20 April 2011

Indian Style Vegetable Fritters

 Test Fritters

I took advantage of my unexpected bounty of zuchini to make some vegetable fritters for dinner. I first had these at this Sri Lankan joint near my house on my first day of public school. The stand was in one of those converted keysmith/photodevelopers huts you sometimes see in shopping center parking lots. They eventually razed the place to make room for more cars. I lost track of them after that. Man, did they have some good food... I got the combo of chicken curry (with curry leaves in it!), rice, the fritters, and a large serving of spicy as hellfire red coconut chutney. I've come close to duplicating that chutney, but that is a subject for another post.

Anyway, these deep fried morsels of goodness, aka bhajji or pakora depending what kind of Indian you are, are easy to make. They come in two major styles. One is the tempura style, where large pieces of vegetable are dipped in batter and fried. The other style is what I call the 'hushpuppy' style. Small bits of vegetable are mixed into the batter, and spoonfuls are dropped into the frying oil. I made mine according to this style.

 Please don't notice my unprofessional lack of a fry thermometer.

There are also different schools of thought on batter composition. The base is usually chickpea flour, but may include additions of wheat or rice flour. It may also include other lentil flours (usually urad daal) in addition too or in place off the chickpea flour. I used a pure chickpea flour this time around.

Master Formula For Pakora Batter
100 chickpea/garbanzo bean flour aka besan
100 Water
200 Vegetables*
7.5 Baking Powder
Seasonings To Taste

*Vegetables should be in small pieces or shredded. Some veggies have tons of excess moisture, like zucchini, that will need to be dealt with.

Tonight I used 200g of flour, 200 gram of water, ~400g of shredded zucchini and sliced green onion (~5 zuch's and 1 bunch of scallion), ~15ml of dried fenugreek leaves aka methi, and 15g of baking powder. The zucchini was salted and pressed before I weighed it. There is a lot of water to get rid of, using a fine strainer will help you when it comes time to squeeze the water out. The more you tighten your grip, the more zucchini shreds will slip through your fingers. (Star Wars, it's a classic.) I seasoned it with tumeric, cumin, corriander seed, asfaetoida, red chili powder, and garam masala, for a mildly spiced bhajji.
 The batter before mixing with water

The texture is like that of thick applesauce.

 Das Batter

This mixture resulted in a really puffy fritter, with a soft, almost cakey/custard like interior. Sadly, the large pieces didn't hold their crispness for long. I attribute this to excess moisture still in the veggies.

GBD on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside.

We had a light dinner for 2 with this amount and some salad, and almost a pint left of batter. Accompany this meal with a simple daal and some rice for more substantial fare.

Classic main ingredient variations in this style are spinach or other green, potatoes, or onions.

Serve this with some green chutney, and tamerand chutney. I didn't have the stuff to make the green chutney, so I just made some tamarand chutney. I missed the green chutney.

1 cup raisons chopped (I used pitted prunes because that is what I had on hand, and they were tasty in the chutney)
1/3 cup tamerand concentrate (Amount needed will very depending on the type and brand of your concentrate, Use your taste and judgement)
1/4 cup brown sugar
~1/2 cup lemon juice (Optional, I had some left over that was kicking around in the fridge. I tossed it in to clear space. It was tasty)
1 tablespoon minced/grated ginger
Season to taste with cumin, red chili, garam masala, and salt (use black salt if you're hard corp)

Toss it all in a pot, add some water, and simmer for a while until the tastes and textures blend (Maybe half an hour to 45 min? I just left it on the stove to cook on low, while I got everything else ready and cleaned up). You can toss it in a blender if you like, but I just mashed it with a potato masher while it cooks so mine is a little chunky. Yields about 3 cups. It's a lot like ketchup, but less tangy and without that glutamate punch from the tomatoes.

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