Hot and crispy, bright yellow slices of bread pakora perfectly fit the bill for the early monsoon showers certain parts of India currently.
From the past two days, we’ve been experiencing heavy showers in Delhi and some other parts of North India too. While monsoon isn’t due until July, seems like the weather god wanted to give us a trailer and brace us for the upcoming season. For most of us, who were totally annoyed by the hot and humid weather in May itself, it was becoming difficult to imagine how we would survive the next month too. However, this rain trailer made our day and uplifted our moods too. The cool breeze at the end of the day that hits your face makes you feel alive and fresh. This also reminds of us of all the monsoon-special snacks that we would devour during the season every year. Pakoras being one of them.
For those untouched by the phenomenon, pakoras are deep-fried Indian snacks that are quintessential monsoon treats. Hot and crispy, the pakoras are usually filled with a sliced vegetable that is batter-fried in gram flour and served alongside chai and coriander chutney. Unlike most deep-fried favourites of our country like kachori and samosa that have foreign origins, we can proudly call pakoras our own creation. India loves to deep-fry most of its snacks. Pick anything, from the bhajiyas of central India to the bondas of the South, each one of them is a kind of pakora in their own way. The basic concept of dipping sliced vegetables in a batter and deep-frying them in hot oil can be accredited to India.
Moreover, they even spread it across the world. The Japanese tempura, heard of it? Well, you would be surprised to know that our humble pakora is an inspiration behind this deep-fried Japanese dish. It was only after the Portuguese took Indian chefs on their way to Japan and taught them this technique in the 16th century that the tempura came into being. Otherwise, do you find any mention of deep-fried items anywhere in Japanese cuisine? Interesting right? Another interesting bit is that the largely vegetarian snack found its non-vegetarian counterparts over time. The crispy chicken pakora is a case in point.
However, the vegetarian snack has also managed to sneak into our breakfast tables and offer us a delectable and wholesome treat. We’re talking about bread pakora. Similar to regular pakora in terms of cooking technique, it is the combination of ingredients that is slightly different. So instead of simply slicing veggies and dunking them in besan to fry hot, the same vegetables are mashed and slathered in between triangular-cut slices of bread and dipped in the batter. Over time, bread pakora has also come to be associated as a breakfast special in monsoons.
To make it at home, you need to cut triangular slices of bread. Meanwhile, boil some potatoes. Prepare the batter by adding water to a bowl of gram flour with salt, cumin, red chilli powder and coriander leaves. Mix it well to make a semi-thick batter. Once the potatoes are boiled, let them cool down and peel them. Mash them and add some spices like salt and red chilli powder. Take half a slice and slather it with potato mixture. Place another half triangle on top of it. Carefully dip this in the gram flour batter and place it in hot oil in a kadhai. Deep-fry until it turns golden-brown and serve with tomato ketchup and coriander chutney.
Here’s a detailed recipe to try.