Rainy days or monsoon season in India triggers the urge to munch on hot pakoras or bhajias as an accompaniment to evening chai . This mixed bhajia recipe is inspired by the street style bite sized pakoras sold by the small shanty street vendors of India served along with a hot cup of masala chai.
There is something special and unique about these bhajias, they are spicy and crispy with just the right crunch which makes you want them more.
This vegetable pakora is so easy to make with the flexibility to adapt the recipe to add your choice of pakora ingredients.
These Indian fritters are also called bhajia’s or pakoras. They are the same just called by different names.
There are different types of Indian bhajia recipes. Some are made with just a single type of vegetable such as onions, potato, cauliflower, spinach pakoras, etc. You will also find the non-vegetarian versions such as chicken and fish pakoras.
The main feature of any bhajia recipe is the use of the pakora flour that is essentially gram flour also known as chickpea flour. This is what makes Indian fritters a perfect gluten-free easy Indian snack to serve.
This is an onion and potato bhajia recipe, where I have mixed the two vegetables together to make one of the best crispy pakoras that are irresistible.
Ingredients For Bhajia
All Indian pakoras have one thing in common and that is the addition of gram flour which is flour made from dehusked black chickpeas.
Luckily these days chickpea flour is easily available in the gluten-free section of most large super markets.
For making this Indian vegetable fritter at home you will need some basic ingredients:
FRESH AND PANTRY ITEMS
⇒Gram flour /chickpea flour
⇒Water for mixing
⇒Salt to taste
⇒Oil for deep frying
⇒Garam masala powder (Click here for benefits and uses)
⇒Carom seeds/ Ajwain (Click here for benefits and uses)
⇒Red chilli powder (Click here to read about kashmiri chilli)
⇒Turmeric (Click here for benefits and uses)
⇒Dry fenugreek leaves (Click here for uses and substitutes)
⇒Fresh coriander /cilantro leaves
⇒Fresh green chillies
⇒Chaat masala for sprinkling (Click here for uses and substitutes)
⇒Substitute for gramflour – Use a mix of rice flour and plain wheat flour or a mix of fresh chickpeas paste with plain flour/rice flour (other options in the FAQ section)
⇒ Substitute for carom seeds/ajwain – Leave them out or use fennel seeds or thyme instead (Read FAQ section for further clarification)
How To Make Bhajia
The secret to make crispy vegetable pakoras lies in how well you make the pakora batter.
The consistency of the batter, the cut of the vegetables and the temperature of the oil makes a lot of difference to the texture and taste of your homemade pakoras.
This easy bhajia recipe is made even quicker as I have skipped chopping the vegetables individually. Using a hand blender for chopping is one of my handy Indian kitchen tips to cook Indian food fast.
Here is a step by step method on how to make pakoras at home with ease.
STEP 1 – Chop the vegetables
Add onions, potato, ginger and garlic in a hand blender and coarsely chop.
STEP 2 – Make the batter
In a large mixing bowl add the gramflour and the spices that is chilli powder, garam masala powder, turmeric, carom seeds, dry fenugreek leaves, 2-3 tsp of oil and salt and mix well.
Slowly add cold water to the flour to make a thick paste. Beat the batter really well for 4-5 minutes until it is glossy and lump-free.
Add the chopped vegetables to the batter and mix well.
Add semolina and fresh coriander leaves and chopped green chillies if using and fold in. The batter should be of a thick drop consistency.
STEP 5 – Fry the mixed pakoras
Heat 1 cup of sunflower oil or any oil suitable for deep frying. Make sure that the oil is not too hot or too cool.
You can do so by dropping a small piece of the batter in the oil. If it floats back to the top then the oil is of the right temperature.
Take spoonfuls of the batter and gently drop them into the warm oil. Fry the pakoras until golden and crisp, sieve through excess oil and remove.
Continue to deep fry the onion and potato bhajias in batches until golden brown in colour.
Drain the hot crispy pakoras on a kitchen towel to remove excess oil and serve hot with any sauce of your choice.
Video On How To Make Pakora
Cooking Tips and FAQ’s
- If you wish your bhajias to be crispy then avoid chopping the vegetables fine.
- Use neutral oil for frying the pakoras.
- Substitute potatoes with other quick cooking vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, capsicum etc if you wish.
- Do not add the bhajias in cold oil. This will only make them soggy and absorb excessive oil.
- Ensure there are no lumps in the batter.
- If the batter becomes too thin add some more gramflour to it.
- Sprinkling some chaat masala on the top enhances the flavour of the pakoras
How to make pakoras crispy?
The secret to make crispy pakoras is multifold. Here are some of the tricks to consistently make crispy bhajias at home:
- Your choice of vegetables and way you chop them has an impact on the texture of the pakoras. For example thinly sliced or medium chopped vegetables tend to be crispier than finely chopped once. Vegetables that have high water content will also be softer than say potatoes.
- The consistency of the batter needs to be right for making the bhajias crispy. Too thin batter will drip and not form a uniform coating while thick batter will form a thick coating making the pakoras wet and spongy.
- Avoid adding too much water to the batter, take into account that all vegetables release water after it is chopped.
- Mixing the batter with some oil and beating it for a longer time makes the batter airy and light which contributes to the crispiness
- Adding semolina and/or rice flour to the bhajia recipe gives these pakoras texture and a crunch.
- Cook the pakoras on medium heat. Cooking on too high will burn the outside and leave them raw inside while low temperature makes then soak up more oil.
What can I substitute gram flour/chickpea flour with?
The special bhajia flour that is chickpea flour is the essence of Indian pakoras which differentiates them from other fritters.
However, if you have difficulty on sourcing chickpea flour then you are make a paste of canned chickpeas and mix it with some rice flour or plain flour. However these bhajias tend to be soft and not crispy.
You can also add plain flour or rice flour for making the batter but they have a more fritter like taste than Indian vegetable pakoras.
Why is carom seeds used in this recipe ? What can I substitute it with?
Carom seeds have active enzymes that help to boost digestive functions by releasing gastric juices. This makes our body to better digest deep-fried foods and prevent bloatiness which is normally associated with fried heavy snacks.
Adding ajwain to the pakoras not only enhances the taste but also has health benefits.
If you do not have carom seeds then you can substitute ajwain with some crushed fennel seeds or aniseed which also has good digestive properties but a different taste than carom.
In order to replicate the taste of carom seeds you can use a teaspoon of thyme as well.
What other vegetables can be used to make Indian vegetable fritters using this bhajia recipe?
You can choose from a selection of vegetables to make Indian style vegetable pakoras at home. Some of the best vegetables to make mixed bhajias are:
Carrots, cabbage, cauliflower – Chopped or thinly sliced
Spinach, kale – whole or torn in large pieces with hand and drained out of extra water before use
Zucchini – Grated and drained out of extra water
What to serve Pakoras with?
You can serve these crispy mixed bhajias with mint chutney, joghurt mint chutney, tamarind chutney or even regular ketchup. You can also sprinkle some chaat masala on top of the bhajias and serve.
yummy and crispy snacks! the spice combo is wonderful
Wonderful recipe. Thank you for all the helpful information about the ingredients. I love to use chickpea flour.
So glad that you enjoyed the snack. Thanks for trying it.
These crispy little bites are so yummy! I love the spices.
Thanks Stacey. So glad you enjoyed it.