Vegetable Pakora recipe made with mixed vegetables, spices, herbs and gram flour. Chai Pakora is a match made in the heaven & we love the crunchy pakora all-round the year, with our Chai. Chai Pakora is an emotion for the Indians! We treasure the moments spent with our near and dear ones enjoying those hot pakoras. Whether you are hungry mid-afternoon or guests arrive home unexpectedly or you meet a friend on the street, the first thing strikes to the mind is to enjoy the time with some pakora & a hot cup of chai. In this post I share with you how to make the best crunchy vegetable pakora at home with step-by-step pictures.
Pakora are crispy fritters made with vegetables like onions, potatoes, gram flour, spices and herbs. Also known as pikora or pakura, it is a popular snack and street food from the Indian sub-continent. You will find many kinds of pakoras made in the homes, restaurants and street stalls.
There are mainly 2 kinds of pakoras, one is made with a batter and the other with a dough like these vegetable pakoras. When you want to make pakora with a sliced ingredient, like a slice of potato, eggplant, bread or paneer, we make the batter. These slices are dipped in the batter and straight away fried.
To make pakoras with fine cut ingredients like shredded veggies, thin slices of onions etc, we coat the ingredients with dry flour and mix to form a dough like pakora mixture. Small portions of this is deep fried until crisp, aromatic and golden.
Perfectly made pakora will fill your home with an invigorating aroma & am sure you won’t stop eating just a plate full of these! They are addictive & simply delicious!
Often a lot of people confuse pakora to be Indian style patties but they are not. Our patties are known as tikki and I have shared an Aloo Tikki Recipe here.
Pakoras are light fritters, not dense & are not shaped anytime. Small portions of dough is gently left into the hot oil which forms asymmetrical shaped fritters.
My Vegetable Pakora Recipe
My recipe is easy enough to make any time with left over veggies in your fridge. Also a few readers have successfully made these with store bought coleslaw mix. Here is what you need to make the recipe
Gram flour is not to be confused with chickpea flour. Gram flour is known as besan and these days it is either labelled as simply ‘gram flour’, ‘chana dal gram flour’ or ‘gram flour from kala chana’. Chickpea flour is made from white chickpea (garbanzo beans) also known as chana. But gram flour is made from skinned and split kala chana, which is nothing but chana dal.
In a pinch you may use chickpea flour but unfortunately it won’t give you the same flavor and taste as gram flour (besan). If you love pakora, I insist you source it from an Indian stores or from an Asian grocery stores. It is easily available. Also look for a fresher stock as old stock of lentil flours often taste bitter.
If you are allergic to gram flour, you may use wheat flour. But the texture will be very different.
Rice flour is more commonly used in South India for pakora. It gives a great crunch and helps to reduce the pakora from soaking up oil. The street side shops use cornstarch as the starch gives crispier vegetable pakoras. So feel free to substitute rice flour with corn starch. I also have a detailed recipe post to make a small batch of Rice Flour at home. You can also use yellow corn flour as a substitute.
Spices & herbs
Spices – Ajwain known as carom seeds are the main spice used in pakora. These help in digestion and also add a layer of flavor and heat to these fritters. You may simply skip them if they are not available. Garam Masala is a spice blend which is not commonly used but my vegetable pakora recipe uses it.
Herbs – In South Indian, curry leaves are abundantly available so a lot of people use them. They also help in digestion and impart a great aroma. In some North Indian pakora recipes, coriander leaves are added. However my mom always added mint leaves known as pudina. You are free to add what you like here.
Vegetables: For this recipe I use a mix of onions, cabbage, French beans, bell peppers & carrots. These are basically small portions of the left over veggies in the fridge during the weekend. Always use quick cook veggies here. Avoid veggies like potato or sweet potato as the cook time is different from the other veggies. I have experimented and they won’t cook well. If you want you can also add some leafy greens like spinach or methi.
How to Make Vegetable Pakora (Stepwise photos)
1. Wash the veggies thoroughly. I have used 1 cup shredded cabbage, 1 medium onion sliced, ¼ cup capsicum, 1 medium carrot, 4 to 5 french beans julienned. Make sure you remove or chop off the bean inside the french beans. They may burst while frying.
