Pakoras are famous in India, especially during Monsoon season. This baked version of pakoras is much healthier than the deep fried ones, without compromising on taste.
These baked version of pakoras are as addictive as the deep fried ones. It took me months to find the right quantities and techniques to perfect my baked pakoras. It was quite a journey to follow but I was desperate to find a healthier version. And I am so proud I did.
Every pakora fan knows the struggle. We either over indulge and feel guilty about it later, or we avoid having them altogether. But these lighter version will leave you feeling satisfied without the guilt.
But what’s the harm in deep frying?
In case you are wondering what could be the potential harm in deep frying, here is a short summary.
Studies have linked fried foods to serious health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Regular consumption of deep fried food may also increase the risk of obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The process of frying is known to alter the quality and increase the caloric content of food.
Fried foods are also typically high in trans fats, mainly because of the oils used in the process. Food manufacturers often hydrogenate fats to increase their shelf life and stability, but hydrogenation also occurs when oils are heated to very high temperatures during cooking.
Reheating oil changes the chemical structure of fats, making them difficult for your body to break down, which can ultimately lead to negative health effects. It is not economical to use healthy oils for frying (such as olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee etc) because you will be using a big amount and then throwing it off after frying.
Knowing about the health effects of deep frying, I was keen on finding a healthier alternative to making pakoras. With this baked version, you can enjoy crispy and delicious pakoras without the harmful affects of deep frying.
Can I skip onion in this recipe?
I often get asked whether onions can be skipped in this recipe. The answer is ‘No’.
You need a base for the flour to stick onto, and for the pakoras to retain their shape. I have tried to use cupcake moulds to pour my batter in and make the pakoras without using onion, but I didn’t like the results. They were dense and soggy and took way too long to cook.
Can I add these pakoras to kadhi or yogurt?
Yes, these pakoras can be used for making kadhi pakora or dahi pakora. They perfectly replace the baray or phulki in a much healthier way.
Can I make these in big batches and freeze for later consumption?
If you want to consume the pakoras on their own or with chutney, they are best served within a few minutes after being baked when they are warm and crispy.
But if you want to add them to your kadhi or yogurt to make dahi pakoras, they could be frozen. Put them into a ziplock bag or an air tight container and defrost by taking them out a few hours before you want to add them to your kadhi or yogurt.
What I like to do is make a big batch, consume about half of the pakoras warm and crispy. I freeze the other half to add to kadhi or yogurt later.
What ingredients will you need, their German names and where to buy them
- Besan (Gram flour) or Chickpea flour (Kichererbsenmehl): You can find it by the name Besan or gram flour at any Indian grocery store. If you do not have an Indian store nearby, you can replace besan with chickpea flour (Kicherebsenmehl) which you can find at any well stocked grocery store in Germany like Edeka, Rewe or at Alnatura and DM.
- Corn starch (Speisestärke): You can easily find corn starch with the name speisestärke at any grocery store in Germany.
- Red onion: I prefer using red onion over white or yellow ones for this recipe. Red onions have a sweeter taste and contains comparatively less amount of water.
- Green chilies: You can use any variety of green chilies based on your preferred spice level.
- Baking Soda (Kaiser natron): Baking soda is available by the name Kaiser Natron in the baking aisle (often in green pouches). DO NOT substitute it with baking powder (I have done that mistake myself) as it wouldn’t give same results.
- Red chili powder: Use any preferred kind of red chili powder based on your spice level. I used deggi red chili powder (bought from Indian grocery store).
- Turmeric Powder: Turmeric powder is available at well stocked grocery store in Germany by the name Kukurma.
- Rapeseed oil (Rapsöl) or Mustard oil: I use rapeseed oil (known as Rapsöl in German) for my recipe as it is easily available here. However, if mustard oil is available to you, use that for the recipe.
Baked Pakoras (Gram Flour Dumplings)
- 3 medium red onion (300 grams)
- 2-3 green chilies (adjust to preferred spice level)
- handful of fresh coriander or mint leaves (optional)
- ½ cup rapeseed oil (Rapsöl or mustard oil) (120 ml)
- ½-1 tsp red chili powder (adjust to preferred spice level)
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 cup Besan (gram flour) (135 grams)
- ¼ cup corn starch (30 grams)
- ¼ tsp baking soda (kaiser natron)
- 2-3 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- Peel and thinly slice the onion. Finely chop the green chilies and herbs (if using).
- Set the oven to preheat at 180° Celsius.
- Combine the onion, green chilies and herbs in a big bowl. Add ¼ cup of oil to it and reserve the other ¼ cup of oil for greasing later. Add the red chili powder, turmeric powder and salt to the onions. Coat the onion well with the spices and oil, separating the onion strands using your hands.
- Add the besan (gram flour), corn starch and baking soda to the bowl. Mix again to coat the onion with the dry ingredients.
- Add the lemon juice. Gradually add water (1 tbsp at a time) and mix well to make a thick batter. The batter should not be runny but well incorporated.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and grease it with oil using a brush or your hands. (you can also use spray oil to grease the parchment paper).Make several pakoras by placing about a tablespoon full of batter lightly on the tray (Do not press it too much). Place the pakoras a few centimetres apart from each other.
- Bake the pakoras in the preheated oven at 180° Celsius for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, take the pakoras out and brush them on the top with the remaining oil.
- Put them back in the oven and bake them for the 20 minutes. Increase the temperature to 220° Celsius in the last 2 minutes to make the pakoras extra crispy.
- Take out from the oven and rest for 2-3 minutes before serving warm with this spicy mint and coriander chutney.