Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Mozarella Melt Pakoras

Pakoras are one of the most famous Indian snack foods. They are usually made from vegetables, paneer, chicken or bread that have been finely chopped or sliced, dipped into a batter made from gram flour, and then deep fried. As they are so easy to make and come in so many delicious varieties they are quite popular as starters or snacks at parties, or even as weekend dinner treats for the family.

Growing up as part of an (extremely) large extended family, and with pakoras being one of my Grandmother's favourite foods, I have been lucky enough to enjoy all sorts of pakoras in different flavours, shapes and sizes, on more than my fair share of occasions!

With these wonderful morsels being such a go-to item, in our house at least, we have settled on just a few of our favourite varieties - potato, onion, chilli and fenugreek - that we hardly ever deviate from which is a shame as they are so versatile. Bearing this in mind, last weekend I went on a bit of a mission to create a couple of new varieties, just to break up the norm. Admittedly, the two that I came up with take a bit more time and effort than the usual chop-dip-fry method but on a special occasion, or when you'd just like to try something different, they are definitely worth giving a go.
Here's the first recipe - mashed potato pakoras (known to us at home as 'bateta wada'), with a mozzarella melt middle, enjoy! :)

Mozzarella Melt Pakoras (makes about 20)

500g Potatoes
2 teaspoons Salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon Chilli Flakes
1/2 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
Juice of half a Lemon
1 tablespoon Sugar
50g Mozzarella
200ml Sunflower Oil
For the batter:
150g Gram Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1 tablespoon Yoghurt
100ml Water
2 tablespoons Chopped Coriander
  • There are a few different ways of making the filling for potato pakoras, some people like to make a dry curry using all of the ingredients plus a little oil and then mash the result, personally I find it easier to boil the potatoes first until completely tender and proceed as follows.
  • Allow the potatoes to cool enough so that you can handle them, after which you can peel and mash them.
  • Add the salt to taste, bear in mind that you will need to add enough to flavour the mozzarella which will be contained within the potato, so a little extra in this case is usually better.
  • Add the chilli flakes, chilli powder, lemon and sugar and mash all of the ingredients together until they are well combined
  • At this stage taste the potato - this is where most of the flavour lies for these pakoras so you want it to be perfect, if you feel you need to add more of anything add it now, and then mash to combine again.
  • Chop the mozzarella into approximately half teaspoon sized pieces.
  • Place a tablespoon of the potato filling in the palm of your hand and flatten into a circle about 1cm thick.
  • Place a piece of mozzarella in the middle of the potato circle.
  • Add a second tablespoon of the potato filling on top of the mozzarella.
  • Carefully wrap the cheese in the potato and roll into a smooth ball.
  • Repeat until all of the potato mixture is used up, you should get approximately 20 pakoras in total.
  • Set the oil to heat up in a deep frying pan placed over a medium heat.
  • Whilst the oil heats, prepare the batter for the pakoras.
  • Sift the gram flour into a mixing bowl along with the salt and paprika.
  • Whisk in the yoghurt and water to create a smooth batter. The batter should be the consistency of pancake batter so add about three quarters of the water first and then the rest (plus more if required) until you have the right consistency (the amount of water you need depends on the gram flour, sometimes it needs more, sometimes less).
  • Fold in the chopped coriander.
  • When the oil is hot (test by frying a drop of batter, it should sink, then rise after about 3 seconds), you can start frying the pakoras.
  • Dip the pakoras in the batter to coat them (2 - 5 at a time depending on how big your frying pan is and how comfortable you are with this process), transfer to the oil and fry until golden (about 2 minutes max).
  • Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
  • Serve these hot with a spicy tomato chutney - if they get cold you won't get the oozy cheese in the middle which is the best bit!

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