24 March, 2014
Lentil and Onion Pakora
It snowed again. The big flakes came down fast, as if a paper shredder had been emptied. We were spoilt with a bit of good weather for the last few days and got carried away. We opened the windows and let the fresh air in after four months. Severed relationship altogether with the heavy parka. Felt the steering wheel with bare hands. Why even the Calendar announced the first day of spring! Oh well, we know better than that in the prairies. April will bring more snow. May hasn’t been out of bounds for snow either for some years. To go with this cold weather I made these crispy onion Pakoras.
I read with interest about the ” Lentil Recipe Revelation Challenge“. My blogger friend from ” Keep calm and eat on“ invited us to join it. Coming from a similar background in India, where lentils are part of our diet 24/7/365, I couldn’t let this go by me unchallenged. In fact not too long back I wrote about a lentil soup here . This is my entry for ” Best in the appetizer ” category. It was lot of fun. There still is time in case you want to be part of this project.
Pakoras are usually made from Besan or gram flour. Sometimes rice flour is added. I have substituted red lentil paste in place of the rice flour to give the pakoras more colour and crispiness. Just what you want with this weather!
People often shy away from Indian Cooking because the ingredients list runs for a page and a half. I am on a mission here. For this challenge I have made a point to use the minimum number of ingredients. Try this recipe and you will be surprised with the results. I have put the difficulty rating for this recipe as “child’s play”. The other two being “knew I could do that” and “evil’.
If you are lucky enough to be enjoying a beautiful warm spring day, even better. Maybe you have planned an afternoon with family and friends barbecuing. The freshly cut green grass tickling your bare feet, children on the trampoline and Fido catching his breath with his tongue hanging out. The noise of the neighbour’s lawnmower in the background. You bring out a batch of these freshly fried pakoras. Friends do you feel your fingers are ready to grab one, like the ones we see in the picture?
Have I been able to entice you with the story? In the virtual world of “Challenges”, for these pakoras to see the light of the day, I need your help. Please leave a comment below, telling me your thoughts. If you’ve tried them already, were they yummy?
Onion One medium, finely chopped
Gram Flour ( Besan ) One cup
Red Lentils Half cup
Cilantro Roughly chopped , Half cup
Baking Soda Half tsp
Salt One and half tsp, and another tsp to sprinkle.
Chilli powder One quarter tsp ( optional )
Asafoetida ( hing ) Small pinch ( optional )
Canola oil For deep frying
Wash and soak the red lentils for couple of hours. Grind it in a paste with very little water.
In a bowl mix the Gram flour and baking soda. Add all the other ingredients, next. The mixture should be thick, but pliable. I did not have to add extra water. The water that I added to grind the lentils was sufficient. If you feel add very little water.
Heat canola oil in a wok on high heat. I took a big wok and filled it with oil, two inches deep. Put a little bit of the batter to check if the oil is ready. The batter should rise up to the surface right away. Turn the gas to medium now. With your finger take about “loonie” size batter and carefully dip in the oil. Do not overcrowd, about six or seven in a batch will do. The batter need not be formed into a round ball. The little unevenness actually makes the onion pakora more appealing. Turn the gas lower now, between medium and low. The pakora has to cook even. If the gas is on high, it will only cook on the outside, the inside remaining uncooked. When the colour changes to golden brown, remove them on paper towels. Sprinkle a little more salt on them now.
Serve them with Tomato ketchup and/or mustard sauce. This is what my family prefers. Any sauce can be used.
In a snowy day I’d serve them with a hot cup of tea. This is such a versatile dish, you can enjoy it as much on a hot summer day too. I’d probably then change the drink to a cold one….
Gram flour or Besan is available in the World food section in Superstore.
Asafoetida or Hing is available in Indian grocery store.