Lentil and Spinach Pakora

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Pakora (aka Fritters) are a fantastic addition to any Indian meal or perfect to serve with drinks. As with all Pakora, they use only a few fresh ingredients, making them a great, cheap choice for parties.

Because they’re made with lentils, they are light and fluffy inside and crisp and golden on the outside. Filled with spinach, coriander, spring onions and chillies (if you ignore the fact they’re deep fried…) they’re a health food!

Spinach & Lentil Pakora – makes around 24

186g Moong dal (these are skinned, split mung beans and are available from supermarkets in the World Food section, or Indian stores)

100g pre-washed and dried, finely shredded spinach (I grab a handful and roll it up into a cigar, then finely slice my way along)

4 spring onions, washed, dried and finely sliced

Small handful of washed and dried coriander leaves, roughly chopped (you can use parsley or any other mild tasting herb, if you prefer)

2 green chillies (you can use more if you prefer, or leave them out completely)

1/8tsp (pinch) of baking powder

1/2 – 1 tsp salt

Soak the Moong dal for 4 hours in water.

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Drain, rinse and put into a food processor with 4fl oz water and whizz together until smooth, light and fluffy. This should take about 5-6 minutes in 1 minute bursts. Each time, scrape down the sides of the processor before whizzing for another minute.

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Mix in the other ingredients with 1/2tsp of the salt at this stage. Don’t be tempted to add any more spinach, coriander or spring onion than stated above in the recipe, if you overload the mixture the pakora will turn out to be heavy and chewy instead of light and fluffy. Taste and add more salt or chilli if it’s needed.

Fill a pan no more than half full of oil and heat to 190C, or set your deep fat fryer to 190C. You can tell when it’s ready by dropping some bread into the oil – it should turn golden brown in 10-15 seconds. Another way to find out is to put the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil – little bubbles should appear around it.

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Gently slide small dessert spoons of mixture into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan because it will make the pakora soft instead of crisp. You may be able to get around 8 pakora at a time into the pan. They should have lots of smaller bubbles around them. The photo below is of the first four pakora going into the pan which means there are a lot of larger bubbles around them. Turn your heat down slightly so that the bubbles are smaller than this, otherwise the pakora will brown too quickly.

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Using a slotted spoon, turn the pakora over so that they cook on both sides and fry until golden brown. Lift out onto kitchen roll to drain. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

You can cook the pakora in advance and then reheat, covered at 180C for 10 minutes, although they won’t be as crispy as they are when served fresh from the pan.

A dip would be great with these, such as raita.

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