Bengali Dal Pakoras

Yesterday’s live cookery class was a lot of fun. We headed over to the East of India and cooked up delicious Bengali style lentil pakoras.

Lentil pakoras are made all over India in a variety of ways. The types of lentil, spices and texture profiles are tweaked from region to region and they’re all absolutely delicious.

I made a couple of tweaks to the classic Bengali “Daler Bora” (sorry Bengalis – it’s the North Indian in me!) and hope you enjoy the recipe. If you are deep frying for the first time, have a look back at the live class as I broke down how to fry without fear! I also shared plenty of tips on how to ensure your pakoras are perfectly cooked on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside.

Do let me know how you get on with making these and how they turn out for you. Dipped into your favourite chutney or dipping sauce, they’re a hit with children and oldies alike!

Also, I am working on something *incredibly exciting*. I can’t say anything yet, however if you’re a spice lover and like the idea of mastering Indian cuisine you WILL want to sign up to my new exclusive mailing list. That way, you’ll be the first to know when I do make the grand reveal!

In the mean time, happy cooking! The next live is on 10th July! x

Bengali Lentil Pakoras

Servings 20 pakoras (approx)

Equipment

  • small wok or wide sauce pan
  • slotted spoon
  • Blender

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup approx 165g masoor/split red lentils washed 3-4 times & soaked for 2 hours in water
  • 2 cms ginger grated
  • 1 large clove garlic grated
  • 1-2 green chillies finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 2 tsp whole coriander seeds coarsely crushed in a pestle and mortar (you can also use coriander powder)
  • 1/2 tsp amchur mango powder optional
  • 1/2-1 tsp chilli flakes according to taste
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves finely chopped
  • 1 small onion (90g) finely diced
  • Oil for deep frying sunflower/vegetable oils work well

Instructions
 

  • Soak the lentils in water for a couple of hours. Then rinse well and drain.
  • Measure 1/4 cup or 40-50mls of water and keep aside. Add the lentils to a blender along with half the amount of the water. Blend together. Then scrape down the sides of the blender jug and a little more water and blend again .You may need to repeat this once again.
  • Aim for the dal paste to be the consistency of a thick hummus. It can be a little grainy but should hold its form.You may need to adjust the water amount to achieve this so judge accordingly.
  • Heat oil in your pan (small wok work best) on low/medium heat.
  • Using a spatula, remove the lentil paste from the processor and add to a mixing bowl. Then add the ginger, chilli, salt, dry spices, fresh coriander and using your hand mix well. Finally, add the onions and mix again.
  • When the oil is hot, place 1 tablespoon of the batter into the oil. The pakora should come up to the top of the oil. Carefully shape and add more pakoras to the oil. Cook in small batched being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for a couple of minutes on a medium heat. Use your slotted spoon to gently turn them over every 10 seconds or so. When you see them turn light golden in colour, increase your heat setting to high and cook until fully golden. (It should take about 5 minutes in total).
  • Remove from oil with a slotted spoon. Allow the oil to drain off the pakoras fully. Then place on kitchen paper. Lower the heat and allow the oil to cool sightly before you do the next batch. Repeat and enjoy with your favourite dipping sauce!

Notes

Tip!
When making the dal paste, if you do find you have added too much water in error and it is too wet, you can add a little gram flour and a pinch of salt to help thicken. You should be able to spoon the mixture into a roundel.
 
 

South Indian King Prawn Thokku

This time last year I was in Chennai. I spent my whole Summer there and it was such a memorable time for me. The cuisine of the South is beautiful and vast. There are so many micro-cuisines within this region. Tamil, Keralan, Chettinad, Managlorian, Karnataka – and that’s just to name a few!

I learnt this dish from a Tamilian chef whilst I was out there and I have now given it a couple of my own tweaks. It’s a little bit special so give it a try. You can use paneer instead of prawns and it still works a treat.

