International / Recipe

Onion Pakora Recipe

Learn how to make an authentic Onion Pakora recipe, a crispy fried Indian / Pakistani snack. Pakoras are made with chickpea (gram) flour, onions, and spices you already have on hand. Or make vegetable pakoras with some of your favorite vegetables!

The best authentic crispy onion pakora recipe (pakoda) served with a delicious pakora sauce. Pakoras are delicious, easy, vegan, and gluten-free! | sophisticatedgourmet.com

No matter the day of the week or the season, Pakoras (both onion pakoras and vegetable pakoras) always call for your attention on any day. This is the best pakora recipe and it makes for the most delectable afternoon snack or appetizer as an accompaniment to your favorite Indian or Pakistani dinner.

This is my mother’s onion pakora recipe; when she first married into my father’s Indian and Pakistani family, she learned from my favorite aunt how to make the best pakoras. This is truly a comforting midday snack meant to be enjoyed with your favorite chutneys and a cup of strong milky tea.

Across India and Pakistan, enjoying cup of chai with a pakora or two is a popular street snack of choice. Onion pakoras are a popular variety, but other quick-cooking vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, red bell peppers (capsicum), and spinach make for delicious pakoras.

pakora with chutney from sophisticatedgourmet.com

Pakora Recipe: What Are Pakoras?

Pakoras (pakodas) are a savory fried Indian / Pakistani fritter that is commonly enjoted as an afternoon snack or as an appetizer. They are commonly served with chutneys (sauces) and strong tea. For this pakora recipe, I made onion pakoras because it’s what I love, but you can use this batter recipe as a guide to make your favorite kind of vegetable pakora (more about veg pakoras in the recipe notes).

vegetable pakora in hand from sophisticatedgourmet.com

Ingredients for the Best Pakoras

When it comes to making pakoras, it’s as simply as mixing everything together. There’s a few basic ingredients you’ll need for this pakora recipe:

  • Besan (Gram Flour / Chickpea Flour) – This gives pakoras their signature Indian / Pakistani flavor. I prefer Indian brands of Gram flour as they tend to be superior than many American or European brands; if you shop at an Indian market, this shouldn’t be difficult to find. However, any brand of chickpea flour will work in a pinch. Depending on the brand of flour, you might need to add more water (as stated in the recipe) to get a perfect consistency for the batter
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – these add a nice amount of smokey background heat. The amount in this recipe is not intense, it adds just the perfect amount of flavor.
  • Fine-Grain Sea Salt – For flavor and to balance out the other flavors in the pakoras.
  • Baking Powder – This gives the pakora batter a nice airy texture and makes the pakoras airy and delicious once they are fried.
  • Green Chili Pepper – Just one, with the seeds left in, is the perfect amount of fresh heat and flavor for these pakoras. If you are sensitive to heat, use half and devein and de-seed the chili pepper. Be careful not to touch your face or eyes afterwards! If you prefer more heat, add a little more.
  • Cilantro leaves (Coriander) – This adds a nice herbal freshness to the pakoras; you will smell its delicious fragrance while you’re making the pakora batter.
  • Yellow Onion / Quick Cooking Vegetables – I love a delicious onion pakora as they are a childhood favorite of mine, but feel free to zhoosh up your pakoras by using your favorite quick cooking vegetables (refer to the recipe notes).
  • Luke-Warm Water – This makes the pakora batter. You want a batter that is thick like heavy cream (double cream), so do keep that in mind when mixing everything together. The water called for in the recipe is more of a guide– the end result of a thick almost-runny batter is what you should truly keep in mind. This varies due to climate and brand of flour used.
Pakora with chutney and sriracha sauce from sophisticatedgourmet.com

How to Make the Best Onion Pakora Recipe for Crispy Pakoras

Pakoras are incredibly easy to make. They require a few components: the pakora chutney, the pakora batter, and the fry.

Pakora Chutney – The chutney I’ve shared with this recipe is far from complicated. It is a deliciously modern ketchup chutney; simply mix together ketchup, water, chaat masala, some sugar, and salt, and you have a delicious dip for your pakoras.

The Pakora Batter – Pakora batter comes together in no time, so you’ll want to heat up the oil while you’re preparing the batter. For the batter: gram flour (chickpea flour), crushed red chili flakes, salt, baking powder, green chili, cilantro (coriander) and vegetables (in this case: an onion) are mixed together with water until the batter reaches the consistency of heavy whipping cream / double cream.

Frying Pakoras – The oil for the pakoras should be between 360ºF / 180ºC and 375ºF / 190ºC when you fry off spoonfuls of the pakora batter. I like the clean flavor of sunflower oil, but any neutral-tasting oil like safflower, peanut, canola, or vegetable oil would work perfectly here. When frying the pakoras, make sure to not overcrowd as each pakora will end up greasy.

Frying pakoras from sophisticatedgourmet.com

Tips for How to make the Best Pakoras

Use quick-cooking vegetables for pakoras – While onion pakoras are a delectable treat, feel free to substitue your favorite quick-cooking vegetables here to make veg pakoras. Raw potatoes and sweet potatoes would not work very well here, unless they are already pre-cooked. Boiled potato slices, carrots, red bell peppers (capsicum), cauliflower, or spinach would work beautifully to make delicious pakoras.

