Can pakodas be healthier than a red velvet pastry? Do they clog arteries? Author and nutrition coach Sangeeta Khanna was busting myths at The Imperial in Delhi recently, at the launch of her latest book, Pakodas: The Snack for All Seasons (Westland Books; Rs 399).
While cereals, lentils (corn, bajra and moong), rice and wheat make it to the collection, it’s the unusual versions that pique curiosity. From fritters made with flowers, fruits and leafy greens, there are nearly 100 recipes, including those with amla, lasode ka phool, aam, seb, phalsa, even bhang.
There is a section on Non Veg Pakodas. From the usual anda, chicken and prawn to Herbed Omelette Pakoda and Tisre Vade. There are also some chutney recipes in the book, and tips on which goes well with which kind of pakoda. After all, what is the life of a pakoda without a chutney accompanying it everywhere, everytime?
“There was a time when all sorts of pakode, pakodiyaan, fulouri and vade (variations of the snack) were routinely made in families. Even today, one can see three generations enjoying these treats together — including the grandmother who has witnessed the best of fresh produce during her lifetime, and the grandchild whose table is stacked with cartons of processed foods,” Khanna writes in the book. She also cites the Puranas, where the oldest mention of pakodas is found as “vatakas” or vadas.
In her live demonstration at the event, she highlighted the value in using local ingredients and shunning refined oils in favour of cold pressed oils such as sesame, mustard, or groundnut. The organic ingredients for the cookout were sourced from Tijara Farms, a certified organic farm in Rajasthan.
From well-known varieties such as Tamatar Bond and Bhaap ki mongodi to variations such as Arbi Ke Patton ka rikwachh, Nariyal Katlika pakoda and Sehjan ke phoolon ka pakoda, the menu highlighted the diversity in Indian cuisine.
Khanna says the book came from a newspaper article on pakodas she had written a few years ago, even though she has been collecting these recipes all her life. “My father’s and later my husband’s jobs took us across the country, and I was exposed to different types of foods,” says Khanna, in her 50s, who has studied botany and is a trained microbiologist. “I decided to write the book because I felt we were forgetting our culinary roots and in some way wanted to change the image that pakodas have unfairly been given. My quest has been to explore indigenous recipes,” she adds. Earlier this year, Khanna wrote Culinary Culture of Uttar Pradesh.
Kankauve ka Pakoda
20-25 Leaves of Kankauve (or leaves of Parijat/Shiuli)
200 ml Mustard/Peanut Oil
For the Batter
½ cup Besan
3 tsp Rice flour
½ tsp Turmeric powder
½ tsp Red Chilli powder
¼ tsp Dry Mango powder
3-4 Garlic cloves
½ tsp Carom seeds
½ tsp Salt
¼ cup Water
1. Wash the leaves gently and drain.
2. Mix all the batter ingredients and whisk thoroughly.
3. Heat the oil to medium-hot. Dip the leaves one by one into the batter, wipe off extra batter and drop them into oil.
4. The batter-coated leaves shall puff up immediately.
5. Keep turning the pakodas to cook evenly until they become crisp and golden brown on
6. Remove from oil with the help of a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with a kitchen towel.
7. Serve with a thin chutney.