Crispy Indian Vegetable Pakora(fritters) are gluten free. Thinly sliced zucchini, potatoes, yellow squash, and spinach dipped in gluten-free chickpea and rice flour batter then fried until crispy. Great for tea-time snacks, and Ramadan Iftars. Serve it as is with chutney, make it like chaat, or serve it as tempura.
Pakoras (fritters) have been part of South Asian food culture for years. There are so many versions of pakoras out there. My favorite is Aloo pakora. Thinly sliced aloo (potato) or other vegetables layered with simple chickpea (Besan) batter. Frying is the only way to enjoy the true flavors of vegetable pakora in my opinion.
Why Fry the Pakora?
We don't eat pakoras often so might as well fry them and enjoy the goodness. I do not recommend baking or air frying them for this recipe.
My kids don't like to eat vegetables, they run away from me when I try to feed them vegetables lol. However, they will gladly eat fried vegetable pakoras with their mother's authentic and modern Indian kicks ;).
If you are South Asian or following a Gluten-free or Vegan diet, you might already have the ingredients for this recipe in your pantry. I am listing ingredient substitute options for an American pantry as well. This recipe is my favorite for Ramadan. One pakora recipe served three ways.
- Zucchini: I have used zucchini for this recipe. The batter would work great for potatoes, eggplants, or other root vegetables as well. I am using 1 medium zucchini for this recipe.
- Yellow Squash: one medium yellow squash thinly sliced. If you are not a fan of yellow squash, use 2 medium zucchinis or any other vegetable that would work fine.
- Spinach: I am using about 8 to 10 baby spinach leaves with stems. I don't recommend using spinach with large leaves for this recipe.
- Potato: two baby Yukon gold potatoes or one small potato are great for this recipe.
Spices and flour
- Chickpea Flour: chickpea flour is the main ingredient of this recipe. I am using fine chickpea flour. You can find it in major grocery stores' baking sections or at a local Indian grocery store.
- Rice Flour: adding rice flour makes the crispiest pakoras. I have seen rice flour in major grocery stores and Asian supermarkets. You can also find it in an Indian grocery store or online.
- Turmeric Powder: I am adding ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder to the batter. I like to see my pakoras bright yellow and ½ teaspoon doesn't over-powder the batter for me. ¼ teaspoon should work fine as well.
- Salt: I am using ½ teaspoon pink Himalayan salt in the batter. I am also sprinkling ? teaspoon salt along with some chili powder on pakoras. Adjust the salt amount according to your taste and the type of salt you use.
Condiments to Serve Vegetable Pakora with:
Condiments are optional. I am listing the condiments for three different ways to serve this recipe. Pick and choose whichever fits your taste palate.
- Cilantro Mint Chutney: I am using homemade cilantro mint chutney to serve with zucchini pakoras. You may use store-bought chutney if you like.
- Chili-Chaat Masala: this spices blend is a game-changer on crispy pakoras. I am using ? teaspoon each of chaat masala, red chili powder, and salt to sprinkle on top of the pakoras.
- Tempura Dipping Sauce: tempura sauce contains granulated Dashi stock, mirin wine, and soy sauce. I make my modified version with light soy sauce, vegetable or meat broth, sugar, and water. See the gluten-free tempura recipe in the below blog section or follow the table of contents.
- Tamarind-Date Chutney: I usually buy tamarind-date chutney from our local Indian store. A couple of drops on top of pakora chaat tastes wonderful.
- Yogurt: ¼ cup whisked plain yogurt to top crispy pakora for chaat.
Three ways to Serve Vegetable Pakora:
I love the crispy texture of pakoras and melt-in-the-mouth veggies. I like to serve Pakora with green chutney and a sprinkle of chili-chaat masala, and Chai (Tea).
My husband likes the chaat version with whisked yogurt, tamarind-date chutney, and a sprinkle of red chili powder.
Some folks like to serve them with Ketchup, or chutney raita. You do you! Serve it as is or take my three-way serving idea to impress your guests. 🙂
Gluten Free Pakora aka Vegetable Tempura
The crispy texture of these pakora reminds me of Japanese tempura. I decided to fry the veggies with my pakora batter and serve it with tempura sauce. It was a hit in my family.