Use a thermometer – using a candy thermometer will ensure your oil is at the perfect temperature before spooning the batter into the hot oil. Alternatively, you can test the oil by carefully inserting the handle of a wooden spoon into the hot oil. The oil should bubble around it when it is ready to be used for frying the pakoras. If the oil bubbles very rapidly, you’ll need to lower the heat before spooning the pakora batter into the hot oil.

Make sure to not over-crowd the pan with pakora batter – this will lower the temperature of the oil and you might end up with greasy pakoras (there’s nothing worse than a greasy onion pakora!).

Don’t use paper towel to drain your pakoras – when it comes to fried foods like these pakoras, paper towel simply makes fried foods steam and get soggy. To ensure your pakoras stay crisp, drain them on a cooling rack placed over a baking pan. This will allow the excess grease to drain without making them soggy.

Pakora Recipe from sophisticatedgourmet.com

How to Serve Pakoras

I love that pakoras can bring brightness to a dreary day and act as the ultimate comfort food. They’re a delicious treat I grew up on. We’d eat them as a midday snacks with a cup of hot masala chai. I love how imperfect and rustic a pakora is once out of the hot oil– it’s simply irresistable. Traditionally, pakoras are served with various chutneys (sauces) such as the sweet and spicy pakora chutney accompanying this recipe and a steamy hot cup of masala chai.

Pakoras on Platter with chutney from sophisticatedgourmet.com

More International Recipes

Yield: Makes 24 Pakoras

Pakora Recipe

Pakora Recipe | Onion Pakora Recipe

It’s amazing how we inherit recipes through family. My mother inherited this crispy onion pakora recipe through marriage. When she married my father, she learned how to cook Indian and Pakistani food and she’s very good at it. She can make a mean pakora and her curried chicken is out of this world. My mother learned this recipe from my aunt S., who is a phenomenal home cook.

Do note that depending on the brand of gram flour / chickpea flour you use, you may need to add more water than what is called for in the recipe (up to 1 cup / 250 ml); just keep in mind that you want the pakora batter to be runny like heavy whipping cream / double cream.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

Ketchup Chutney

  • 1/2 cup / 120 ml ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ tablespoon chaat masala
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Pakora Batter

  • 2 cups / 250g besan (also known as: chickpea flour or gram flour)
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¾ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 green chili pepper, sliced
  • ½ cup / 15 g cilantro (coriander) leaves, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced into 1/8-inch half moons
  • 1 cup / 250 ml luke-warm water (may need up to 1 cup / 250 ml more)
  • Sunflower oil (or any neutral oil like vegetable, safflower, canola, etc.), for deep frying

Instructions

Make the Chutney:

  • Mix all of the chutney ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Make the Pakoras:

    1. Fill an 8-inch cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottom pan half-way up with oil. This is no time to skimp on the oil; we are deep frying here. Heat the oil to 360ºF -375ºF / 180ºC - 190ºC.
    2. In a large bowl, mix together the besan, red chili flakes, salt, baking powder, sliced chilli pepper, cilantro, and sliced onion.Onions, gram flour, spices, cilantro (coriander) for pakora recipe from sophisticatedgourmet.com
    3. Slowly add in the water, while mixing with a wooden spoon or your finger tips. Vigorously mix for a couple of seconds. The batter should be thick, yet runny like heavy cream (double cream) and there should be some air bubbles visible on the surface of the batter. How to make onion pakora batter from sophisticatedgourmet.com
    4. Once the oil is heated, carefully place in heaping tablespoonfuls of batter into the hot oil (feel free to use an ice cream scoop for this; this is not exacting, though). Try not to overcrowd the oil because it will result in greasy pakoras. Fry until the pakoras are a pecan-brown. Drain the pakoras on a cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet .
    5. Repeat with the remainder of the batter. Serve the warm pakoras right away with the Ketchup Chutney (or your chutney of choice) or sriracha, and a warm cup of milky tea.

    Notes

    Vegetable Pakora Variations:

    Feel free to use your favorite quick-cooking vegetables in place of the onions to make your own delicious veg pakoras. Potato and sweet potatoes might not work very well here, unless they’re already pre-cooked.

    While I am partial to onion pakoras, feel free to experiment with the batter. Boiled potato slices, carrots, red bell peppers (capsicum), cauliflower, or spinach would work here.

    The Sauce / Pakora Chutney:

    I prefer this easy ketchup chutney as the pakora sauce for dipping, buy my grandmother loves eating pakoras with sriracha sauce, which is also lovely. I prefer the Shan brand of chaat masala, which can easily be found at an Indian or Pakistani grocery. If you can’t find chaat masala for the pakora sauce, a mixture of ketchup and sriracha sauce tastes great too.

    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    24 Pakoras

    Serving Size:

    1 Pakora

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 81Total Fat: 4.9gSaturated Fat: .5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 76mgCarbohydrates: 6.5gFiber: .9gSugar: .2gProtein: 2.5g

    Updated May 31st, 2020: This post has been updated from the recipe archive, it was originally posted on March 24th, 2011, then on May 19, 2016.

    57 Comments

    • rima
      April 22, 2021 at 3:09 pm

      I love to eat them but find them very hard to digest due to the kind of beans
      Any suggestions to improve digesting the beans

      Reply
    1 2

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