Tara’s crispy vegetable pakoras w/ fresh green chutney

Tarapin it!Tarapin it!Tarapin it!Tarapin it!
I enjoy living with wellness in mind and trying to make-virtuous some of the more indulgent foods from time to time. But I would never say that giving classic dishes the old nutritional makeover is indicative of my overall approach/style with food. I eat for pleasure first and know my limits when it comes to wholesome versions of old favourites. For this reason, “oven-fried” isn’t even a real thing to me. What’s fried is fried and you can take it or leave it. Me? I’ll take it about 95% of the time.

When I first flipped through Tara O’Brady‘s magnificent new cookbook, my eyes darted to this recipe for vegetable pakoras real quick. There’s a beautiful photo of a paper-lined pie tin that’s teetering with a crispy, puffy, and shattering mix of vegetables. There are little vessels of dipping sauces and everything looks so vibrant against the cool grey background. I was already imagining them all dolled up with tender spring vegetables and a cold drink on my porch.

That’s the thing about this book. The recipes themselves and the thoughtful descriptions call you to action in a very positive way. Tara’s suggestions are quick to entice without a shred of coercion. Everything is stirring and nothing feels forced or terribly particular, which I like. There is precision and a certain cook’s literacy, but nothing is absolute. You can’t help but start visualizing, planning, and working these trusted combinations into your everyday, and on your own terms.

Her simple, but no doubt glorious, pot of braised late summer vegetables made me think of my tomato plants last September. All dried up and slowly fading while I bundled myself up in wool and picked giant bowlfuls of almost too-ripe fruit. In her chia pudding recipe, she suggests bashing up frozen raspberries so that the little jewel-like fragments burst on the palate like pomegranate seeds when tumbled on top. You can bet your life that I tried that the next morning with my overnight chia seed oats, carefully waiting for that tart popping sensation and then widening my eyes when it was distinctly felt.

I say this a lot, but a good cookbook will always drive you to work on the short and long game of sustenance. It drums up a visceral response and allows you to fit the pieces together as you wish without compromise. Tara’s collection is one of well-visited recipes that are precisely executed, but also perfectly relaxed at the same time. And I’m not just saying this because Tara is local to me and I’ve got a serious case of hometown pride. (except I totally do)

In the recipe notes, Tara talks about how these crispy vegetable pakora treats drew anticipation from onlookers and essentially made her family home cool-kid-central when she was young. I can totally understand why. The batter is puffy, soft, crispy, and salty around those tender vegetables. When I first saw the photo, I assumed that eggs or white flour were involved, but it’s all in the whisking of a dead simple chickpea flour batter (seriously, is there anything chickpea flour can’t do? My favourite brand is this one). I made her bright and sharp green chutney to go with these and once I started nibbling, I could not stop my little fingers from reaching in for another piece. So delicious and even better with an ice cold libation. Cheers, Tara!

Tarapin it!Tarapin it!Tarapin it!Tarapin it!Tarapin it!Tarapin it!Tarapin it!
Tara’s crispy vegetable pakoras w/ fresh green chutney recipe
from Tara O’Brady’s Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day
print recipe here!
serves: 4-6
notes: Before anyone asks, I haven’t tried baking these and I can’t say that I’m really open to it either. These are a “treat yo self” sorta thing :) Also, I’ve identified the vegetables that I used, but Tara also suggests par-boiled slices of beet, ripped pieces of kale, cauliflower florets, and Asian eggplant.

crispy vegetable pakora ingredients:
About 2 1/2 pounds mixed vegetables, cleaned + trimmed (I used 1/4 inch slices of sweet potatoes from 1 medium sized tuber, a bunch-worth of asparagus spears + rings of red onion from 1 onion)
1 cup chickpea flour
1-2 small fresh chiles, seeded + minced
1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
oil for frying (I used sunflower)

fresh green chutney ingredients:
1 granny smith apple, cored + chopped
2 tsp water (+ extra if necessary)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 green chiles, seeded + chopped
1/4 tsp natural cane sugar (I used maple sugar)

Prepare your vegetables: snap off the woody bottom end of asparagus spears. Cut the sweet potato down the middle lengthwise, leaving the peel on. From here, cut 1/4 inch slices from the halves. Cut the red onion into 1/2 inch rings and separate the layers into individual rings. Set all vegetables aside while you make the batter.

