This is the second part of my post on homemade pakoras made using The Takeaway Secret (a great cookbook that anyway who loves takeaway food should buy!). The first post, on mixed vegetable pakora, is here.
I hesitated about the title of this post because I was a wee bit worried it sounded like I was using meat substitutes to make my pakora. I’ve probably mentioned on here before that Quorn and the likes are so not my cup of tea because I have a personal rule about not eating fake food or food pretending to be something it’s not. And if I want a veggie meal, I’d rather make something full of lovely veggies, beans, nuts or cheese rather than some fake soy product (I do eat tofu though, since I figure that anything people have been eating for centuries in China doesn’t count as a fake food).
Anyway, I used the chicken pakora batter recipe from The Takeaway Secret, with the actual chicken replaced by medium-sized florets of cauliflower and whole button mushrooms. Obviously it didn’t taste like chicken but it was really, really delicious (if you’re not a regular reader – I do eat meat but not too often, and I was a vegetarian for four and a half years, so I have lots of veggie recipes under my sleeve now).
The flour you use in both pakora recipes in gram or besan flour, made with ground chickpeas, and it’s a little difficult to get hold of – I eventually got some in a local ethnic grocers, only to find that Morrison’s had started selling it just that week, for a better price. For those without good independent shops nearby, try the kind of massive Tesco that has a big ethnic foods section if you have one close by. I guess you could try subbing with normal flour, but it won’t be the same as a proper takeaway pakora, as gram flour does have a really distinctive taste and texture.
I could’ve done with the pakora being just a smidge hotter, so have reflected that in the recipe below.
Vegetarian ‘chicken’ pakora (serves 1-2)
- about 1/4 of a large cauliflower, cut into medium-sized florets
- 1/4 of a 250g pack of button mushrooms (or pick the button ones out of a mixed pack, like me)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/4 tsp dried ginger (or use a small knob of fresh, grated)
- 2 tsp tomato purée
- juice of 1/4 lemon
- 125g gram/besan flour
- 1/4 tsp ground fenugreek (optional)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1-2 tsp chilli powder
- 120ml water
- Oil, to deep-fry
Heat the oil for deep-frying to a medium heat in a large saucepan, ensuring the oil is deep enough to comfortable cover the pakora when they’re in there.
Put the cauliflower florets and the button mushrooms into a large bowl and add the tomato purée, garlic, ground or fresh ginger, vegetable oil and lemon juice. Season well with salt.
In another bowl, combine all the rest of the ingredients except the water and oil for deep-frying. Mix in, then add the water gradually, to make a smooth batter that’s not too thick.
Add the cauliflower and mushrooms and coat well. Add the individual florets and mushrooms to the hot oil, cooking in a couple of batches, and fry for around 5-6 minutes (I tested one before removing the rest to make sure it was done).
Remove each piece with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on some kitchen roll before serving. Nice hot or cold later on with the pakora sauce in my last post. I also served with the mixed vegetable pakora (which you can see in the pictures as the darker, rounder pakoras), from the same post.