The Best Pakoras Ever {Vegan + GF}

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Is there such a thing as a healthy snack? This is the question Dr. Ramkumar posed yesterday at Vaidyagrama when one of the patients here asked him for suggestions on healthy snacking.

He never answered his own question, nor did anyone else at first. Finally a small voice offered, “Fruits, hummus, a cup of tea…?”

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Dr Ramkumar is not convinced we need snacks, or that they can ever really be healthy. He believes that essential for the proper digestion that is needed for proper health is to eat at the right time and then give your digestive fire ample time between meals to complete its task and be ready for the next.

What then would he make of this, my tricky treat offering of Pakoras? Can I argue that they are healthy because they were made with farm fresh vegetables?  Or, because the mung bean batter is high in protein and fiber, while throwing battered on its head by being easy to digest?  Or, because it has just the right balance of freshly ground spices to stimulate Agni and dance on your tongue? Or, that by the addition of rice flour you have mung and rice, the very essence of Kichari, Ayurveda’s staple meal?

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No, he may not fully approve, but he does often repeat that for our bodies we should eat simply – and then allow a treat “for our tongues.” Just don’t confuse the two, he says. One is nutrition, the other is a delight for your senses. But, he reminds, the tongue is closely related to the heart, so when you delight your tongue, you delight your heart and enliven your spirit.

Which is what Halloween is all about, right? Enlivened spirits? 

Here’s Vineesh, chef at Kerala’s Serenity Hotel, showing us how to make the best Pakoras ever. {The recipe is written out below.}

The Serenity Hotel is in the foothills of the western ghats on the road to the Periyar Rainforest Preserve. It is a former rubber plantation now with only a few rooms. Despite its intimate and faraway feel, it has the most wonderful kitchen, from the Pakoras that greet you upon arrival, to the luxurious breakfasts, to the exquisite Kerala Thalis, to the unforgettable chocolate dessert.

Serenity chef Vineesh serves these Pakoras with a tamarind, date chutney, which he shows in the video above. Because most of us don’t have ready access to tamarind, I’ve given the recipe for the mint chutney. Also, if you don’t have asafoetida, add a dash of salt instead.

Serenity Hotel Vegetable Pakoras
Makes enough for 8

1 cup mung bean flour (or chickpea)
1 T rice flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t caraway seeds (known as ajwain in Ayurveda)
1/4 t turmeric
1/8 t red chili powder
about 1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sunflower or mustard oil
2 carrots, chopped into matchsticks
1/2 onion, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2 handfuls of fresh spinach, washed and dried

Chat Masala
1/2 each cumin, turmeric asafoetida (hing) powders

Stir all the dry ingredients together, then slowly mix in water to get the thin consistency Vineesh demonstrates in the video. Make the Chat Masala by mixing the spice powders together and set aside.

Warm the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and set a plate covered with a few sheets of paper towel near your stove. Start with the onions, putting them in the batter and quickly into the warmed oil. Cook for about a minute, until golden, then with a slotted spoon, lift the onions out and place them on the paper towel plate.

Do the same thing with the carrots, and then finish with the spinach. Then put everything back in for about another minute, until it becomes deeper tawny gold. Scoop the vegetables out, put them back on the plate with a fresh paper towel, and sprinkle with the Chat Masala. Serve with Mint Chutney

Mint Chutney
1 handful of fresh mint leaves
1/2 t pink salt
1 cup yogurt

With a mortar and pestle or in a small blender, make a paste of the mint and salt. Mix together with the yogurt and transfer to a serving bowl.

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I will send three readers a cup of mung bean flour if you’d like to make these but don’t have access to, or don’t want to have to buy, a whole bag full of mung flour. Just leave me a comment below. How do you define healthy snack?

Now that it is holiday season, please post photos with #myfoodlovestory so I can see and share your holiday antics. Lots of love and Namaste always! 

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Yum

13 thoughts on “The Best Pakoras Ever {Vegan + GF}

  1. A healthy snack is something you can eat that makes you feel good not quilty .there is no point eating anything if you are going to beat yourself up about it afterwards.

  2. These look really yummy! I would like to make them and dont have the flour. Also, I wonder how long they can stay fresh? Do you have to make them and eat them all at once? Kevin.

    • I would eat them all at once! Yes. You can save the batter a day, but once cooked, they should be eaten warm. Once you get a whiff I should think it’d be hard not to gobble them up. Healthy snacks Kevin! Here we come 😉

  3. For me healthy snacks are essential. I need more food than 3 meals to get all the nutrition required for each day. So a healthy snack is something my body needs. It could be yogurt with almond butter or an orange or some dates 🙂 .
    I just sent for some mung beans from Banyan Botanicals. Looking forward to trying them 🙂

  4. I’m loving what’s in season turned into a snack food, whether that’s apple and peanut butter because it’s fall and apples are in season, or a quick beet and sweet potato mash for the winter. Loving staying in sync with the seasons.

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