Pakoras are an Indian snack of vegetables fried in chickpea batter. At Masala y Maíz in Mexico City, chefs Saqib Keval and Norma Listman like to use epazote, a Mexican herb that tastes somewhat like oregano, for these cross-cultural fritters. If epazote is not available, the batter works well with onion rings. Fenugreek seeds, available online or at specialty stores, add complexity and a light sweetness to Indian cooking.
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh turmeric
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bunch green or purple epazote
1 1/4 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 1/4 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 cups chickpea flour (about 61/2 ounces), sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 (12-ounce) can Mexican-style lager, chilled
Sunflower oil, for frying
How to Make It
Step 1 Make the raita
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low. Add onion, turmeric, ginger, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add cumin seeds, and cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Place onion mixture and yogurt in a blender; process until smooth. Stir in salt. Place in a bowl, and chill until ready to serve.
Step 2 Make the pakoras
Rinse epazote in cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Trim and discard large stems; tear larger sprigs into smaller 3- to 4-leaf sprigs.
Heat a small skillet over medium-high; add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, and peppercorns. Cook, stirring often, until toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes; remove from heat. Place cumin mixture in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, and grind until finely ground. Whisk together ground cumin mixture, chickpea flour, and salt in a large bowl. Slowly add beer, stirring until well combined.
Pour sunflower oil to a depth of 1 inch in a large skillet. Heat over medium-high until oil reaches 325°F. Working in batches, dip each epazote sprig in pakora batter, allowing excess batter to drip back into bowl. Add epazote to hot oil, and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Serve hot with raita.
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