Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pakodas ( Crunchy fritters from Tamilnadu )

Any edible flour can be used to coat a variety of goodies which can then be deep fried into crispy treats – The Pakodas.  South Indian Pakodas belong to the fritter family consisting of  North Indian pakoras, Japanese tempuras, American hush puppies, South Indian bajji, North Indian bhajias, South Indian bondas, Japanese kakiage, , French beignets., Italian frittas and all such crispy, deep fried recipes, which exist in virtually every cuisine. All these are nothing but goodies dipped in batter and deep fried into crunchy treats. Pakodas are unique that they use dry flour as a coating and not batter. The water content of the goodies used is enough for the flour to cling to them. Unlike other members of the fritter family, Pakodas are shapeless.

 Different cuisines prefer different flours. All of them / a combination of them can be used for pakodas. Column 1 lists some of them. A range of flavouring agents listed in column 2 can be mixed in with the flour to cook up scores of variations.  A variety of goodies listed in column 3 can be mixed with the flour and deep fried. There are no fixed rules about the goodies & flour combination. Experiment with your favourite goodies!

 Understanding the principle behind deep frying is the only way to cook a light and crispy fritter every time.

 Deep frying principle : Keep the oil clean and at the right temperature

1. Use safflower or sunflower oil which can heat up to higher temperatures.
2. Have enough oil so that it is at least twice the depth of the food you fry. Using less oil results in its temperature dropping fast when you add stuff to it is added.
3. Fry at the right temperature. Too high and you burn the batter. Too low and the batter soaks up oil and becomes greasy.
4. If the oil smokes, it is too hot. To check temperature, drop a couple of bits of batter into the oil. At the right temperature, batter sinks a bit, but bobs right up and browns within a minute. If the batter sinks, oil is not hot enough. If it dances on the surface, oil is too hot.
5. Do not overcrowd the oil. Carefully add the batter, leaving lots of space around each piece. Too much food causes oil temperature to drop and makes the food greasy.
6. Cook with fresh oil. Unless filtered and stored well, oil earlier used gives a stale flavour.
7. Cook with clean oil. After every couple of batches, filter away the particles of batter floating around.

 Safety First

1. Never fill over half the pan with oil.
2.  A smoking oil can catch fire. Reduce heat immediately.
3. To clean oil spills, sprinkle flour and wipe clean.
4. Avoid frying stuff with high water content as it splashes heavily.
5. If oil catches fire, cover the pot immediately to cut off air supply.
6. Gently slip the batter into oil. Plonking it in would cause splashes.

 The flour:
Different cuisines use different flours. Column 1 lists some of them

1.       Gram flour forms the base for most North Indian pakoras , South Indian bajjis, Bondas and Pakodas.

2.       Wheat flour is the base for Japanese Tempuras.

3.       Pearl millet flour is not very usual but can be used to get crunchy pakodas.

4.        Yellow corn meal batter is used in southern states of America to cook up Corn fritters / Hush Puppies .

5.       Finger millet flour is used to cook up Ragi pakoras popular in Tamilnadu.

6.       Rice flour is used to cook up Almojabanas. , a Puerto Rican recipe. It is also mixed in with gram flour to cook crispy pakodas.

7.       Rava (cream of wheat) is used estensively in Konkan cuisine to cook up a crunchy fritter.

8.      Any edible flour can be used to cook a pakoda. Some all purpose flour is usually mixed in so that the flour clings well.

 The flavouring :
A range of flavouring agents listed in column 2 can be mixed in with the batter to cook up scores of variations. Some fritters like the Tempura use little or no flavouring.

The goodies:
A variety of goodies listed in column 3 can be dredged in the flour and deep fried. There are no fixed rules about the goodies & flour combination. Each flour and goodie combo will have its own crunch. Experiment with your favourite goodies!

This post was inspired by Nandu’s world famous Pakodas. I’ve repeatedly bumped into people who are exceptional in cooking up one recipe – and stop at that. When you have mastered a core principle ( deep frying in this case), you can easily extend your expertise in cooking up a huge array of similar recipes – by just varying the building blocks. This is what One page cookbooks are all about. I hope we get to see a post on more world famous pakodas from Nandu. J

No comments:

Food Consultancy / Licensing / Crash Courses

Contact for complete Food consultancy from concept to completion.

Customised one page cookbooks now available for pressure cooker / microwave / mixie / masala & other cooking product manufacturers. Replace bulky recipe books with easy to refer One page cookbooks and watch your sales soar !


Blog Archive

Cooking is fun - Duplication is a pain !

"It is extraordinary to me that the idea of creating thousands of recipes by mixing building blocks takes immediately to people or it doesn’t take at all. .... If it doesn’t grab a person right away, ... you can talk to him for years and show him demos, and it doesn’t make any difference. They just don’t seem able to grasp the concept, simple as it is". ( Thanks Warren Buffett !)

"What's angering about instructions in many cookbooks is that they imply there's only one way to cook a dish - their way. And that presumption wipes out all the creativity." Cook dishes your way - Download  1001 South Indian curries now and learn to cook, not to duplicate ! ( Thanks Robert Pirsig !)

"Recipe purity is no different from racial purity or linguistic purity. It just does not exist. Cuisines are alive and change all the time. What is traditional today was esoteric just a few decades back. So being a 'foodist' is as bad as being a racist !

About Me

My photo
Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
Okay, let me start from the very beginning. 1500 crore years ago, with a Big Bang, the Universe is born. It expands dramatically. Hydrogen forms, contracts under gravity and lights up, forming stars. Some stars explode, dusting space with the building blocks of life. These condense into planets, one of which is Earth. Over time, self replicating molecules appear, multiply and become more complex. They create elaborate survival machines (cells, plants, animals). A variety of lifeforms evolve. Soon, humans arise, discover fire, invent language, agriculture and religion. Civilisations rise and fall. Alexander marches into India. Moguls establish an empire. Britain follows. Independence. Partition. Bloodshed. The license raj is in full sway. I'm born. India struggles to find its place. Liberalisation. The Internet arrives! I move from Tirupur to Chennai. Start a company. Expand into Malaysia, Singapore and the Middle East. Poof! Dot com bust. Funding dries up. Struggle. Retire. Discover the joy of cooking, giving, friendships and the pleasures of a simple life. Life seems less complicated. Pizza Republic, Pita Bite and Bhojan Express bloom !

Looking for Treatment?