Monday, February 17, 2014

Achaari Sabzi Pakoray (Pickled Vegetable Fritters)


Pakoray (fritters) are really delicious fried snacks which originated in India. What I love about these is that this is a recipe which I can innovate with and have fun in the kitchen! They're famous all over India, Pakistan, and also other parts of the world. Nowadays, a lot of people in the UK & the US also enjoy these; I don't blame them, these really are very delicious!

You start off with a basic batter and then pretty much do whatever you like with it! Or, to get a traditional taste you follow one of the traditional recipes for Pakoray. This recipe in particular isn't a traditional one; I was bored and had to make Pakoray one lazy day and just for some entertainment I decided to give my Pakoray a little bit of a twist. I used store bought frozen and cut mixed vegetables and paired them with a random Punjabi Achaar (Pickle) I had in my kitchen to end up with SERIOUSLY tasty Pakoray.
You can really tweak any part of the recipe according to your taste; from spices to the Achaar you use, the salt quantity you prefer, and etc.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups Gram Flour (Besan)
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt (or according to taste)
  • Pinch of Red Chilly Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda (Optional)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
  • Oil
  • 1 tbsp. Achaar (Indian Pickle) or according to taste
  • Green Chilies (optional)
  • Spring Onions (optional)
  • Chaat Masaala (according to taste)
  • 1 small sized potato, peeled and chopped very finely
  • 1/4 large sized Onion (finely chopped)
  • Cilantro leaves (according to taste, chopped finely)
  • Oil for frying


Method:

Measure Gram Flour in a bowl and add a little water to it, a few tbsp. to make a paste. The consistency of the paste should be such that it drops off the spoon when you lift it, but is not runny. Add the Salt, Red Chilly Power, and Cumin and keep aside. If you choose to, then add the Baking Soda at this point. Leave this to rest and come together for a couple hours (if you're in a hurry then it's okay! My mama says the more you let it soak the lesser the gram flour has chances of troubling your stomach).

Measure the frozen vegetable in another bowl and rinse them with water so that they are a little defrosted. Drain the water away.

Add a little bit of oil to a frying pan, only about two tbsp. for sauteing. Let it heat and then add the frozen vegetables. Add the Achaar of your choice and then stir so that the vegetables are completely cooking in the Achaar. I would suggest using a more liquidy Achaar rather than the one that has while pieces of for example carrots or lemons. If the Achaar is more liquidy, like the one in the picture above, it spreads with the oil in the pan and the vegetables pick up a lot of flavor.


Cook only till the point you think the vegetables are completely defrosted and have softened up. Do not brown them or overcook. You want them to add that fresh flavor and taste in the fritters!

Next, add the cilantro in the gram flour batter, add green chilies if you would like to (you can also add them to the vegetables when you're cooking instead). Also you can add spring onions if you want to! Like I said, innovate! Mix together really well.

Finish by adding the Chaat Masaala, the potatoes, and the mixed cooked vegetables with the excess Achaar and oil from the pan.
Put the oil on medium/high heat for frying and while it heats up, the very last step is to add the onions to the batter. The reason why onions go in last is because they will make the batter runny if they're left for too long.

Finally comes the final step! Fry the fitters. Use a tablespoon to drop the batter into the oil. Make sure they don't stick to each other, don't overcrowd the pan, and watch out; I've burnt myself because of oil before and it is HORRIBLE. The mark doesn't go away!!

Fry till they are brown on both sides. Keep stirring and inverting them around so that you're checking them often!

Remove from oil when golden brown on all sides. Place on a towel paper for some time to soak the excess oil before serving.

There they are! Steaming hot, fresh, very Achaari & spicy fritters! Serve them with ketchup or a chutney of your choice ... or just devour them just like that! They are extremely delicious, easy, and trust me when I tell you they will be gone from your serving platter before you even know it!

Until next time, Happy Cooking!
- S. Ali

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