Monday, July 28, 2014

Courgette Pakoras

Much to my delight a small patch of paddock owned by my employers and adjacent to our offices was made over to staff allotment space earlier this year, and I have one of the plots. It is a nice size for a lazy gardener and I am delighted to see my courgette plants fruiting regularly and a few squash starting to set too. If you grow courgettes you may also be trying to deal with a glut right now and whilst one of my favourite ways to store the harvest is to make a lot of different courgette soups to freeze, these pakoras also make a great soup garnish if made quite small.
The recipe comes from a book I acquired in the late 1990s called 'Cordon Rouge' which is the recipe book of a long since closed vegetarian and vegan cafe/deli called The Red Herring, which was in the West End of Newcastle upon Tyne, close to many of the ethnic shops and was run as a quite bohemian workers co-operative.
They baked bread in a brick based oven in a bakery they had built themselves, and if I remember right it was the only place in Newcastle I could buy my much loved organic flour from Little Salkeld Watermill based in Cumbria.

But back to the pakoras. The recipe is for mixed vegetable pakoras and although I am majoring on courgette here, at other times of the year I would use a mixture of vegetables.

Vegetable mix:
175g courgette cut into short julienne* or 175 g courgettes/mushrooms/cauliflower sliced thinly
1tbs black mustard seeds
1 large onion finely chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
1-2 tbs oil for cooking vegetables

Batter mix:
8tbs gram flour / chick pea flour
2tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2tsp turmeric
3tsp garam masala
1.5tsp baking powder
0.5tsp chilli powder
0.5 tsp salt or to taste
1tsp ground black pepper

oil for frying approx 1 litre for a small fryer/pan

  1. Heat the 1-2tbs oil and fry the mustard seeds until they pop.
  2. Reduce the heat and add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is tender.
  3. Add the courgette/vegetables and fry gently for 2-3 mins until just softened.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  5. Measure all of the batter ingredients into a large bow and stir well to mix.
  6. Stir the cooled vegetable mixture into the batter mix and stir well to bind the mixture together. You may need to add a small amount of water.
  7. Form the batter into rough balls. Small for nibbles/soup garnishes or larger for substantial snacks.
  8. Heat the oil in a large pan. The oil will bubble up when frying the pakoras so the pan should be less than half full of oil. The oil is hot enough when a cube of bread cooks quickly to a light brown.
  9. Gently drop the the pakoras into the hot oil (you can cook them in batches, too may at once will reduce the oil temperature too much)  and cook until a deep golden brown and cooked through. Turn the pakoras in the oil while frying to get an even colouration and cooking.
  10. Once cooked take out and drain on kitchen paper.

First pakora just into the oil
Not quite cooked enough at this point.
Draining on kitchen paper to remove excess oil

The cooked pakoras are to my taste, best when freshly fried but they can be re-heated in a warm oven when needed, or eaten cold of course.

* A microplane style coarse grater is quite good for this.

The soup I served these courgette pakoras with was a 'curried coconut, courgette and chickpea' soup based on a recipe from the Riverford Organic Farms website. I changed the recipe to leave out the cooked chickpeas but instead thickened the soup with chickpea flour. I also pureed the soup which is just personal preference. It is a lovely spicy combination using mustard seeds, cumin, chilli, ginger, turmeric, coriander and cinnamon, and it freezes very well.
I am submitting this recipe to the Spice Trail blog challenge run by Vanesther over at Bangers and Mash who has set the challenge for July to be a recipe including lots of summer spice.
spice trail badge square


  1. I planted an Italian variety of courgette this year that's a new one on me and I'm in a serious glut situation. I love these ideas and, believe me, I'm very grateful for them.

    1. Thanks Phil,

      If you are on the hunt for inspiring courgette recipes then this french blogger has some very attractive looking offerings, scroll down the post for her other recipes but the tart looks rather good. (I think you speak/read French? and of course may already know the blog!)

    2. Correction the main link I wanted was: