This morning I was vigourously rubbed with besan (chickpea flour) for an hour; later on the day I had oil gently brushed across my forehead for another 45 minutes: I felt like a human pakora.
I also felt very relaxed and well after receiving the treatments described above as they have been carried out on me in an idyllic ‘auyvedic palace’ in Kerala called Kalari Kovilakom. I will write more about this in future blogs as I have eaten some great food here but in the meantime take a look at the website www.cghearth.com.
The pakora analogy really took shape for me when I stepped in the shower to wash off the oil and discovered that the potion I was given to scrub myself was made from green split peas. I often make fish pakoras and serve them with a green pea dip/relish… I can feel a recipe coming on….
To make good pakoras don’t be stingy with the oil when cooking them. These are deep fried so if you are going to make them just accept it. Actually if you deep fry properly the food doesn’t absorb very much oil and the fish is steamed within its casing.
To give these pakoras a fighting chance:
1. have enough oil to cover the food you are frying
2. have the oil at the right temperature – test by dropping a small amount of batter into the oil, if it sizzles and browns and crisps up quickly then it is ready to go. Unless you have a deep fryer with a thermometer you will to adjust the heat if the oil gets too hot or looses heat.
3. Don’t put too many pieces into the oil at once. This will lower the temperature of the oil.
Fish pakoras with green pea dip
500g flathead fillets or other firm fish
2 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
1 tbsp cornflour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp red chili powder or to taste
½ tsp ajwain seeds*
juice of one lemon
½ cup water
Oil for deep frying
Mix all the ingredients for the batter together until smooth and thick. Leave the batter to sit for 30 minutes (in the meantime make the green pea dip – see recipe below).
Cut the fish into 10 cm pieces. Pat dry with paper towel.
Heat some oil in a deep fryer, wok or large, deep saucepan.
Dip the fish into the batter and fry for about 4-5 minutes until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel. Serve hot with the green pea dip.
Green pea dip
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp mustard oil or other vegetable oil such as sunflower or peanut (preferably not olive oil)
1 -2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
250 gms peas (fresh or frozen)
squeeze of lemon or lime juice
Dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds and grind in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder.
Heat the oil in a karhai, work or saucepan over a medium high heat. When the oil is hot add the ginger and stir for 3o seconds. Pour in a little of the stock (this will spit a little) and cook the ginger for another 30 seconds. Add salt to taste, sugar, the paprika and stir. Add a little more stock and allow to cook out until you have a loose paste. Stir in the ground spices and the paprika and then the peas. Mix the peas in and make sure they are well coated with the spices mix and then pour in the stock.
Allow the peas to cook in the stock at a reasonably rapid simmer until they are tender. Don’t cover the pot as you want to stock to reduce somewhat but not to dry out.
When the peas are cooked remove the pot from the stove, decant the mix into a bowl and allow to cool slightly. Blend the spiced peas to a rough paste with a bamix or in food processor or blender. Adjust the flavour with the lemon/lime juice and serve with the pakoras.