You ought to try this modern Indian vegetable pakoras as tempura if you love pakoras and tempura. I promise it won't disappoint you.
Tempura Dipping Sauce Recipe
All the tempura dipping sauce recipes I came across contain alcohol and shellfish. My husband is allergic to shellfish and alcohol doesn't suit our Halal diet. I made a few adjustments to create our sauce and it tastes pretty amazing.
- Vegetable or Meat broth ¼ cup, or 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- ¼ cup light soy sauce
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon grated ginger(optional)
Whisk all the ingredients in a medium prep bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve it with vegetable tempura.
A good batter is key to having crispy pakora. My Ammi (mother) always eyeballed the ingredients. I struggled to get that perfect batter for crispy pakora.
Failing and learning from your mistakes is what makes us better home cooks I guess. Sharing my successful pakora batter formula below :).
1 cup of fine chickpea pea flour + ½ cup rice flour + 1 cup of Luke warm water = magical batter for crispy vegetable pakora/bhajji.
Vegetable Pakora without Chickpea Flour
Pakora can be cooked without chickpea flour as well. All-purpose flour would work fine If you do not have chickpea flour or prefer not to use it. FYI, chickpea flour vegetable pakoras are crispier.
Rice flour Substitute
Corn starch or Arrowroot is a great substitute for rice flour. Both are great to achieve a crispy texture for pakora.
More Ramadan Recipes You'll Love:
- Aloo(Potato) Samosa
- Garlic Roasted Potatoes
- Easy Seekh Kebabs
- Stuffed Peppers
- Cilantro Chutney
- Mutton Biryani
- Easy Chicken Biryani
Kitchen Tools You’ll Need:
Vegetable Pakora Recipe (Vegetable Fritters)
For Pakora Batter
- 1 cup fine chickpea flour
- ½ cup rice flour
- 1 cup luke warm water
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups oil for frying , canola or vegetable oil
Vegetables for Pakora
- 1 medium zucchini , washed, cleaned, and sliced into ⅛ inch circles
- 1 medium yellow squash , washed, cleaned, and sliced into ⅛ inch circles
- 8-10 baby spinach leaves , prewashed or wash couple times under running water, pat dry completely
- 1 medium Yukon potato , peeled and thinly sliced, soak them in water until ready to cook
Optional Pakora Chaat Condiments
- ¼ cup cilantro chutney
- ⅛ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
- ⅛ teaspoon chaat masala , optional
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup whisked plain yogurt , add tablespoon water to whisk it if it's too thick
- 2-3 tablespoons tamarind-date chutney
Optional Tempura Condiment
- Tempura Dipping Sauce , see recipe instructions in the blog
- Combine chickpea flour, rice flour, turmeric, salt, and water in a large prep bowl. Whisk the batter until smooth and no lumps are left. Set the batter aside for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash, and clean all the vegetables. Peel the potato and thinly slice it into circles. Transfer the sliced potato into a bowl with some water.
- Slice zucchini and yellow squash into ⅛ inch circles. Pat dry all the excess moisture on the spinach with paper or a kitchen towel.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet or a wok with cooking oil on medium-high heat. Takes about 2 minutes for the oil to start heating up on medium heat. Oil has to be medium hot to fry the pakora.
- Take 6 to 8 slices of zucchini, squash, and potato for the first batch of frying. Dip one slice of vegetable in the batter at a time and transfer them to hot oil.
- Fry the pakora until one side is slightly golden. Turn over the pakora with a fork or spider strainer. Fry the other side until golden and crispy. Fry longer on both sides if needed.
- Repeat the frying steps until all the potato, zucchini, and squash are fried. Fry spinach in the end.
- Serve it with cilantro chutney and sprinkle of chili, chaat masala and salt.
- To serve it as pakora chaat, place the pakora on a plate, top them off with whisked yogurt, tamarind-date chutney, and a sprinkle of red chili powder.
- See Tempura dipping sauce recipe to serve the pakora as a tempura.
- Add a drop of batter to the hot oil. If the batter quickly comes up on top of the oil surface and cloudy bubbles form around the batter drop then the oil is ready for frying.
- You can also check by sticking the end of a wooden spatula into the hot oil. If the oil is hot enough for frying, the bubble will form around the end of the wooden spatula.