Pakoras By Other Names? 8 Fritters From Around The World
Image Credit: PEXELS

PAKORAS, or bhajis as they are sometimes called, are a beloved Indian food consisting of battered and deep-fried vegetables. These crispy snacks are popular worldwide, with many cultures having their own versions of fritters that bear resemblance to pakoras. In this article, we will take you on a culinary journey across the globe and introduce you to some mouth-watering fritter varieties that share similarities with India's pakoras.

Tempura: Japan

Tempura is Japan's version of pakoras. This popular dish features lightly battered and deep-fried seafood or vegetables. The tempura batter is made by mixing wheat flour, water, and sometimes sparkling water for added crispiness. Common ingredients used in tempuras include shrimp (ebi tempura), sweet potatoes (satsuma-imo tempura), bell peppers, mushrooms, or eggplant slices. Just like pakoras, these delicate morsels are often enjoyed with tentsuyu dipping sauce which adds a savoury touch to the dish.

Festival Fritters: Jamaica 

Jamaican Festival Fritters are a delightful Caribbean treat that encapsulate the vibrant flavours of the Caribbean. These golden, slightly sweet fritters boast a crispy exterior and a soft, tender interior. Made with a blend of cornmeal and flour, they are often enjoyed alongside jerk chicken or served as a snack. The name "festival" itself signifies celebrations and joy, and each bite of these fritters transports you to the sun-soaked beaches and lively culture of Jamaica. Whether paired with savoury dishes or enjoyed on their own, Jamaican Festival Fritters bring a taste of the Caribbean straight to your palate.

Bakwan: Indonesia

Bakwan is an Indonesian fritter that showcases the country's vibrant culinary heritage. This flavourful dish features a mixture of shredded carrots and cabbage with bean sprouts, combined with garlic, shallots, turmeric, coriander powder and chili pepper. The mixture is then bound together with batter made from wheat flour or rice flour before being deep-fried until crispy. Bakwan can be enjoyed on its own as an appetiser or served alongside noodles or rice dishes for a complete meal bursting with Indonesian flavours.

Akara Balls: West Africa

In West Africa, akara balls offer a tasty similarity to pakoras. Made from black-eyed peas soaked and blended into a batter, these fritters are seasoned with chili pepper, ginger, garlic, and other spices for added flavour. The small balls of batter are then shallow-fried until golden brown, resulting in deliciously crisp exteriors while maintaining soft interiors. Akara is a popular street food found in Nigeria and other West African countries due to its satisfying taste and protein-rich nature.

Corn Fritters: The US

Across the United States, corn fritters serve as an appetising counterpart to Indian pakoras. Combining finely ground cornmeal with eggs, milk or buttermilk, along with seasonings like salt and pepper results in a thick batter that is spooned into hot oil for frying until golden brown. These fritters have slightly sweet notes from the corn kernels within them which provide both flavour and texture reminiscent of classic pakoras. Corn fritters make delightful companions to barbecue dishes or can be enjoyed as standalone treats.

Yu Tiao Fritters: China

Chinese cuisine also offers its take on pakoras through yu tiao fritters — long strips of deep-fried dough made from wheat flour-based batter. While traditionally eaten for breakfast accompanied by soy milk or congee (rice porridge), they can also be enjoyed throughout the day as snacks paired with various dipping sauces such as chili oil or soy sauce.

Jeon: South Korea

Jeon is a popular Korean fritter that can be enjoyed as a snack or part of a meal. Made by coating various ingredients such as vegetables, seafood or meat in a flour and egg batter before pan-frying until golden brown, jeon offers a delightful combination of flavours and textures. Some common types of jeon include kimchi jeon (pan-fried kimchi pancake), haemul pajeon (seafood and scallion pancake), and bindaetteok (mung bean pancake). These savoury fritters are often served with soy dipping sauce and make for a delicious addition to any Korean feast.

Buñuelos: Spain

Buñuelos are delightful Spanish fritters that offer a deliciously sweet treat. They are made from a simple dough consisting of flour, eggs, sugar, and sometimes flavoured with lemon zest or aniseed. The dough is dropped by spoonfuls into hot oil and fried until they turn golden brown on the outside while remaining soft and fluffy on the inside. Once cooked, buñuelos are dusted with powdered sugar and can be enjoyed plain or filled with chocolate or cream for added indulgence.

Experiment with different vegetables, spices, and cooking methods to discover your favourite variations from around the world. From Japanese tempura to Jamaican festival fritters – there are many iterations of the beloved Indian pakora to be relished across the globe.