Indian food is all about the – not-so-optional – extras. A curry isn’t as it should be without a hastily torn handful of flatbread, a refreshing salsa or a dollop of homemade mango chutney. Even better, why not create something a little more complex, such as a bowl full of crispy onion bhajis, or – yes, you guessed it – vibrantly-coloured Spinach Pakoras. These are the additions that truly make a dish into a meal.
Similar, in a way, to my recipe for spinach fritters, this recipe for spinach pakoras is packed full of fragrant whole and freshly-ground spices. The difference is clear, however, with the spinach quickly wilted and then deep-fried. This approach makes for an entirely different culinary experience, resulting in very succulent bites of powerfully-flavoured greens.
If there’s one thing you need to make sure of when making spinach pakoras it’s the temperature of your oil. Too hot and your oil will burn the pakoras before they are cooked through; too cold and the oil will penetrate the food, making for a soggy, unhealthy mass, good only for the bin. To get things just right and your batter crispy test the oil first by testing a little of the batter over a medium temperature. If it begins to bubble immediately proceed, if not be more patient!
- 175g fresh spinach
- 1 tsp kalonji seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp ground coriander seed
- 1 tsp ground cumin seed
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp gram flour
- enough water to form a firm batter
- oil for deep frying
- Heat a little sunflower oil in a large pan and gently toast the kalonji seeds, mustard seeds and garlic. After around 1 minute add the spinach and allow to wilt. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- In a wok or deep pan heat up 2-3 inches of sunflower oil (see above for hint and tips).
- Meanwhile, add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and gram flour to the wilted spinach and beat thoroughly. If necessary, add a dash or two of water until you have achieved a firm batter.
- Using a dessert spoon measure out the spinach batter and deep fry three at a time. Each pakora should take 2-3 minutes to cook through – be careful to let them burn.
- Once cooked, transfer the pakoras to a plate, using kitchen roll to soak up any excess oil. Serve immediately.
Cost: As with most Indian condiments, spinach pakoras are extremely inexpensive to make at home and usually prove even cheaper than the horribly dry renditions on offer at your local “super” market. Indeed, 8 of these beauties should set you back no more than £1.50 (not including the oil for frying, which can be re-used.