Brussel Sprout Pakora/Bhaji with Coriander Raita

I, at sixteen, ate my first pakora at a friend’s house during Ramadan in Kerala. Growing up in Abu Dhabi meant living in an odd sort of setup. For all that it was a cosmopolitan city, cultures never really mingled. Arabs stayed within their own communities, particularly the locals, Philippinos too and of course Indians. Within, there was also an unintentional segregation based on state and religion. It was not a situation that developed out of any particular malice or lack of understanding. It just didn’t happen that much. Christians socialised with other christian families because most of them met through the church and that was probably the same for all the other cultures. So I never really grew up with Muslims or Hindus on a private basis. I had friends in school, but our parents never quite interacted. We were left to get on with it without the inconvenience of parental interference.

And so, something like pakoras, which is considered to be quintessentially Indian, never passed through my lips in the sixteen years I lived in the protective environment of a Catholic Mangalorean/Keralite family. You see, certain foods relate to certain communities, states, religions or festivals. And pakoras are the usual reserve of Muslim and Hindu communities, particularly those of the North.

University naturally allowed more freedom. In Kerala, hospitality is something that Keralites take utmost pride in and one of the ways in which they keenly display this welcoming attitude, is by plying you with food. So when a good friend of mine, Natasha, invited me to break the fast during Ramadan, I happily accepted the invitation. Her mother had no clue I was coming. That was the norm. Indian women are always prepared for a guest. None of this call-ahead-to-make-sure-we-can-come phone thing. If the door’s open, which it always is, come in; leave your shoes outside.

One of things Nat’s mum made, in the midst of the mountains of delicious foods, was onion pakoras (or bhajis as we call them in the south). Aunty (yes, she isn’t related to me, but I’d be given the evil eye and whacked with a slipper, if I called her by her name) Β served it with a fiery coriander and green chilli raita. It was hot out of its sizzling oil bath, ready to be doused in the vibrant green dip.

That earthy taste of the gram/chickpea flour and the crispness of the thin outer covering, not to mention the onions, crisp like tissue paper on the outside, tender and sweet within, all pulled together by a tart, hot and cooling raita, was sheer magic. I ate so much that evening, which made heaving one leg over my bike to get back home, a most unladylike carry on.

Natasha frequently invited me back home and since her house was close to Uni, I obliged her requests without too much hesitation. Aunty usually had pakoras at the ready, along with some strong (kadak…yup..thats the word for it, so kadak the tea was orange), sweet, thick tea as a stop gap before dinner.

So today, I made these as a stop gap for my two hungry gannets. Essentially a pancake like batter is made with chickpea/gram flour, some rice flour for lightness and crispness, spices, herbs and minced green chillies. To this basic mix, add any quick cook vegetable of your choice. The obvious contenders are onions, cabbage and carrots. I was tipped off by an excellent member of an online food forum about brussel sprouts. So I made them. It’s a perfect foodie amalgamation of Christmas in the western world and my Indian heritage. Can’t argue too much with that. Plus, its a good ‘un for those who don’t like in-your-face sprouts. Oh, and omit the chillies if you wish, these will still hold their own taste wise.

Funny how food can trigger memories. Those monsoon drenched days under the Kerala skies were easy, innocent times. Natasha and I used to sit at the steps to the entrance of her house and watch the rain drip down the terracota coloured roof tiles, making thick, red puddles in the clay heavy earth. No pressure, no worries, no pretence.

Just pakoras, sweet tea and good friends.

Brussel Sprout Pakoras

For the pakoras
100g finely shredded brussel sprouts
1 medium onion, finely sliced
125g / 1 cup Chickpea/ gram flour
3 tablespoons Rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
250ml / 1 cup of water, approximately
1 large handful of chopped fresh coriander
2 green chillies, chopped finely (optional)
1 rounded tablespoon ground coriander
1 rounded teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste oil for deep frying

For the raita:
Large handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons of freshly ground coconut (optional)
1 green chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped (optional)
125 ml / 1/2 cup yoghurt salt to taste

Method In a medium bowl, mix both the flours, baking powder and spices together. Add most of the water, beating or whisking it well. What you are after is a pancake batter consistency, thick but pourable. You may not need all the water, or you may need to add more. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mix the sprouts, onions, chilli and fresh coriander. Set aside Heat oil, on a medium heat, in a saucepan so that it comes up to around 3-4 inches in the pan. You need the oil to reach a temperature where a blob of batter will float, but not colour immediately. If the oil is too hot, the pakora will colour quickly but will remain undercooked inside. If its too cool, you get greasy pakoras. Just take your time getting it right. Put the sprout mix into the batter and combine well. Add salt and pepper.

Taking a tablespoon measure of batter, (shape between two spoons if you like to get a more rounded pakora, but I often don’t bother) and drop it carefully into the oil. It should sizzle, but not ferociously. If it sinks and gets stuck to the bottom of the pan, just nudge it will a spatula. Don’t put in too many at a time. In a 20 cm saucepan, I had around 4 on the go at one time. It will take a few minutes to cook thoroughly, by which time, it will puff up nicely and be golden on the outside. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate with kitchen towels on it. Continue with the remaining batter.

