As your average western white boy, the language of Indian cuisine can only be described as confusing even at the best of times. What is true is that there appear to be very few firm rules, and any rules such as they are exist in a purely regional variation not to be confused with dialect, more about interpretation.
Let me explain, walk into any indian restaurant and you will find the ubiquitous Onion Bhajee on the menu often presented as something that is about the same size as a tennis ball and is usually made from finely grated onion dipped in a batter, with a few spices, deep fried and simply delicious, usually served as a starter which sort of begs the question.
So what is an Onion Pakora then?
Well from what I can see they are exactly the same but not formed into a ball shape but certainly onion in batter…..
To try and clarify this I spoke to an indian chef friend of mine and his teaching and wisdom is as follows.
Firstly that a Bhaji is any vegetable cut into small pieces and dipped into Gram (chickpea) flour and then deep-fried, and not forgetting that there is no spicing whatsoever in a bhaji…..Which sorta bears no comparison to the “Onion Bhaji of the restaurant, apart from the fact its onion….
Bhaji’s are also usually eaten with sambar or chutneys depending on what you prefer.
He went on to say that Pakora on the other hand is a much wider description and can include protein rather than just vegetable, meat, fish and shellfish, alongside vegetable, are all acceptable; as a general rule the Pakora also includes spices, chilli, turmeric, salt, pepper etc are all common, added to gram flour and a little water and sometimes an egg to create a thick batter that is usually refrigeratated before use, and then mixed with the main ingredients, formed into a ball and then fried….. So there you have it an Onion Bhaji is therefore really a Pakora as they contain Turmeric, salt, pepper, chlli, etc
confused…. yeah so am I
Well to clarify a little as I understand it, in England anything pretty much fried in Gram flour can be called what you want to call it Pakora or Bhaji, neither is incorrect or wrong!
Anyone out there with greater knowledge feel free to correct me…But at the risk of starting something new I am proud to present my attempt at being right I herewith present the BHAKORA, in that it contains elements of the Pakora and bhaji bought together as one.
I am staying fairly traditional on the batter front using gram flour, but for the filling I have gone sorta fusion so onion and sweet potato as one of the main ingredients, and for the other, the truly delicious cheese Bhakora for which I used the same batter, but rolled them into a nice mouthful sized, just short of a golf ball diameter and fried them in my deep fat fryer at 180 degrees which seemed to do the cooking perfectly, not too fast and not too slow….
So Pakora Bhaji or Bhakora whatever you choose to call them I care not, just enjoy these little bundles of deliciousness
Onion & sweet potato “Bhakora”:)
half of one sweet potato
Both grated and mixed roughly together or if you prefer some protein, 250 gms of Mature for that extra cheesy kick I used Canadian Cheddar grated for
Whatever filling you choose to use for your Pakora, Bhaji, or Bhakora the batter is the key element get this right and pretty much everything else follows, feel free to adjust the seasoning and spicing on this recipe to suit your own taste just remember to stay loyal to the flour quantities and to mix it to a thick consistency. That is achieved by adding a little water at a time and mixing by hand though the lumpy stage and then the smooth stage that is perhaps just that little thicker that wallpaper paste:)…… now there’s an analogy. Also consider that vegetables like onion contain a lot of water which will further thin your batter so don’t worry if you think the batter is too thick when you add the veg it will thin further still…….so no worries there then
250 gms : Gram Flour
50 gms: Plain Flour
.5 tsp: baking Powder
1 Large green chilli Very Finely Chopped
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp salt
Enough water to make a thick batter
If your going for the cheese Ball variety wet your hands before you roll them , as it makes it a bit easier…… that said enjoy !