I don’t know what is it about the rains and pyaaz pakoras. If you are in India during the monsoons, you’ll know what I mean. Showers almost invariably call for indian chai and hot pakoras- I guess we’re just celebrating the rains, so important for our crops. At this point, we are not really counting our calories and it’s tough to reach the point of taste satiation.
Looking through the window and seeing the showers takes my mind to the song by BJ Thomas, “Raindrops keep falling on my head”. I love every word of the song as much as the music. This song was released in 1969 and had won the Academy Award for the Best Original Song. True, I wasn’t even born then. I got introduced to the song through my mum and dad who used to keep humming this song (and actually most of the classics I know today are because of my parents and … “I thank you for the music…. for giving it to me (-Abba)“).
“Pyaaz”= Onion, “Pakora”= Fried crisps or fritters, are a delight. They’re best had hot and fresh. It has a simple batter made from “Besan” or Gram Flour salt, and couple of Indian spices. When I had initially tried making the pakoras at home, I used to add water to the flour to get a thickish consistency. After deep frying, my crispies weren’t as crisp as I wanted them to be. Back in my graduate study days, one of my friends made these pakoras and invited me over for a taste. So inquisitive was I to see how her pakoras got so crisp, I stormed into her kitchen and I remember I telling myself, “Aha! So that’s the trick“.
These flavorful onions, as we all know, are used in plentiful dishes. If you go to an Indian restaurant, you’ll often times find “Pickled onions” being served on the table, since they go very well with tandoori snacks and curry dishes. But, I, for one, have still not developed a taste for raw onions. That’s probably because when I was little, I bit into an onion slice and I didn’t very much like getting sprayed by the juice from the onion. Onions have a relatively high water content. And keeping this basic fact in mind, my friend had got her pakora just right. All you need to do is coat the cut onion slices with gram flour and leave undisturbed for a good 30 minutes- the water released from the onions does not necessitate you to add more water to make the batter.
What you need:
1/2 yellow onion (large), sliced
2 tbsp Gram Flour (Besan)
2 big pinches of Chaat Masala
Little Mirchi Powder (depending on how much heat you want in your pakoras)
1 tsp Coriander Powder
Salt to taste
Combine the onion slices and flour in a bowl. Sprinkle some salt on the onions (this will help release the water from the onion quicker). Let this rest for about 30 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Meanwhile, heat oil in a kadai (pan) for deep frying. You can check if the oil is ready for frying by just dropping a little batter in the oil. If it rises to the surface immediately, it your indication that the oil is hot enough for deep frying. Now, carefully drop the onions in to the hot oil and fry till they color changes to deep golden brown. Savor these with a hot cup of tea or your favorite chutney or tomato ketchup.