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Lord of The Fried


Who among us can say with all honesty – and I’m talking about the ‘cross my heart and hope to die’ kind of truth – that we don’t love fried food?  Never mind that it has artery clogging and cellulite expanding properties which, patient in saner moments, would have most folks recoil in horror; the appeal of frying is that it can turn almost any ingredient into an irresistible golden crust.  And if you’re brave enough to witness the glorious hissing process, shop even the sound effects can set off our glands into salivation mode.

But it’s important to know that the kind of fat used must have a high smoke point, for example refined oils like corn, canola or safflower; clarified butter (ghee) emits a delicious aroma and is a wonderful frying medium as well.  Another point to note is that the food to be fried must be dry (patted with paper towels) else it may splatter and result in too much absorption of oil.  Of course there is the option of blocking any residual liquid from the hot oil by providing a protective coating such as dipping in flour, beaten egg and/or breadcrumbs.

And this is how the Indian diet busters make an entrance – samosas (flaky pastries with savory filling like beef or spiced potato ), pakoras (fritters made with gram flour ) and vadas (doughnut shaped made from lentil) to name a few.  There are as many variations to these as there are families in India.  From the West, we have the beloved fried potatoes, a.k.a French fries or chips.  Fortunately, tasty versions of these – skinny or fat – can be found at certain fast-food joints and beach shacks in Goa.  I must confess that whenever overseas, one of my favourite guilty pleasures is the apple pie and fries at McDonald’s.

It’s common knowledge though that fresh oil doesn’t brown as good as old oil so always remember to save a few spoons of the old batch to mix with the new.  And if you’re feeling really naughty, double frying is the way to go.  Simply refry the previously fried goodies just before serving to unsuspecting guests for that crisp and beautiful brown goodness.  Burp.



Recipe for Lip-Smacking Onion Pakoras

(some variations – spinach, potato, cauliflower, eggplant and chilli pepper)

Ingredients – serves 4, cooking time 10 minutes, prep time 10 minutes

1 cup chick pea (gram) flour, ½ teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 cloves garlic, ¾ cup water, ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, ½ teaspoon chilli powder, ½ teaspoon garam masala, 1 quart oil for deep frying, 2 onions sliced into rings or diced



1.       Sift the chickpea flour into a medium bowl and mix in the coriander, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, garlic and garam masala.

2.      Make a well in the center of the flour; gradually pour in the water into the well and mix to form a thick, smooth batter.

3.       Over medium high heat in a large heavy saucepan, heat the oil to 190 degrees C or 375 degrees F.

4.       Coat the onions in the batter and fry them in small batches until golden brown; 4-5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels before serving


Best paired with coriander or tamarind chutney, ketchup or chilli sauce and piping hot extra sweet tea