Cauliflower pakoras with tamarind raita
These irresistible morsels make a great canapé, but they are also very good alongside or before a curry. Eat them with your fingers, as soon as they’re cool enough to pick up: the contrast between the hot, spicy pakoras and the cold, slightly sour yoghurt is delicious. If tamarind paste is not to hand, use mango chutney, or any spicy-sweet fruit chutney, instead.
For the raita, mix all the ingredients together, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Cut the cauliflower into small florets, no more than 2cm across in any direction, discarding nearly all the stalk.
For the batter, put the gram flour, baking powder, ground spices and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine and get rid of any lumps. Slowly whisk in 175ml cold water, which should give you a smooth batter with a similar consistency to double cream. Add a little more water if necessary – different brands of gram flour will vary in how much they absorb.
Add the cauliflower florets to the batter and turn them, making sure they are all thoroughly coated.
Heat about a 1cm depth of oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough to turn a cube of white bread light golden brown in 30–40 seconds, start cooking the pakoras, a few at a time so you don’t crowd the pan. Place spoonfuls of battered cauliflower – just a few florets per spoonful – into the hot oil. Cook for about 2 minutes, until crisp and golden brown on the base, then turn over and cook for another minute or two.
Drain the pakoras on kitchen paper, then serve piping hot with the raita for dipping.
Flat onion bhajis
Make the batter as above, but use 3 medium onions or 2 dozen spring onions instead of the cauliflower. Slice the onions fairly thinly and stir into the batter, making sure they’re well coated. Heat the oil as above and fry spoonfuls of the onions in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan, for about 4 minutes, turning halfway through, until crisp and golden. Serve immediately, with the raita.
- 1 medium-large cauliflower (about 800g), trimmed
- Sunflower oil, for frying
For the batter
- 150g gram flour (chickpea flour)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- A good shake of cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
For the tamarind raita
- 6 heaped tablespoons plain (full-fat) yoghurt
- A large handful of coriander, chopped (optional)
- 2 teaspoons tamarind paste or mango chutney
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
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Who needs meat? Learn to turn local, seasonal produce into delicious veggie dishes at the River Cottage Cookery School