You have no idea how much stuff you can amass over time until you move. I prided myself on not collecting too much but clearly I’ve been entertaining an imaginary notion. I also felt satisfied with the thought that perhaps, I had done a superb job of tossing stuff out before the movers came by the house to pack and move our stuff. Clearly, I’ve been wrong on both fronts as it took them several rounds to get everything packed, wrapped and loaded onto their truck. Not everything and could go with them and they had to leave behind some liquids, aerosols and my beloved plants. Yes, my plants were the hardest to part with, I decided to give them away to friends and family and I will miss my fig trees and raspberry bush and will settle with the thought, that I might be able to grow some variety of citrus out in California and perhaps get another fig tree. I also ended up with a bottle of oil that I couldn’t ship and really didn’t want to drive across the country with. So this recipe that I’m sharing with you today was clearly borne out of necessity and is a tasty way to clean out your pantry.
Let’s see, I got rid of a little leftover unused chickpea flour and some spices and some vegetable oil but I also got an excuse to use up these beautiful red mustard greens that I picked up last week. Red mustard greens actually have very little red in them, just a few dark streaks here and there but they are simple gorgeous and they look like big, fat elephant ears or fans that can hold their texture rather well during heating.
Pakoras are a favorite Indian snack that I grew up eating for breakfast. To put it simply, a pakora can be made with almost any type of vegetable that’s coated in a chickpea batter and then deep fried to get a delicious crispy cover. Since, I rarely make anything that’s deep fried this was a welcome change for both of us (and the moving excuse made me feel better), it’s always nice to indulge your tastebuds, a little bit sometimes. So go ahead make these guys and enjoy them with my sweet tamarind chaat chutney and a hot cup of tea/chai.
red mustard green pakoras
yields: 4-6 servings
1 bunch fresh red mustard greens
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
1 cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin, ground
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon grated ginger root, fresh
3 cups vegetable oil for deep frying
1. Wash the mustard greens, drain the excess water and pat the leaves dry using a clean kitchen towel. Remove and discard the midrib of the leaves. Rip the leaves into large pieces and keep aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients from the chickpea flour to the ginger root. Whisk until completely smooth and there are no visible flecks of flour in the batter.
3. Add the leaves into the chickpea batter and fold until the leaves are completely coated.
4. Heat the oil in a large wok on medium high heat. The oil needs to be hot when frying the leaves, to test this take one leaf that is coated with the batter and drop it into the hot oil. It should immediately rise to the surface and cook until golden brown. Add 5 to 6 leaves at a time to the hot oil, cook until the chickpea batter coating turns golden brown, flip the leaves using a slotted spoon and cook on the other side. The entire cooking process should take less than a minute for each leaf. Using the slotted spoon, lift the pakoras and drain any excess oil, transfer the pakoras to a dish lined with clean paper towels to absorb the excess oil. The mustard green pakoras should be crisp. Repeat and cook the rest of the pakoras in batches. Serve immediately while hot.
Note: If you cook the pakoras too long the leaves will acquire a bitter taste, so remove them as soon as they start to change color.