Using up leftovers: Vegetable Pakora

December 27, 2012

Vegetable Pakora

It always happens after the big holidays – you have a few leftovers in the refrigerator. At first you work your way through the the prepared foods, simply reheating or making sandwiches from hams and turkeys, but there’s always those extra bits of raw ingredients left over, such as excess vegetables that may not have made their way into the rich dishes you created for Christmas dinner.

Fear not! Instead of simply steaming or boiling these veggies, why don’t you add some spice to your life, making this modern take on vegetable pakora? When I first saw this recipe on Design Sponge, I was blown away by its simplicity and beauty. Unfortunately, my husband is terribly allergic to chickpeas, and thus I couldn’t use the besan flour that pakoras traditionally use. So instead, I pulsed some red lentils in a food processor until they became a fine, flour-like consistency, and used that instead. The result was wonderfully spiced finger foods we enjoyed over a nice glass of bubbly.

Vegetable Pakora
Adapted from Tara O’Brady’s recipe on Design Sponge
Serves 4

Approximately 2 1/2 pounds mixed vegetables, cleaned and trimmed. Good candidates are onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, small eggplants, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans.
1 1/2 cups masoor dal (red lentils), ground in a processor to a flour consistency (or you can use 1 cup garbanzo flour)
1–2 small fresh red chilies, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Oil for deep frying (peanut, vegetable or canola)
For serving:
Fresh Green Chutney (see below)
Chili sauce

First, make the chutney (recipe below).

Prepare the vegetables. For the onions, peel and slice them into thin rings horizontally. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplants and zucchini should be kept unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch slices. Carrots can be left whole if skinny or cut on the diagonal into slices if not. Blanch broccoli or cauliflower and then cut into florets. Green beans can be left whole, and quickly blanched if thick. Set all the vegetables aside while you make the batter.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, chili, cilantro and salt. Slowly stir in enough water to bring the mixture to the consistency of heavy whipping cream. Beat the batter well, until it is lightened and foamy at the edges. Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed pot on the stove or in a deep fryer, pour in enough oil to come to about 5″ up the side. Heat oil to 350 degrees. If using onions, separate the slices into individual rings and drop them into the prepared batter, stirring gently to coat. Using a fork, pick up a clump of onion rings and allow the excess batter to drip back into the bowl.

Carefully lower the clump of onions into the oil and fry until lightly golden on one side, around 30–40 seconds. Flip the fritter and cook until crisp on the other side. Remove from the oil and drain on a cooling rack set up over newspaper or on some folded paper towels. Season with salt.

Repeat, frying a few at a time, until all the onions are used. For the remaining vegetables, dip each piece in the batter, then lift out the vegetable, shaking off excess. Carefully place four or five pieces of vegetables in the oil at a time, or however many your pan can accommodate without crowding. Turn the fritters now and again to ensure even cooking, removing them from the oil when they’re golden brown all over and the vegetables cooked. Timing will depend on the vegetables used, with harder vegetables taking as much as a few minutes, so keep an eye on them and judge accordingly. Season the fritters with salt while hot.

Enjoy immediately. Serve with the green chutney or chili sauce for dipping.

Fresh Green Chutney

1/2 Granny Smith apple
1 teaspoons water
1 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 green chili, chopped roughly (seed if you don’t care for too much heat)
1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cups fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, loosely packed
1 lime

Leaving the peel on, core the apple and chop the flesh into small chunks. Add to a food processor with the water and process until the apple is liquefied. This may take a few minutes of running the machine, stopping and scraping down the sides, then running it again.

Stop the machine. Scrape down the sides and add the rest of the ingredients to the processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Chill chutney in the refrigerator until pakora are ready.

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