Move over Kale, cauliflower took your spot. Yes, the vegetable that tormented my younger years with its offensive pong is back! Any farm-to table restaurant will have cauliflower purees (replacing mashed-potatoes) ,roasted cauliflower, cauliflower crusted pizza bases – there is no end to where this vegetable is going.
All this talk of cauliflower did bring one dish back to life for me; cauliflower pakora – the Indian fritter. Pakoras are veggies that are submerged in a batter of chickpea flour (besan) and then dunked in hot oil until they are crunchy and golden on the outside whilst perfectly steaming the vegetable from the inside.
This is a great dish when made correctly. Yes, many of us have been victim to those cheaply made, thickly battered bread-like pakoras with a sliver of a vegetable inside. We then complain of heartburn. Have this in a native’s home and the experience is pleasantly light and crunchy. They key is to make the batter thick enough so that it coats the cauliflower like a veneer and not a lick of paint.
To ensure maximum crunchness, add a tablespoon of rice flour if you have it on hand. Not a traditional ingredient for pakoras, but go the extra mile and you will be serving-up the Porsche of all pakoras.
The next thing to look out for is the oil. If it’s too hot, the florets will fry up super fast not giving the cauliflower a chance to steam and making the batter taste bitter and burnt. If it’s not hot enough, the pakora will become dense with oil and totally greasy and limp (and that’s when deep frying is given a bad name).
To serve these pakoras, why not become fully authentic and reach for you bottle of ketch-up. That’s the way it’s eaten behind closed doors in most Indian homes.
Recipe for Cauliflower Florets
- 1 medium-sized cauliflower, separated in to florets
- 2 shallots, diced
- 5 tbsp. chickpea flour
- 1 tbsp. rice flour
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp. ginger, grated
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ½ tsp. dried mint (optional)
- Oil for frying
1) Make the batter by mixing the flours, water and salt
2) Toss the cauliflower with the remaining ingredients. Add the batter to coat the cauliflower and shallots
3) Spoon 5 individual tablespoons of the mixture in to the hot oil to make 5 balls – keep rotating in the oil. Remove once golden brown and drain on paper towels