potato dishes! These pakoras look great..their crispness shines through in the pictures.

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  7. Oh, delicious as ever. Mint chutney sounds great but maybe a little chilli sauce on a few of them for me as well.

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  8. This look brilliant. Great recipe, thanks for sharing

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  9. oh wow those look so so good. And I really appreciate you adding the temperature of oil.. I'm always nervous deep frying stuff

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  10. It looks so yummy and good to have it in the tea time. I will try this recipe today itself and serve my kids, hope they will enjoy it as snacks.

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  11. Of course this is my favorite when I was in the my hostel. One girl came from India and she makes this some day and seriously taste of pakoras much better than a burger.

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  12. This is similar to pan cakes. It can be served as a snack during tea time.

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