Here’s a slight twist on a classic Indian appetizer. Usually, pakodas (also called pakoras) are spiced chickpea-batter dipped pieces of vegetables or meat; a denser version of tempura. This recipe is an attempt to recreate one of the items sold at the sweets store in Bangalore that my mom frequents. Unlike the traditional pakodas, these stay crisp for a few days in an air tight container and can be made a day or two ahead of your party.
Cashew Nut Pakodas
- 2 cups cashew nuts – roasted
- 1 cup besan (chickpea/gram flour)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp rice flour
- 1 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne)
- 1 large onion – chopped fine
- 2 green chillies – chopped fine
- 1 sprig curry leaves – chopped fine
- Salt to taste (about 1 tsp)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
- 3 Tbsp ghee / Crisco** – (optional) – melted & warm
- Oil for frying
1) In a medium bowl, mix all the above ingredients (EXCEPT cashews and ghee) with your hands, pressing on the onions with your fingers. The dough will be sticky and dry, but that’s okay. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, if using unroasted cashews, use a heavy bottom wide pan, and dry roast the nuts on a medium flame, stirring frequently. This should take about 5-7 minutes. The nuts should be lightly roasted – a bite test will show that they are just beginning to get a snap to them. Remember that will be get crispier as they cool.
3) Alternately, preheat the oven to 350* F and roast the nuts on a large tray for about 7-10 minutes, stirring them every few minutes. Allow the nuts to cool completely. If you are using roasted cashews, skip steps 2/3 and move directly to step 4.
4) When the nuts are completely cooled, remix the batter with your hands. The onions would have released moisture and made the batter softer and easier to handle. Add the nuts and ghee** and mix well. If you must, sprinkle a few drops of water as necessary and mix. DO NOT ADD EXTRA MOISTURE AS THIS WILL MAKE THE PAKODAS & NUTS SOGGY.
4) Heat oil in a pan on medium, and drop little clumps of the cashew nut batter. Fry, stirring occasionally, till it is golden. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain oil completely. Serve warm or cool completely and store in an air tight container for a couple of days.
5) To reheat, spread on a cookie sheet and warm in a 325*F oven for a few minutes.
** NOTE: Adding melted ghee or Crisco is said to make the fried food crispier. You may omit it if you don’t want to use it.