In a large bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, minced chiles, cilantro, and salt. Slowly whisk in enough water until the batter resembles the viscosity of heavy cream (or coconut milk for all the plant-lovers teehee). Beat the batter well, until the texture is lightened and there are foamy bubbles around the edge.

Line a large baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels. Flip a cooling rack upside down (so the feet are in the air) and place it on top of the paper towels. In a heavy pot, pour in enough oil to rise up the sides about 5 inches. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F. You can test the oil by dropping some teeny batter coated scraps in there. If they bubble up and float, all’s good.

Take a solid handful of the onion rings and stir them about in the chickpea batter to coat. Pick up a clump of the rings with a fork and shake off the excess batter back into the bowl. Carefully lower the battered clump of onions into the oil. Fry until lightly golden on one side, about 30-40 seconds. Flip the onions over and cook until golden and crisp on the other side, about 30 seconds. Remove pakoras from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on the prepared cooling rack. Season vegetables with salt.

Repeat this process with the remaining vegetables, coating them in the batter individually and ensuring that you don’t overcrowd the pan. The sweet potatoes took a little bit of extra time for me. Keep battering, frying, flipping, and salting until all of the vegetables are used up.

For the fresh green chutney: combine all ingredients in an upright blender and blend on high until you have a smooth, but lightly textured sauce. You may have to add a bit of extra water and do some scraping down of the blender pitcher to get to that point.

Serve pakoras hot with the fresh green chutney and some tomato ketchup doctored up with a little hot sauce. Lime wedges on the side are a good idea too.

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  • valentina | sweet kabocha21/05/2015 - 4:19 am

    I’m not really into fried food, but this is absolutely a great idea for colder months – macrobiotics says that frying is a good thing in winter to heat the body – and I’m sure everybody would love it!ReplyCancel

  • jessica @ bakecetera21/05/2015 - 6:20 am

    you just fried chive blossoms !! you are now my favourtie person.ReplyCancel

    • Laura22/05/2015 - 11:58 am

      They were really good! Maybe a touch delicate for this preparation, but still tasty :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Victoria21/05/2015 - 6:41 am

    Wow Laura, your photography here is awesome!!!ReplyCancel

    • Liesel21/05/2015 - 9:12 am

      Ditto!! Simply beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Emilie21/05/2015 - 7:11 am

    Agreed! Eating for pleasure first and oh, I’m all in for anything ‘chickpea’. Maybe I can even get my kids to try these, minus the chutney, substitute the jam.ReplyCancel

    • Laura22/05/2015 - 11:57 am

      It’s suuuper kid-friendly (at least the big kid in me thinks so)! I feel like you could batter and fry any vegetable and kids would gobble it up :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • dorota @ plants on the plate21/05/2015 - 7:16 am

    those look amazing, and i guess treating yourself every now and then is well just a normal part of life. i grew up eating cauliflower fried in beer batter, the only way my little brother and i would allow this vegetable onto our plates, and i would sure try this pakora with tiny white florets, but i must say, frying eggplant sounds heavenly as well, i can imagine how velvet-y it has to become.
    also, your kitchen looks so serene on those photos. and cookbook collection envy over here hehe.
    have a good day!ReplyCancel

    • Laura22/05/2015 - 11:55 am

      Deep frying was the only method that would get me to eat cauliflower when I was young too :) And yes!, any time eggplant is fried the texture is just so irresistible. I can’t wait to try this recipe again when I have some eggplants in my garden. Thanks for your kind words on my kitchen too!
      -LReplyCancel

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan21/05/2015 - 9:14 am

    I’m with ya, if you are going to fry it..just fry it! I keep reading about how awesome Tara’s book is so I just need to get it already!ReplyCancel

    • Laura22/05/2015 - 11:53 am

      Can we get twin teeshirts that say “JUST FRY IT”??? xoReplyCancel

  • Ashley21/05/2015 - 9:16 am

    STUNNING! You captured such beauty in this recipe. Love love.ReplyCancel

  • Keara McGraw21/05/2015 - 10:01 am

    Laura, these photos are beyond! A beautiful display of some kitchen storytelling in real time. Love. I too share a fascination with chickpea flower… brownies?! pancakes?! fritters?! So frickin versatile. Will definitely have to add these pakoras to the to-do list (as well as snagging a copy of Tara’s book).ReplyCancel

