Cauliflower pakora are a traditional Indian snack or appetizer that’s both tasty and versatile. Cook up some of these fritters to start your next Indian meal or add some to your game day or party menu!
I’ve mentioned before that while we didn’t have a huge range of ethnic food around when I was young, we did have good access to Indian food. We didn’t go out for a meal all that often, but when we did, a local Indian restaurant was a favorite.
While sometimes we’d go straight to mains (like lamb rogan josh and paneer Makhani), in many cases we’d start with a couple of appetizers. Along with poppadoms and dips, pakoras and bhajis were a popular choice.
What are pakora?
Pakora are an Indian snack or appetizer, typically made from vegetables, dipped in a seasoned batter and fried. You can bake them, which is of course a bit healthier, but they are never going to have quite as much of that classic crispness.
You can spice up the batter as much as you like. It can vary a bit by region, but common additions are the spice mix garam masala, curry leaves, turmeric, chili, ginger and garlic. I’ve given a milder but flavorful mix below using easier to find ingredients. But after you’ve tried them, feel free to adjust to your taste.
Are pakora gluten free?
In this case, yes, and it’s true of most. Pakora batter is usually primarily chick pea flour. You can mix it with other flours to balance out the texture. Rice flour is common, so they are still usually gluten free.
You can use lots of different vegetables in pakora, with cauliflower, spinach, cabbage and onion being popular. You can mix a few together as well. It’s worth avoiding anything that has a high water content like zucchini or tomato, I’d suggest, but otherwise experiment away!
As I say, cauliflower pakora are one of the more popular and I’d definitely recommend them. They’re easy and addictively tasty!
You can either make them with mid-sized florets and just have roughly one per pakora, or you can make the pieces smaller and take scoops of the batter. If you use large florets, you may want to gently steam them before so that they will cook through properly.
You can deep fry these, but I find that shallow frying and then turning works just fine, which saves using too much oil if you don’t have a deep frying in use often, as is the case in our house.
Once cooked, drain them on some paper towel before serving. This helps to get rid of as much excess oil as you can. You can serve them as they are, but they are also great dipped in raita which is like a gently Indian spiced tzatziki (in fact you can make tzatziki and just add a little garam masala rather than mint).
Cauliflower pakora are such flavor-packed little bites that are quick and easy to make. They are the perfect start to an Indian meal, as when I first had them, but they are equally good as part of any appetizer spread. Why not add them to your next game day menu? Make some soon and enjoy!
These cauliflower pakora are easy to make with easier to find ingredients but packed with flavor. Perfect to start an Indian meal or as a party appetizer.
- 1 cup cauliflower florets 95g, bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour 32g (also called gram flour)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp garlic (grated/crushed - a heaped 1/4 tsp is fine)
- 1/4 tsp ginger (fresh, grated)
- 3 tbsp water or a little more if needed
Cut the cauliflower into small-ish florets so they are wither bite-sized or slightly smaller. Wash and pat dry.
Mix together the chickpea flour, salt, turmeric, garlic, ginger and water to make the batter. It should stick to the back of a spoon but not be so thick it doesn't run off at all.
Put the pieces of cauliflower into the batter and mix well so the pieces of cauliflower are well coated in the batter. Spoon bits in to the gaps if needed.
Heat some vegetable or other flavorless oil in a small skillet/frying pan - around 1/3 in (1 cm) deep or a little more. Once it is warm at a medium heat, take spoonfuls of the cauliflower and place in the pan (generally 1-2 pieces of cauliflower in each spoonful, depending on size).
Once the pakora have been cooking around 2-3 minutes and are going golden on the bottom, turn over with a slotted spoon and cook on the other side. Turn to any other side not yet cooked if needed. Once golden all over, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon to drain off excess oil then put on paper towel to drain. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
Serve either as they are or with raita (spiced yogurt dip).
Note - you can adapt seasoning to taste eg add a bit of chili, curry leaves (common in original, but it's hard to get fresh curry leaves elsewhere) or some garam masala. Take care not to overcrowd the pan as you cook them or they will stick and/or the temperature will go down too much.
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