I made Pakoras for the students in the Geography Club. It is usually a good way of introducing them to spices and talking about India and other landmarks. However, today we were talking about Europe, and I was feeling under weather, so I could not raise my voice. How does one get attention without raising her/his voice in a class of 35+ kids is a mystery.
Anyways, the teacher came to my rescue. Even then it felt like a slow day. An attempt at tracing the countries in the Balkan Peninsula yielded meager results with a sole mention of Greece. Another attempt to trace the river Danube did not get beyond Romania.
A short snack break of Pakoras with tamarind chutney yielded major results. Especially, when the students knew they could get seconds for the correct answer. The highest point in Europe was named – Mt Elburz, lowest point as well – Volga river delta. Even the largest Lake Ladoga and the longest river Volga in Russia were named with aplomb. The Iberian Peninsula, Scandinavian Peninsula and the Ural Mountains along with the Pyrenees were traced and so was the Balkan Peninsula. Yes more countries were named now, as I heard Macedonia, Hungary, Slovenia and Yugoslavia at the very least.
What more? On my way out, I heard the Geography students having discussions on spices and various other dishes that had tickled their taste buds. Nothing like food to spice things up! I am tempted to get more food.
What is a Pakora?
Pakora is an Indian snack that is best had on a rainy day with hot masala chai ( tea). The main ingredient is Garbanzo bean flour. This flour is rich in protein and happens to be gluten free. The veggies can be varied as desired. But the combination of spinach, onions and bell peppers is easy to chop and has the right mix of crunch and flavor.
Dull rainy days and Pakoras go hand-in-hand. Indian – Punjabi hospitality demands a pakora, especially for guests that visit your house in the evenings. I don’t remember how and when I started making them, but it was a gradual process. We always ate homemade pakoras, also a very simple way of getting rid of leftover vegetables. There was a guy, who stood around the street corner making pakoras, but it never occurred to any of us to buy or even taste them. I could expect my mother to say that homemade was always better, and that the guy on the street would most likely be using stale oil, or dirty hands or rotten vegetables.
I usually, like to make pakoras with spinach and onions. However, today, I chose to make them with boiled potatoes instead, for the Geography club, as they stay crisp.
Pakoras – Recipe ( Makes 35 – 40)
1 1/2 cups garbanzo bean flour
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 teaspoon garam masala
5 med sized potatoes boiled
1/2 cup water
1 quart oil for deep frying
1. Mash the potatoes in a mixing bowl.
2. Add the flour, spices to them
3. Add ¼ c of water blend well, add more water and blend again.
[The batter prepared should be of uniform consistency]
4. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F (190 degrees C). in a heavy bottom pan
5. Drop tablespoons of batter in the oil.
6. Fry them in small batches until golden brown on med to med – high, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Another minute on each side, and drain on paper towels before serving.