Fennel and onion pakoras

Fennel and onion pakoras

Acclaimed chef Aktar Islam, owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Opheem, shares his recipe for the best pakoras you’ll ever cook. Golden, light and crisp – these spiced fritters really hit the spot.

Fennel and onion pakoras

Aktar says: “I’ve used fennel, onion and potato in these pakoras, but you can use any veg – it’s a great recipe for using up veg peelings. The trick is not to bind the batter too tightly so it remains light and crisp. We’ve all had bhajis that were doughy in the middle, but these are almost like a tempura. My mum makes them really, really spicy, and with a sweet chutney the combo works beautifully.”

Check out Aktar’s rich and creamy paneer makhani.

  • Serves icon Serves 2-4 as a snack or side
  • Time icon Hands-on time 1 hour (less if not making the chutney)

Acclaimed chef Aktar Islam, owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Opheem, shares his recipe for the best pakoras you’ll ever cook. Golden, light and crisp – these spiced fritters really hit the spot.

Aktar says: “I’ve used fennel, onion and potato in these pakoras, but you can use any veg – it’s a great recipe for using up veg peelings. The trick is not to bind the batter too tightly so it remains light and crisp. We’ve all had bhajis that were doughy in the middle, but these are almost like a tempura. My mum makes them really, really spicy, and with a sweet chutney the combo works beautifully.”

Check out Aktar’s rich and creamy paneer makhani.

Nutrition: Per serving (for 4)

Calories
107kcals
Fat
3.6g (0.4g saturated)
Protein
3.9g
Carbohydrates
13g (2.5g sugars)
Fibre
2.3g
Salt
0.1g

Ingredients

  •  Handful fenugreek leaves, defrosted if frozen (optional; see Know How)
  • 3 small onions, finely sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, finely sliced
  • 2 new potatoes, cut into matchsticks
  • Bunch coriander, finely chopped
  •  ½ tsp ginger-garlic paste (see Know How)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 1 tsp panch phoran, toasted and crushed
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp tomato purée
  • Juice 1 lime
  • 1 small free-range egg, or 2 tbsp water to keep it vegan
  • 4 tbsp gram (or chickpea) flour, plus extra if needed
  • 2 tbsp cornflour, plus extra if needed
  • Vegetable oil to deep-fry
  • Chaat masala to sprinkle

For the chutney (optional)

  • 3 tbsp corn oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp chana dal (split chickpeas)
  • 2 tbsp urad dal (black lentils)
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 dried red chillies
  • Handful curry leaves
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5cm piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp deggi mirch (see Know How)
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped
  • Handful coriander stalks, chopped

Specialist kit

  • Thermometer
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Method

  1. Begin by making the chutney (if you’re skipping this, go to step 3). Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat, then add both dals, the mustard seeds and chillies. When the mustard seeds begin to pop and splutter,# add the curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the onions, salt, garlic and ginger, then cook gently, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes to soften the onions. Add the turmeric and deggi mirch with 1 tbsp water and cook for a minute, then add the tomatoes and coriander stalks. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down. Cool, then whizz in a blender until smooth.
  3. For the pakoras, wash the fenugreek leaves (if using) in running water, then drain in a sieve and squeeze with your hands to remove as much water as possible. Finely chop and sprinkle with salt.
  4. Put the fenugreek and the rest of the ingredients (except both flours, the oil and the chaat masala) in a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and mix, scrunching up the veg to release their liquid. Sprinkle in the flours gradually as you mix to create a thin batter that just coats the vegetables. You may need more of both flours, depending on how juicy your lime is – stop adding flour when the vegetables just cling together. The lighter your batter, the crispier the pakoras  will be.
  5. Fill a pan two-thirds full with vegetable oil and heat until it reads 160°C on the thermometer. Use your hands to form golf ball-size portions of the mixture – try to pack it together so it just holds rather than making it too dense. Gently lower the portions, in batches, into the hot oil with a metal slotted spoon – they should naturally release after a few moments. Deep-fry for about 5 minutes until golden and crisp, then drain on kitchen paper. Season with salt and chaat masala, then serve with chutney.

Nutrition

Calories
107kcals
Fat
3.6g (0.4g saturated)
Protein
3.9g
Carbohydrates
13g (2.5g sugars)
Fibre
2.3g
Salt
0.1g

delicious. tips

  1. Easy swaps You can serve these pakoras with a shop-bought chutney, but it’s worth giving this one a go.

  2. Frozen fenugreek leaves (also called methi) can be bought from Ocado, Morrisons and Asda, or you can get fresh or frozen from Indian grocers. Omit them if you can’t find any, but they do give the pakoras an incredible flavour.

    Ginger-garlic paste is a popular Indian shortcut – find it in large supermarkets and Indian grocers (or make your own using equal amounts of whizzed garlic and fresh ginger).

    Chaat masala is a sweet and sour spice blend available from Waitrose and Indian grocers.

    Deggi mirch is a mild, deep red chilli powder. Find it in Waitrose, online and in Indian grocers – or use kashmiri chilli powder.

Buy ingredients online

Recipe By

Aktar Islam

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