Afghanistan—Pakora Vegetable Fritters

 

Afghan Appetizerafghan vegetable fritters

Vegetable Fritters
Pakora
(Makes 8-18 pieces)

These yummy fritters traditionally use cauliflower or potatoes. But any vege-table works well.


1 1/2 C besan * (see sidebar)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 C water (more or less)
Assorted vegetables: cauliflower, potato, eggplant, carrots, onions, spicy peppers
4-6 C vegetable oil for frying

Batter: combine first 5 dry ingredients; then add water, beating vigorously. Or use a blender. Add as much water as you need to get the consistency of pancake batter. Let batter rest for 30 minutes.

Vegetables: slice vegetables in 1/4" rounds, or thinly so they will cook easily. 

Deep Fry: in a wok or deep skillet, heat oil to 350. Dip vegetables into batter and deep fry in batches, 2 minutes, flip, then 2 minutes more, till they become golden brown. Drain on towels. Some cooks recommend “par-frying: deep fry till just golden, cool to room temperature, then deep fry a second time. This gives a crispier crust.

You can make the pakora in advance. After the first deep-fry, store them in the refrigerator, or freeze them, then deep-fry the second time before serving.

* If you can't find besan, use regular flour.

| See more Afghan recipes |

Tips & Glossary

Afghan food is similar to the Middle East's and India's, using use many of the same spices. But Afghan cuisine is milder and lighter than its Indian cousin.

Many of the ingredients used in Afghan dishes probably aren’t in your spice shelf, but you'll find them at Asian or Mid-Eastern shops.

Deep Frying: be sure oil is hot; otherwise food will be soggy and greasy. Use a deep-fry thermometer to achieve the called-for temperature. When cool, oil can be strained, refrigerated, and re-used.

Basmati Rice: literally “Queen of fragrance." This rice, cultivated in India, is known for its delicate flavor and fragrance. 

Besan: also known as “gram flour,” made of ground chana dal, like chickpeas, only smaller and lighter in color. 

Cardamom: related to the ginger family. Pods (green, brown, or black) are the best way to store cardamom. But high-quality ground is also available. A rule of thumb: 10 pods = 1 1/2 tsp. ground.

Coriander: aka cilantro, Chinese, or Mexican parsley. Both fresh leaves and dried ground seeds are used in Afghan, Mid-East, Asian, Indian, and Mexican cuisines.

Garam Masala: literally, “hot spice,” usually a mixture of cinnamon, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, and green cardamom seed or black cardamom pods. Because it loses its flavor quickly try to buy it with whole spices and grind it when you need it.

Ghee: clarified butter. Melt 1 lb. unsalted butter over low heat for 20 minutes (careful not to burn), remove from heat and skim away solids. Strain through cheesecloth into a separate container and keep…forever. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated. If you buy commercial ghee, make sure it comes from real butter, not hydrogenated oils.

Rosewater: distilled from rose petals and used to flavor Mid-Eastern and Asian cooking. You can make your own—but why? Buy it.

Turmeric: a deep yellow ground spice, member of the ginger family, used in curries. It has a marvelous earthy, peppery flavor.

 

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