Today, I’m sharing with you the recipe of one of my most favourite snacks, the epitome of South-East Asian street food, the very definition of delicious: Pakoras.
I have a bit of a love affair going on with Pakoras.
The thing I try (and fail) to avoid.
I pretend like I don’t need them on my Iftar plate.
I tell myself I’m going to be healthier and not fry these goodies.
I repress my craving for these tasty fritters because they’re oily and no good for me.
I act like I don’t even like them.
I love to hate these little fellas, don’t I?
But the truth it, few Pakistani households are without Pakoras during Ramadan. It’s just a part of the culture! My husband cannot even begin to get to grips with the idea of an Iftar (fast-breaking meal) table without Pakoras!
No matter how many affirmations we make, no matter how many times we tell ourselves, regardless of how health articles we read about the dangers of eating fried food – these buddies are an Iftar companion that I doubt will be going anywhere anytime soon.
My Mother used to always tell others ‘Nahi, hum tu Ramadan me fry nahi karte (No, We don’t fry anything in Ramadan)’. Her words would give me some comfort – yes, this Ramadan I won’t be eating those Pakoras because THEY WON’T BE HERE! HURRAH! I’d secretly wish they would be, but I’d also know it’s good they won’t. It’s safer that way, believe me.
But then, at Iftar time there’d be a batch of freshly fried and perfectly crisp Pakoras awaiting us. ‘Bacho ke lie banana parta hai (I have to make them for the kids)’. Those delectable little fritters would sneakily end up on each and every one of our plates and before you’d know it, my Mother would be frying another batch.
The lovely thing about vegetable Pakoras is that there isn’t a set recipe for the vegetables. I tend to follow the same recipe for the batter but with the veggies, I’ll mix it up depending on what I have in the fridge. Generally, I go a bit heavy on the leafy greens, like in this recipe, always using spinach and coriander but occasionally adding fresh fenugreek or mustard leaves. Aubergines, potatoes and onions are also a must, but my husband likes cabbage too. I’ve seen recipes around the internet using peas, carrots, broccoli and other vegetables too. This particular recipe is based on how my Mother used to make her Pakoras. Feel free to mess around with the vegetables and add/omit what you fancy.
They also pair well with a coriander and mint raita, plum chutney and even humble old ketchup. I love mine with a strong cup of lightly sweetened tea after a busy afternoon or on a cold and rainy day – oh my, I’m craving a hot batch just imagining this!
This year in Ramadan, as always, I’m adamant Pakoras won’t be a regular show, but an occasional Iftar treat. I’m going to try my utmost best to not give into the temptation and pile my plate sky-high with those mouth-wateringly divine treats. I’m going to dodge the plate of Pakoras with unwavering determination and reach for the healthier, lighter option.
And as always, I’m very sure I won’t succeed.
Enjoy, with lots of love.x