Please meet the most addictive food of all time…onion pakoras. They are crunchy, spice-rich, delicate, and hearty all at the same time. When you get to eat them fresh and crisp, straight out of bubbling oil, and dipped into an aggressively sweet-sour tamarind chutney, they are pretty much unsurpassed.
They’re like next-level onion rings. So good.
India has one of the most vibrant street food cultures of the world. You can rest assured that this won’t be the last Indian recipe to grace the pages of Street Food Monday.
There is such a rich cultural heritage, and food heritage, in India. It’s a place I’ve been fascinated by for a long time. If you want to dream about distant lands, and get a taste of what India might be like for a traveler, I very much recommend Michael Palin’s Himalaya, or for something a little sillier, this YouTube series, The Rickshaw Run.
Or, of course, The Darjeeling Limited (one of my favourite movies). This movie, more than anything, makes me feel that inexorable pull towards new places, new experiences.
But I often think that some of the most interesting aspects of such physically different places are the similarities. The way that people in what seem like such extraordinary and different places are just living their lives, and going to work and having families.
The one thing that we all have in common, and this, I think, is why Anthony Bourdain’s shows are so popular, is food. Everybody’s gotta eat. And it’s a rare human indeed who doesn’t want to enjoy their food.
Well, one thing I definitely have in common with people on the streets of India is a love of pakoras. These are sometimes known as bhajis or pakodas. What you call them doesn’t matter, though. The only important thing is that you make some. They are seriously, ridiculously delicious, and they happen to be vegan and gluten free. Slice up some onions, mix up a simple batter, and then go to town. You will DEFINITELY not regret it.
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- ½ tsp each cumin, cardamom, and ground ginger
- ½ cup tamarind paste
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 2 medium brown or yellow onions
- ¾ cup chickpea flour (sometimes known as gram or besan flour)
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp nigella seeds
- ¼ cup fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- sliced chilli, to taste (optional)
- Oil, for frying (I used canola)
- To make the chutney, place the oil and spices into a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Once the spices start sizzling, and smell slightly richer, add the remaining ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for about 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Set aside to cool.
- To make the onion pakoras, peel and finely slice the onions into half moons. Place the onions into a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Slowly add ½ cup of water, mixing as you go, to get a batter the consistency of very thick greek yoghurt. When everything is mixed together, cover the bowl with a cloth and set aside for about 10 minutes or so - this helps the onion to soften slightly, and helps the fritters hold together more readily.
- Heat about 2 inches of oil in a deep saucepan. Place a piece of onion in the pan - when it floats to the surface and sizzles, the oil is ready to go (about 350F/170C).
- Place heaping tablespoons full of the onion mixture into the oil - try and get a good equal ratio of onion to batter - and leave them to cook for about 3 minutes, flipping halfway. They will turn a nice golden brown, and should be cooked all the way through. Cut a fritter in half to test if need be.
- When all the fritters are cooked, pile them on a platter and serve with the room temperature chutney. These are great with a few beers, and some good friends.
Hooray for pakora! I eat plenty of them at our local (& excellent) Indian buffet, but I’ve never made them at home. I definitely need to try these out!
I have never heard of this treat but it looks fantastic. I recently look an Indian cooking class (we focused on dosas – street food monday idea?) and now have a whole new appreciation for this vibrant cuisine :)
Umm one word… HELL YES! ok that may have been two… :)
I feel like I’ve been ordering these at restaurants my whole life and HERE THEY ARE!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Totally making these asap!
I LOVE tamarind chutney. Just as a little tip, instead of adding sugar, my mom blends up some really soft medjool dates and uses those to sweeten the chutney. It’s a little family secret. ;)
That’s such a great idea! It would add lovely depth of flavour, too! I’ll definitely try that next time.
You know indian food is my favourite cusine of ALL time, I will never, ever say no to a pasanda, however had never heard of pakoras. They look like bahjis, so I can imagine how addictive they can be!
These are exactly like bhajis, also sometimes known as pakodas – always delicious!
Love every single street food monday so far! Just brillant! Cant wait to try this one.
So glad you like ’em Jesse! Thanks for commenting!
I always want Indian food. always. So I definitely need to try these soon!
Me too, Janelle, me too.
I love this series! Looks so good!!
O-M-G. This is one of my very favorite Indian dishes–how’d you know? :) So psyched to make it myself at home! Also, I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan–have you seen his latest movie? So dreamy!
Me too! And yes, I have – totally gorgeous. It made me want to jump on a plain to Hungary immediately.
I absolutely love how you styled these guys! These look so ridiculously tasty–can i move in already?
These look amazing. you’ve named some serial favorites of mine.. wed anderson films, burning love of bourdain and STREET FOOD. its something about the un-fussy, not fancy, humility of it all. food for everyone, ya know?
Looks awesome ….even better than the ‘authentic’ ones I’ve grown up eating on the streets of Mumbai!
wonderful,,,how long can they take if I pack them for a trip
We made these this evening for dinner and served with rice. that tamarind chutney is amazing!
This looks amazing! I cant wait to try this. For the chutney, are you using ground cumin, cardamom and ginger? Or seeds? Thank you!
Hey Christine, Yes ground spices in the chutney!