Summer Squash Pakoras
Pakoras were my favorite snack growing up. We looked forward to having them for Iftar—a snack to break our fast during Ramadan. A pakora is a vegetable fritter made using a chickpea batter. Onion and cauliflower was the most common combination in our home, but you can use whatever you’d like! In honor of summer in the PNW, we are featuring zucchini, yellow summer squash, and a bit of sweet onion. Paired with our bright, lemony raita and sour and slightly sweet plum chutney, these pakoras are a delicious savory treat. - Nas
All image credit: Kyle Johnson
Makes 14-16 pakora
1⁄2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
Pinch of ajwain seeds* (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 cup chickpea flour
2 small zucchini
2 small summer squash
1⁄2 sweet onion
1 serrano pepper
Handful of cilantro
2-3 cups high smoke point oil
Grate summer squash in a mixing bowl using a box grater (on the large side). Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt. Let set for 10 minutes.
Pour grated squash into a nut milk bag, cheese cloth, or cloth dish towel. Squeeze tightly over the sink to remove all the moisture.
Thinly slice serrano pepper. Slice sweet onion into 1⁄4 inch slices.
Roughly chop a handful of cilantro, including stems. The stems add great flavor to this dish, just make sure to chop them into smaller pieces for the sake of texture.
In a mixing bowl combine chili powder, turmeric, garam masala, salt, ajwain seeds, and chickpea flour. Add a cup and a half of cold water and stir into a thick batter. The consistency of the batter is important—it should be thick enough to coat the vegetables and hold them together. Add more cold water, tablespoon by tablespoon, until it reaches the consistency of custard or smooth pancake batter.
Pour 2-3 cups high smoke point oil (avocado oil works nicely) into a dutch oven, wok, or high walled skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until oil reaches 375 degrees. The amount of oil required varies depending on the size of your vessel—you want the pakoras to be fully submerged when you drop them in.
Fold summer squash, serrano pepper, sweet onion, and cilantro into the batter using a spatula until coated.
Using a tablespoon drop pakoras batter into the hot oil in batches. Leave enough room to flip them over. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until golden, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes to cook them evenly. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
Serve immediately. Enjoy with cucumber raita (see below) & plum chutney.
Note: Ajwain seeds can be found at your local Indian/Pakistani market. These are totally optional, so feel free to omit. Garam masala is a must have for Pakistani cooking. It’s a blend of many spices and can be found in the bulk spice section in most of our local markets.
Tangy, creamy, and so refreshing—this yogurt sauce is good enough to eat on it’s own. It’s an accompaniment in many Pakistani dishes and pairs so nicely with pakora. We’ve deviated from tradition by adding lemon zest to compliment the summer squash. - Nas
1 cup greek-style yogurt
Zest of one lemon
Juice of 1 1⁄2 lemons
Salt & pepper
Zest one lemon. Juice one lemon. Peel (or not, it’s up to you!) 1⁄2 of a cucumber and roughly chop into small pieces. Combine greek-style yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Stir. Add extra lemon juice, if you think it needs it. Season with salt and pepper to taste.