  • Sarah | Well and Full21/05/2015 - 11:45 am

    I love how the batter is made without eggs!! I haven’t really worked with chickpea flower that much, so I didn’t realize it was so binding. And your photos are absolutely brilliant, I love how you style your shots! XoReplyCancel

  • Jessica DeMarra21/05/2015 - 12:44 pm

    Hometown pride indeed! I am also from Niagara (currently living in Toronto) and reading the Globe & Mail article and the mention of butter tarts at an Avondale made me a little nostalgic. I am a lover of fried foods, my ultimate guilty pleasure, but usually (try) to shy away from it. This recipe I refuse to shy away from and I will eat my fill without an ounce of guilt but plenty of sauce.ReplyCancel

    • Laura22/05/2015 - 8:04 am

      Yes! The article was so great. Waving hello from Niagara :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Abby21/05/2015 - 2:22 pm

    This post is incredible, Laura! Your photos are so stunning – you have such a gift, and that light is amazing.
    Tara’s book looks lovely, and this recipe! Yum! <3ReplyCancel

  • Anna21/05/2015 - 2:39 pm

    absolutely love this!! amazing :)

    https://aspoonfulofnature.wordpress.com/ReplyCancel

  • Claudia22/05/2015 - 6:31 am

    Disapointed I cant find any way of printing this to try it. The print buttons both in my email and this page just lead to a dead end as it is unreadable and ctrl P would print everything but the recipe, sigh another dissapointment in life.ReplyCancel

    • Laura22/05/2015 - 8:02 am

      Hi Claudia,
      I’m sorry that you’re disappointed by this. I find it strange that the Google document for printing leads to a dead end for you. Even after signing out of my google/gmail account and clearing the cache, I was able to access the recipe document on two devices… I will look into this. If you have a word processing program or even a simple note program on your computer, you could always copy + paste in the meantime I suppose?ReplyCancel

    • Edlyn01/06/2015 - 1:25 am

      Hi Claudia, I’m not sure if this helps or not but select the recipe + instructions using your cursor. Then hit Ctrl P and when the window for print options comes up, select “Print selection” from the list. Hope this helps for next time.ReplyCancel

  • clara22/05/2015 - 9:14 am

    Your recipes are delicious, food presentation lovely and dishes scrumptious!ReplyCancel

  • Sherrie22/05/2015 - 11:05 am

    Laura, these words and photos are so captivating, I love everything about this. Tara’s book sure is a real stunner, and I really need to set some more time aside to spend with it. All my love, all the time, xo!ReplyCancel

    • Laura22/05/2015 - 11:53 am

      Hope you get a little cookbook browsin’ time over the holiday weekend babe :) xoxoxReplyCancel

  • […] about. 2. This cake may not be the prettiest, but it looks hella tasty. 3. I could feast on these crispy vegetable pakoras all day, every day. 4. Popcorn, rice crackers, soy sauce, butter, sugar!? Yes please, hurricane […]ReplyCancel

  • Grace22/05/2015 - 3:14 pm

    Dang Laura, it’s like that page in Tara’s book just came bursting to life with rich color and story! The “treat yo self” song will be playing in my head for the rest of the day and the urge to make that fresh green chutney again is taking over, gah, isn’t it the best?! Gorgeous post and recipe to celebrate a beautiful book! Love!ReplyCancel

  • Kasey22/05/2015 - 6:27 pm

    My eye was totally drawn to this recipe, too (how could it not be?) Absolutely stunning execution, Laura.ReplyCancel

  • lynsey | lynseylovesfood.com22/05/2015 - 8:15 pm

    oh this reminds me of the little shop across the street from me when i lived in japan with all there bounty of tempura. i was such a sucker for pumpkin but these little spring delights are totally feeding my eyes! xoReplyCancel