To make the raita : Blend half of the yoghurt with the rest of the ingredients until you have a smooth sauce. Add the rest of the yoghurt and combine thoroughly. The reason I hold some back is because the yoghurt becomes very runny when blitzed. Keeping some aside to mix in after, ensures that I have a raita with a thickish consistency.

Note: Make these ahead of time and reheat in a hot oven for 5-8 minutes. Raita can be made ahead and refrigerated until needed.

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26 thoughts on “Brussel Sprout Pakora/Bhaji with Coriander Raita

  1. joostpoort

    Caroline, I was looking for the ‘like’ button after reading every paragraph. These will have to be made soon. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thanh @ eat, little bird

    Wow! Beautiful, beautiful photos, Carrie! Funnily enough, I was first introduced to pakoras here in Zurich at Hiltl, a popular vegetarian restaurant. I absolutely love them as a snack but never thought to make them myself at home … might have to change that soon! Thanks for sharing this recipe πŸ™‚

  3. Big Sis Little Dish

    I love the photos and your storytelling and the recipe sounds just delicious. I am going to serve it to my husband’s family on boxing day! His mother and all of her siblings grew up in India as the children of a United Methodist missionary who ran an international school in Mussoorie. Now they all gather the day after Christmas in Tennessee for an Indian meal. They will love this mix of cultural influences. Thank you!

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Hey Silvi! Nice to ‘see’ you again! And you are welcome πŸ™‚

      That’s an interesting snippet of information! Mussorie was once of the most beautiful places in India but now suffers from heavy handed tourist development.

      I like the thought of all the family gathering for an Indian meal! You can’t go too wrong with this! I would love to know what you thought of it…good or bad πŸ™‚

  4. Big Sis Little Dish

    When we went to visit, we stayed up in Landour above Mussoorie, where you could see the total development of of Mussoorie on one side of the mountain and untouched natural beauty and snows on the other side. I spent part of my childhood on Maui and the tourist development there is shocking in the same way. I will totally let you know how my attempt at your Pakora turns out!

    Erin (Silvi’s big sis from bigsislittledish)

    1. thePatternedPlate

      My apologies Erin. Silvi had posted before and I assumed it was her again! Hello and thanks for posting. I wish the Indian and the local government would have more discernment in allowing places to be built up like this, but in India, if you have the cash, you have influence, unfortunately, irrespective of laws. The reason why these hill stations (north and south) have remained so pretty for the most part is because of British colonisation and their earnest endeavour to plan everything to be just so, like home!!

      I have never been that far up north. The most northward point for me was Mumbai! Shocking, I know I know. Its a huge country, overwhelmingly so and I couldn’t, or rather, was not allowed to travel alone. One day I will make it up north. Gujarat has some of the tastiest cuisine…not exactly forgiving on the hips though. Oh have you had Dhoklas then? Adore them πŸ™‚

  5. Big Sis Little Dish

    We have seen the opposite ends of India! I have only been once and I cannot wait to return. The country really is vast and it holds such an astonishing number of cultures and languages and of course cuisines! We were in Delhi (for my husband’s work), Agra (briefly), Rajasthan and Mussoorie. I would like to make it to Southern India…hopefully with a girlfriend of mine who speaks Tamil. She was born here in the US but goes to visit family occasionally. I have not had Dhoklas yet, but they sound like something that I would love. I make besan flour pancakes with chilies and ginger but the batter is not fermented. Actually, that was one of the first things that I posted on Big Sis Little Dish because I eat them so often. I’ll have to find a recipe and try to make Dhoklas or maybe you will post a recipe for them? Hint.
    Erin

  6. thePatternedPlate

    *with red face (not easy for dark brown lass)*….err I’ve never made Dhoklas! I used to pinch them off a Gujarati classmate at University and she’d have my lunch of idlis and chutney! But I have read recipes online and it seems fairly straightforward but is time consuming. I’ll definitely give you a shout if I ever get round to making them πŸ™‚

    Tamilian food is closely related to that of Kerala. In fact, the original Tamilian breakfast items of idli, sambhars, dosas and the like are now firmly entrenched in Kerala cuisine. You should make the trip one day Erin and as always, a place is always experienced more deeply when you have someone ‘native’ to show you around. I like Chennai…folk are cool!

  7. Pingback: Brussel Sprout Pakora « Big Sis Little Dish

  8. heavycake

    Your photos are beautiful. We have been eating brussels sprouts weekly and I was starting to get into a rut, I can’t wait to try this. It looks wonderful.

  9. thePatternedPlate

    Thankyou HeavyCake. And yes, sprouts can get rather tiresome! I do hope you try this, and if so, I would love to hear what you thought of it! Lovely blog you have by the way, I like the sound of that pasta!

  10. Pingback: Recipe List » sotoyo.com | sotoyo.com

  11. Farah

    During Ramadan? Are you muslim? πŸ™‚ Great blog. Really clean, simple yet perfect. I’ll def be one of those who checks on your blog often!

  12. Pingback: 9 Brussels Sprouts Recipes to Make Anyone a Believer - Health News and Views - Health.com

  13. Pingback: 9 Brussels Sprouts Recipes to Make Anyone a Believer : Be Live…..

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