Why This Recipe Works

  • Bite-sized pieces of cauliflower ensure that each pakora cooks quickly and consistently.
  • 350ºF (177ºC) is the ideal frying temperature for a crisp, golden brown exterior.

Snacks are an important part of Indian cuisine. Pakoras and bhajis are popular snacks in India and are eaten hot for breakfast or lunch, with ketchup, generous spoonfuls of fresh green chutneys made from cilantro or mint, and Maggi Hot and Sweet Sauce. Pakoras can be prepared in a variety of ways using different vegetables, meats, and fish, though typically they are made with fresh vegetables such as onions, whole green chiles, potatoes, leafy greens, or carrots. The vegetables are grated and chopped, then mixed with dry ingredients—like chickpea flour and salt—to help release their liquid in order to form a batter.

Because cauliflower is a tough, hearty vegetable that’s more difficult to draw water from, I’ve chosen to make the batter first by whisking water with a mixture of chickpea flour, salt, and Kashmiri chile powder, garam masala, salt, and ground turmeric for a vivid yellow hue. Incorporating the chile powder or a hot dried red pepper will give your pakoras a pleasant kick, but if you don’t have any on hand, you can make a similar seasoning by combining 3/4 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika with 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne and use it in place of the chile powder. The consistency of the batter should be that of a runny custard. Too thick, and the batter will produce a heavy, bready crust. Too thin, and it won’t stick to the cauliflower well.

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For the crispiest cauliflower, each of its crevices must be coated well, with excess batter shaken off before it’s fried. Keep an eye on the cauliflower as it fries, since smaller florets will take less time to cook than larger pieces. Once the pakoras are golden brown, you’ll use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Crunchy and tender, the pakoras make a satisfying snack and should be served warm and eaten as soon as they’re ready.