  • […] Veggie pakoras! […]ReplyCancel

  • Sara24/05/2015 - 10:52 am

    Hi Laura, I really love your website but it takes FOREVER to load… I’ve tried it on my phone, laptop, and work computer and it loads really slowly every time. I think it may be because of all the ads on the side? Which is unfortunate, because you have a really great website.ReplyCancel

    • Laura24/05/2015 - 4:06 pm

      Hi Sara, I’ve recently had an analysis run on the site for speed and it’s a bunch of underlying issues with the site’s theme and the images. Even without the ads in place, it ran just as slow. I’m in the process of fixing this though. Sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime.
      -LReplyCancel

  • Kate24/05/2015 - 7:36 pm

    This sounds so good! I’ve never tried working with chickpea flour, but I’m going to pick some up and make this. I too will eat just about anything fried. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn26/05/2015 - 4:11 am

    I am basically terrified of anything involving hot oil but I’ve been trying to work up the confidence to make this ever since I flipped through the pages of Tara’s book (and yes, to everything that you say about it here). And ps, your photos are absolutely stunning, as ever.ReplyCancel

  • Lily | Kale & Caramel26/05/2015 - 4:51 pm

    YES to frying (I actually need to learn how! maybe I’ll start here) and YES to the magic of chickpea flour! I once dated a very groovy type dude who swore by everything chickpea. He also played the tamboura like 23 out of 24 hours in the day. But I digress. These are gorgeous—cannot wait to try them and explore Seven Spoons! Hope you’re having a sweet week, Laura <3. xo's from LA.ReplyCancel

  • Bec29/05/2015 - 11:03 pm

    These look fantastic!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Harrie30/05/2015 - 6:15 am

    This is making me so hungry! I’m for sure going to try this recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food30/05/2015 - 3:46 pm

    Everything in Tara’s book is stunning. I’ve fallen totally in love with every recipe and now I have this one to add to my list of things to make. Also, can I just tell you that I have kitchen envy? We’re figuring out what to do with renovating it… in the meantime, it’s small and dated (yet still functioning). :-)ReplyCancel

  • Edlyn01/06/2015 - 1:31 am

    This is one of those recipes my dad made for us on random days for tea time (3-4pm) when we were kids. It was my most favourite thing in the world and has always made me enjoy pakoras (or what we called bhajiyas) with zero-guilt. I was going to write a story/recipe about it sometime soon when the inspiration hit. I’m glad to see you have done it and done it well. Your plate looks happy and I’m sure you were too. Thank you for doing this crazy blogging thing so damn honestly.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley L. Basla07/06/2015 - 11:12 am

    These look amazing! I have to try them. I never thought to use asparagus. Recently I was diagnosed with celiac’s and this is a great way to add crunch without using white flour. http://www.sugarpeel.comReplyCancel

  • chloe08/06/2015 - 11:44 am

    i wasn’t hungry when I started reading this post, but now I’m STARVING ;)
    i will definitely be trying this recipe out soon!
    xox
    chloe
    http://popcosmo.comReplyCancel

  • […] I served mine alongside these vegetable pakoras. […]ReplyCancel

  • Mahee Ferlini11/06/2015 - 1:12 am

    I could almost see how crispy and tasty these great vegetables were! Thanks for the recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda18/08/2015 - 10:56 pm

    I love your entire website! This recipe is beautiful and while I want to try it with the chickpea flour, I was wondering if you could use coconut flower or some other non-legume flour and yield similar results? I’m not sure if an alternate flour would work as well? Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laura19/08/2015 - 4:06 pm

      Hi Amanda, I haven’t tried this with anything other than chickpea flour, unfortunately. A coconut flour version may work, although I am a little skeptical since it tends to be very, very drying. You’d have to use much less. I’ve heard some great things on the workability of cassava flour, if you can find it!ReplyCancel

  • […] 2009 Location: BC, Canada Posts: 15,178 Crispy vegetable pakoras with green chutney: http://thefirstmess.com/2015/05/…akoras-recipe/ Recipe: http://www.elephantasticvegan.com/cr…iracha-swirls/ Vegan Snickerdoodle Cupcakes: […]ReplyCancel

  • Parvathy11/07/2016 - 4:55 am

    Made me nostalgic about the pakoras my mom used to make. Sometimes instead of all these veg, my mom makes them with just onions…ReplyCancel

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