I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t love Vengaya Pakoda. Crispy, delicious Vengaya Pakoda or onion fritters are bliss on a cold, rainy day, especially when served straight off the pan. Even on a regular day, a platter of these onion fritters with a cup of tea or coffee perks up everyone’s mood. No wonder these are one of India’s favourite snacks, available just about everywhere! Today, I’m going to share with you our family’s crispy onion pakoda recipe, with tips and tricks to get it just right.
A closer look at Vengaya Pakoda
Vengaya Pakoda, as I said earlier, refers to crispy, deep-fried onion fritters. The main ingredient in these pakodas is, of course, onions. Gram flour aka besan – which is flour made from black chickpeas or de-skinned gram dal (chana dal) – acts as a binding agent. Rice flour is added in, to make the fritters crisp.
We like our fritters simple, with only minimal ingredients going into them. I use salt, a bit of asafoetida and turmeric powder, as well as some finely chopped fresh curry leaves. I skip the chopped green chillies that some people add to the pakodas, and use red chilli powder instead. I use regular refined oil to deep-fry the fritters.
Are these fritters vegan and gluten-free?
This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suitable to those following a plant-based diet. You can skip the asafoetida used in the recipe to make the fritters gluten-free. Most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, please do go ahead and use it.
It’s raining #MonsoonMunchies at the Foodie Monday Blog Hop!
The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. The theme this week is #MonsoonMunchies, wherein members are showcasing a variety of snacks just perfect for the monsoons. With rains starting shortly in most parts of India, including Bangalore, I decided to share our family recipe for everyone’s favourite Vengaya Pakoda. These fritters define ‘monsoon’ for me!
It was Archana from the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group who suggested this week’s theme. Archana is the author of The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen, a beautiful blog that includes several traditional Goan dishes, many baked goodies and other Indian regional delicacies. I’m charmed by the look of the Samosa Chaat on her blog, which is perfect ‘rainy day comfort food’ for me. Her Vegan Tofu Steak would also make for a wonderful monsoon meal, I say.
Vengaya Pakoda or Crispy Onion Pakoda recipe
I have had my fair share of failed onion pakodas, with them not being crisp or raw in the centre or doughy. But that’s all in the past now. I have learnt from my mistakes, from Amma’s expertise and my house help’s expert tips.
Here’s how we go about it.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
- 4 medium-sized onions
- Salt to taste
- 3-4 sprigs fresh curry leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- 3/4 cup gram flour (besan), or as needed
- Oil, as needed for deep-frying
1. Peel the onions and chop length-wise, thinly. Place them in a large mixing bowl. Mix some salt into the chopped onions and let them sit for 10-15 minutes.
2. Set the oil for deep-frying in a heavy-bottomed pan, on high flame. Allow the oil to get nice and hot. In the meantime, finely chop the curry leaves and add to the mixing bowl.
3. In 10-15 minutes, the salted onions would have let out water. Add the red chilli powder, salt to taste, asafoetida and turmeric powder.
4. Add rice flour and a little gram flour to the mixing bowl too. Mix up all the ingredients gently. Now, add some more gram flour, mixing up the ingredients. Continue doing this till the proportion of onions to the flour in the mixing bowl looks equal. I needed about 3/4 cup of gram flour for 4 medium-sized onions + 1/4 cup rice flour.
5. When the oil for deep-frying gets hot, add about 2 tablespoons of it to the mixing bowl.
6. Now, mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl with a spoon. Do not add any water. If you feel the batter is too dry, you may add a couple of spoons of water to it, but not too much.
7. Reduce the flame down to medium, on the oil for frying. Drop a few small pieces of the batter into the hot oil. Deep fry on medium heat till the fritters get brown and crisp on the outside. Take care to ensure that the fritters do not burn while frying. Remove the fried fritters onto a plate.
8. Keeping the flame medium, prepare fritters from all the batter in the same way, a few at a time. Serve them hot, with tomato ketchup or any other accompaniment of your choice.
Tips & Tricks
1. Slice the onions thin and length-wise, for best results. You can also chop the onions fine, but thin, length-wise slices turn out better.
2. Do not add any water while binding the ingredients together. This will help make the pakodas crisp. If needed, make sure you add very little water. The batter should be thick.
3. Adjust the quantity of red chilli powder as per personal taste preferences.
4. Don’t forget to add the hot oil to the batter. It helps make crisp and flavourful pakodas.
5. Be careful while adding salt to the batter. Remember that you already salted the onions before.
6. Some carom seeds (omam/ajwain) and finely chopped coriander and green chillies can be added to the pakoda batter, too. I usually don’t.
7. Let the oil get nice and hot before dropping the fritters into them. To test the oil, drop a small piece of the batter into the hot oil. If it slowly rises to the surface, the oil is hot and ready. If it doesn’t, the oil needs to get a little more hot. If the oil is very hot, the batter will immediately rise to the surface – in that case, it needs to be allowed to cool down a bit. Start frying the fritters only when the temperature of the oil is just right.
8. Fry the fritters on medium flame, to ensure even cooking. Otherwise, the pakodas will get brown on the outside and remain raw on the inside.
9. Do not clump the batter together while dropping it into the pan. Don’t form balls out of the batter, just drop small pieces of it into the hot oil. This helps in getting ‘light’, non-greasy fritters.
10. Do not overcrowd the pan with fritters, while deep-frying. Fry a few at a time, so they have space to move around in the pan and get cooked evenly.
11. Don’t use too much gram flour, otherwise the fritters will seem doughy. Adjust the quantity of gram flour you use, as stated in #4 of the recipe above.
12. You may add a pinch of baking soda to the batter too, to make the fritters light. However, this is not necessary. You can get crisp, light pakodas keeping in mind the tips and tricks stated above.
13. You can use any oil of your preference to fry the fritters.
14. Use a heavy-bottomed pan, for the deep-frying.
Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!