Pakoras are a favorite hot snack food in India and usually made with vegetables dipped in a delicious gram flour batter and deep fried. Nothing should stop you from experimenting with meats, chicken, and fish, though! Every region has its variation for pakora batter, and this recipe reflects the flavors of North India and includes carom. Carom, or ajwain, is a herb that is made up of leaves and fruit (often referred to as seeds). Although it smells almost exactly like thyme, it has a taste similar to oregano and anise. The carom "seeds" are a lovely counter to the flavors of the fish.
Serve your fish pakoras with lemon wedges and mint-coriander chutney. They are a terrific appetizer for your next party, but you won't need that kind of excuse to make a batch--try them as a unique "movie night" snack or even as a rainy or cold day treat.
- 1 1/2 cups Bengal gram flour
- 1 tbsp. ginger paste
- 2 tbsp. garlic paste
- 1 tsp. turmeric powder
- 1 tsp. coriander powder
- 1 tsp. cumin powder
- 1 tsp. carom seeds (ajwain)
- 1 tsp. red chili powder (optional but desirable)
- Dash salt (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (juice of 1 lime or 1 lemon)
- 1 lb./500g deboned filleted fish (any firm white fish), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- Oil for deep frying
In a large, deep, non-metallic bowl, mix together the Bengal gram flour, ginger and garlic pastes, turmeric, coriander and cumin powders, carom seeds, red chili powder, salt to taste, and lime or lemon juice. Mix well to form a thick batter, like that of pancakes.
Gently fold the fish into the batter, making sure to coat each piece well. Allow to marinate for 1 hour.
In a wide, flat pan, heat enough oil to deep fry the fish. You will know the oil is hot enough when you drop in a 1/4 teaspoon of batter and the oil sizzles and the batter ball rises quickly to the top.
When the oil is hot enough, drop in a few pieces of battered fish and fry. Do not overcrowd the pan, as the pakoras will stick to each other. Fry until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes a side. Use a slotted spoon to turn over fish pieces.
When done, gently remove from oil with slotted spoon and drain further on paper towels.
Serve while still piping hot, arranged on a platter. Squeeze lemon juice over the pieces just before serving. Garnish with lime wedges. You can also serve with mint-coriander chutney for some extra zing.