I remember the day my foodie 3 year old became a food enemy. Before that day, I smugly grinned while other mothers talked about resorting to feeding their kids plain boiled pasta for days. I scoffed at Annabel Karmel’s cookbooks that talked about the need for special recipes to feed fussy toddlers. As my kids ate their edamame and chicken satay, I thought I missed out on the picky food phase and even had the nerve to think it was because my superior cooking skills.
But then it happened. I had made a huge meal of vegetable pakoras, chicken curry, and masoor daal. These were things my son had previously eaten and liked. But instead of eating my food, he chose to have raisins and string cheese for dinner. I thought maybe he wasn’t feeling well. The next day I made some chicken nuggets and french fries (both baked but still very yummy) and he didn’t even try them!! Eating habits like that can drive any cook to insanity.
I then thought about how I always ate everything I was given when I was a child. But then slowly, little details began popping up in my mind suggesting otherwise. One example was during a vacation in India with my family. We were on an extensive tour of Jaipur, Agra and Rajasthan and between sightseeing, had dined at many amazing restaurants which offered numerous varieties of delicious food. But no matter what the dish was, for some reason all I wanted to eat were pakoras and Pepsi. Day after day, I turned away many beautiful dishes to the wrath of all servers and family members and was branded an ungrateful wretch.
So much good food to experience but all I could eat were pakoras and Pepsi for 2 weeks! My parents must have been as annoyed with me as I am now when my kids don’t eat what they are supposed to. It’s interesting how life comes full circle.
Vegetable Pakoras with Coriander and Mint Chutney
3 cups Chickpea Flour (Besan)* Usually found in the Indian section of grocery store
1-2 cups water
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon red chili powder
1 large potato, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1 bunch green onions, chopped
5 red Indian onions, peeled and cut in long slices
1 bunch coriander (cilantro), chopped
1 bunch spinach, chopped
Vegetable Oil for frying
1. Add first 4 ingredients to create pakora batter. Add additional water as necessary. Mix well in large bowl so batter becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If you are not sure with the consistency, thicker is better than runny. Let sit for 30 minutes.
2. Add all vegetables to batter until well mixed. (The vegetables should be LIGHTLY coated. The vegetables are the stars, not the batter. It may look like the batter is not enough, but as long as there is enough batter to coat all the veggies you will be fine. This light coating ensures crisp pakoras and not heavy soggy oily ones. )
3. Heat oil until hot. Fry pakoras by sprinkling by hand into hot oil. Do not drop a big blob of batter into the pan but instead sprinkle and spread evenly as a thin layer in the oil. Fry until golden brown.
4. Drain on paper towel. Serve warm with coriander and mint chutney.