If there is anything that screams monsoon, it has to be pakoras.
While there are plenty of quintessential monsoon dishes that can be prepped up at home, pakoras hold a special place in most North Indian homes. The variety of pakoras that one can whip up are insanely large. From potatoes to paneer and even green chillies, anything can be turned into a pakora by simply dipping it in a bowl of gram flour. Pakoras, for the unversed, are batter-fried Indian fritters that are usually served as evening snacks. While each vegetable pakora has a unique taste, it is paneer pakoras that require some amount precision. Paneer aka cottage cheese has a soft and creamy texture and sometimes, the pakora is unable to hold the shape together. That’s when you need some expert tips to ace the pakora game.
Since monsoon is just around the corner, it would be a tad bit unfair not to indulge in hot and crispy bites like pakoras. The pakoras are usually dipped in gram flour or besan and deep-fried in hot oil until they turn golden-brown. Did you know that our pakoras have served as an inspiration for Japanese tempura? It was the Spanish and Portuguese travelers who were first introduced to the idea of fried vegetables on their way to Japan in the 16th century. The Indian chefs on the ship taught them how to make these fried bites and upon reaching Japan, they spread it across the country. It is believed that that is how the Japanese tempura came into being.
The sound of pitter-patter on the window sills makes one crave for pakoras. Paneer pakoras aren’t a cakewalk. You need to take of the paneer cubes, the coating and plenty of other factors to achieve that perfect crispy paneer pakora in the end.
Here are some tips and tricks that will come in handy.
1. The first step to making delicious paneer pakoras is to get the paneer right. Whether it is homemade paneer or packaged paneer that you are using, you need to slice the cubes right. Not too thin as they might break easily and not too thick, as the flavour of the masala will not seep in well.
2. Coating the paneer is the next most important thing that should be done with precision. When you dip a cube of paneer in gram flour batter, it should be ensured that it is properly covered on all sides. However, you need to achieve an ideal layer of coating which is neither too thick nor too thin.
3. The batter made with gram flour should have a homogenous consistency. If you notice any lumps, then add some more water but be careful not to make the batter too thin. Continuous stirring while making the batter should be followed.
4. To make crispy pakoras, add some rice flour and cornflour to the batter. This will result in a crunchy outer layer which will stay crispy for longer.
5. To flavour the paneer, add spices like carom and asafoetida. This enhances the taste of the pakoras.