My baking shelf was a mess: random open bags of interesting flours I bought with the intention of creating all kinds of gluten-free and other exotic goodies. But despite a stint as a pastry chef at Vivande Ristorante in San Francisco, baking is not really my first love or my default cooking mode. What to do with all this chickpea flour and brown rice flour? (Not to mention the steamed black radish sitting in my fridge that I had yet to incorporate into a meal?). How about an impromptu Indian treat of pakoras with apple mint chutney and yogurt raita?
Almost everything is local (besides the flours and other out of region pantry staples, of course). I really wanted peas and though they aren’t quite ready here, they are in not-to-far, slightly more southern climes and so they were my cheat. They otherwise are filled with fresh or locally frozen vegetables and herbs from local farmers (several herbs are already for sale at the farmers’ market), so they are as “healthy” as something that is deep fried can be. Several farmers now sell bags of their vegetables from last season, fresh-frozen, so use your favorites.
Pakora (Indian Vegetable Fritters)
with Apple Mint Chutney and Yogurt Raita
3 cups chickpea flour
2/3 cup brown rice flour
2 teaspoons cumin seed
½ teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon coriander powder
2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups water (approx.)
1 large onion, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup frozen or fresh cooked peas
2/3 cup cooked cauliflower (or turnips or white potatoes), cut in 1/2 “ pieces, par boiled
2/3 cup cooked spinach, chopped
Coconut oil for frying
- Combine the chickpea flour and brown rice flour in a large mixing bowl.
- Toast the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds in a small sauté pan over medium heat until you can start to smell the aroma and the pan just begins to smoke. Grind together in a spice or coffee grinder. Combine in a small bowl with the other spices, salt and baking soda.
- Add spices to flour mixture and combine thoroughly
- Add water gradually, until mixture forms a thick paste
- Stir in vegetables until fully combined.
- Pour oil in a large, deep skillet until it reaches 2” from the top of the skill, or in a deep fryer. Heat over medium high heat to about 350 degrees or until a small amount of the mixture sizzles immediately when dropped into the oil.
- Drop over-heaping tablespoons of the mixture into the oil and fry until golden brown, turning after about 3 or 4 minutes and frying another 2 to 3 minutes each.
- Drain excess oil on paper towels.
- Serve with Apple Mint Chutney and Yogurt Raita (recipes follow).
Makes about 20-30 fritters.
Apple mint chutney recipe
1 tablespoon butter or oil
½ onion, chopped into ½” pieces
2 apples, peeled and chopped into ¾” pieces
1” piece fresh ginger, peeled
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 scallion, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Heat butter or oil in medium sauce pan over medium high heat.
- Saute onions for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent
- Stir in chopped apple, sauté for about 2 minutes
- Add cider vinegar and spices, stir well.
- Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 35-45 minutes until apples are soft and the liquid is reduced and syrupy. Keep an eye on the liquid, add water as needed to keep moist.
- Remove the ginger piece and stir in mint and lemon juice.
- Keep in refrigerator until ready to use. Serve with pakora.
Makes about 1 ½ cups chutney.
Yogurt raita recipe
1 cup yogurt (I prefer sheep’s milk but any greek style will work)
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
1 scallion, thinly sliced (optional)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt, to taste
Mint leaf, for garnish
- Combine ingredients in a small bowl.
- Add salt to taste, let sit in refrigerator for one hour or until ready to use
- Garnish with mint leaf and serve with pakora.
Makes about 1 cup raita.