You can use other veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, bhindi, potatoes, sweet potatoes, brinjal etc. Make sure all the veggies are almost of uniform size, thin and long. This helps in even frying. You will need about 2.5 to 3 cups for this recipe
2. You can also add chopped spinach, methi, coriander, dill or pudina/ mint leaves. I used a handful of mint leaves, they add a great aroma. Also add 1 to 2 chopped green chilies, 1 teaspoon crushed ginger garlic or paste, ¼ to ½ teaspoon garam masala and half teaspoon salt.
3. Mix all these and squeeze the veggies a bit to let out moisture from them. The mixture begins to smell very good. Set aside for about 10 mins.
4. Add ½ cup gram flour (besan) , ½ teaspoon ajwain and ¼ cup rice flour or 2 to 3 tablespoons corn starch.
5. Mix everything well to make a dough. If the mixture is too dry, sprinkle little water. Make sure not to pour a lot of water. We want a stiff dough here. I did not use any water, moisture from veggies was sufficient to make a dough. Taste test and more salt, garam masala and green chilies if required. If you feel the dough has less flour, you can also add more flour and all other ingredients proportionately.
Fry Vegetable Pakora
6. Heat oil in a pan on a medium heat. Test by dropping a small portion of dough, it should sizzle and come up without turning brown. This indicates the right temperature, adjust the flame to medium. Take small portions of this dough to your fingers, slightly flatten to 1½ inch portions. Don’t shape them to patties. Drop in hot oil. I have a video of similar onion pakoda here. You may check that. You can alternately use a fork and a spoon to do this. Remember not to drop the dough in lumps, you will get lumpy, undercooked and soft pakoras. Do not disturb them for 1 to 2 mins, then stir and fry them.
7. Fry until lightly golden. Transfer to a steel rack, colander or kitchen tissue. Make sure the oil is hot enough but not smoking hot. This way fry the entire dough in batches until you finish the dough.
1. The key to making best crisp pakoras is not to add too much water while making the dough. Veggies tend to release moisture when set aside. So add accordingly.
2. Fry the vegetable pakoras on a medium flame until crisp. Too low flame with make the pakoras soak up lot of oil. Too high flame will brown the pakoras without cooking the dough well from inside.
3. Always taste the gram flour before using it as it has a very short shelf life. It tends to turn bitter with in a few months of processing it.
Pakora Recipe | Vegetable Pakora
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ½ cup besan (gram flour, more if needed)
- ¼ cup rice flour (or 2 tablespoons corn starch, use more if needed proportionally with besan)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 green chili peppers chopped or ½ to 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes (adjust to taste)
- 2 tablespoons mint leaves or coriander leaves or dill leaves chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste or crushed ginger
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon garam masala powder (optional)
- ½ teaspoons carom seeds (ajwain, optional)
- oil for deep frying as needed
Mixed veggies julienned 2.5 to 3 cups
- 1 medium carrot (¾ cup julienned)
- ¼ cup capsicum (bell peppers)
- 1 cup cabbage (shredded)
- 1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
- 6 french beans (julienned)
- 1 cup spinach chopped (optional)
- Wash the veggies and cut to thin 2 inch long strips. Check the pictures in the post.
- Add them to a bowl along with ginger garlic, green chilies (or chilli flakes), salt, garam masala, mint or other herbs. Mix well & squeeze them gently to release moisture. Keep aside for 10 mins.
- Add the gram flour, rice flour (or corn starch) along with ajwain (optional). Mix well to a slightly sticky dough. If the dough is too dry, sprinkle a few tablespoons of water and mix. It must be of a sticky dough consistency and not batter consistency.
- Taste test and add more salt, garam masala or green chilies.
How to Make Pakora
- Heat oil in a deep pan on a medium heat. Test by dropping a small portion of dough, it must sizzle and come up but not brown. This is the right temperature.
- Take small portions of dough and flatten with your fingers to 1½ inch size portions and gently slide to the hot oil. You won't shape it or drop it in lumps.
- Regulate the flame to medium. Do not disturb for a minute or 2 until they firm up a bit. Then stir them and fry until golden, crisp and aromatic.
- Remove the vegetable pakoras to a cooling rack or steel colander. To make the next batch, ensure the oil is hot enough but not smoking hot. Fry in batches until you finish all of the prepared dough.
- To keep them crispy for longer, place them on a wired rack in a low oven setting. You can also reheat them in air fryer.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Pakora Recipe first published in March 2016. Updated & Republished in May 2022.