Returning home to cold, damp weather and heavy snow, I just couldn’t bring myself to make regular dinner. One thing repeatedly sounded in my mind-Gobi Pakoras(cauliflower fritters). Read on not only for a delhi winter/rain staple, but also for my 5 tips on the best way to deep fry. My other tip- a secret ingredient in Indian cooking you simply have to try for its delicious flavour.
2 cups cauliflower florets, washed
1 ½ cups chick pea flour
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mango powder
1 tsp crushed carom seeds
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp chopped green hot pepper
¼ tsp regular salt
Black salt to sprinkle on top
2 cups Grapeseed oil
|Serves 4Pots n pans
Wok or fry pan
• Wash, rinse and separate cauliflower florets. Set aside.
• Measure chickpea flour in pan. Add all the spices except black salt. Mix flour with about ¾ cup water to remove any lumps. Texture should be like slightly runny cake batter.
• Heat oil in fry pan. When it starts to smoke, dip florets in batter and float in oil gently. Flip over when underside is golden and let cook on other side.
• Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat till all florets are used up.
• Spread pakoras on serving plate.
• Sprinkle with black salt and serve hot with ginger clove chai.
Black salt/rock salt or kala namak comes from the himalayan mountains. Not to be confused with lava salt or Himalayan pink salt. Black salt crystals appear black in colour, and are usually ground to a fine powder which are pink in colour. It helps people with high blood pressure and for those on low-salt diets, as its low in sodium doesn’t increase sodium content in the blood. Its considered a cooling spice in Ayruveda and often features as a digestive aid. Black salt is used a lot in northern indian cooking for vegetarians to be able to experience the forbidden flavour of eggs! Available in indian grocery stores, low in sodium content, add just a little to your food as too much can create a sulphurous taste. I just love to sprinkle its piquant flavour on cut fruit or on pakoras for added punch.
Deep frying process
Food contains water & moisture. Drop food in hot oil and the moisture converts to steam. Steam & oil don’t mix, but steam has to release. Where does it go –forms a wrapper around food to prevent more oil from entering food. Simultaneously, food browns creating a crisp exterior, the crust acts like a protective barrier keeping oil out and seals the heat so food cooks inside.
My 5 tips for better deep frying
1. The right temperature is really important – about 375 F or 190 C. How can you tell without a thermometer? Its that point when oil is heated to a point just before it starts smoking. If you go lower, food will drink oil and if you go higher, you’ll get a crispy outside but a soggy uncooked interior.
2. The right oil – Deep frying being a high temperature process needs oil with a high smoke point. (no olive oil or any oil that smokes at a low temperature, also stay away from oils with strong fragrances which will compete with your food. I use Grapeseed oil). Here’s a nice chart on Wiki showing smoke points of various oils.
3. The right surface area to cover in oil – don’t crowd your frying pan else food will drink oil, not get crispy outside and stay uncooked internally.
4. The right disposal– throw away the oil after one use. Its extremely unhealthy to reuse, besides it will also taste a bit off.
5. The right batter –Mix batter just before use so it uses less oil. If you make batter the day before and refrigerate, it may be a timesaver, but the batter will simply drink oil.
If you follow these simple tips, you’ll find that you end up using just 1-2 tbsp of oil for this big batch of pakoras. Try it out, if you don’t believe this. Measure your oil before and after deep frying to confirm for yourself.
Hope you enjoyed this post. If you can think of any of your own tips please do share.