I taught this during yesterday’s live cookery class. If you want to watch the live class again, you can do so by clicking here. Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts and share pictures of your recreations on InstaTwitter or Facebook.

Oh and mark your calendars and join me for my next live cook-along class on 26th June. Keep posted to my social media to see what we will be making.

Happy cooking y’all x

South Indian King Prawn Thokku

Equipment

  • Non stick pan
  • Wooden spoon

Ingredients
  

  • 200 g raw king prawns skinless & deveined. If you are veggy you can use 225g paneer cut into cubes.
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp yoghurt
  • Oil for cooking
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion 100g, very thinly sliced
  • 20 fresh curry leaves optional (you can add dried but soak in warm water for 10 minutes then drain, ahead of time)
  • 2 cms ginger grated
  • 2 big cloves garlic grated
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander optional, you just need the stems
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1-2 chillies as per your taste, finely diced,
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Water

Instructions
 

  • Place prawns in a bowl. Add the yoghurt and sprinkle on 1/2tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1/4 tsp chilli powder and mix well. Keep aside
  • Heat 4tbsp oil in the pan. Once hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, 1/2 of the curry leaves and onions. (The spices should sizzle as soon as they go in the pan).
  • Mix well and add ¼ tsp salt. Cook the onions for for 3-4 minutes until translucent.
  • Now add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. (If you feel your pan is looking dry or your ingredients are catching, add a little more oil or add a little water).
  • Once the onions, ginger and garlic look light golden in colour, add the chopped tomato and chilli. Finely chop the coriander stems and add them to the pan too.
  • Now place the tomato puree in a small bowl and about 1/4 cup (60ml) of water. Mix well to form a watery paste, then add this to the pan.
  • Continue to cook on medium heat – you will see the masala paste thicken. When you notice the masala paste release its oil around the edges, lower the heat.
  • Now add 1/4 – 1/2tsp salt (as per your taste), paprika, coriander powder and sugar and continue to cook for 30 seconds. (Again, if you feel the spices are catching, add a little water)
  • Now add the marinated prawns and increase the heat to medium/high. Mix well and cook for a minute. At this point add 1/2 cup (120ml) of water as well as the remaining curry leaves. Mix again and place a lid on top. After a couple of minutes, mix once again and allow to cook for a further 2 minutes with the lid on.
  • You will see the sauce will have thickened and should look nice and glossy. Once the prawns are completely cooked through, Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
  • Turn the heat off and serve with steamed basmati rice, naan or chapatis.

Spiced Methi (Fenugreek) Parathas

Methi ie. fresh fenugreek is one of my favourite greens! It is incredibly fragrant and flavourful and works well in so many different South Asian dishes.

In today’s recipe I have used fresh fenugreek to create a spicy paratha which is delicious as a side or even on it’s own as a snack. The gram flour adds nuttiness and the cooked potato is my secret weapon for ensuring that the parathas stay soft…even at room temperature.

They are also great for freezing! If you make a batch, you can layer the parathas between sheets of greaseproof paper. Feeling a little peckish? Heat up your pan and pop one on! Smear over some melted butter/ghee and pair it with a generous dollop of yoghurt. Mango pickle on the side? Don’t mind if I do!

Give them methi parathas a go and let me know what you think on InstaTwitter or Facebook. love to see a pics of your recreations!

Oh and don’t forget to join me next Friday on 12th June for my next live cook-along class. Keep posted to my social media over the next few days to see what we will be making.

Happy cooking x

Spiced Methi (Fenugreek) Parathas

Servings 5 rotis

Equipment

  • Rolling Pin
  • Chapati tava/non stick crepe pan/non stick frying pan

Ingredients
  

To make the dough:

  • 1 cup/130g chapati/wholewheat flour I like to use "chakki" chapati flour which is stoneground
  • 1/4 cup/30g gram/chickpea flour
  • 1 small potato (100g) cooked, peeled & mashed
  • 1/4 red onion very finely diced
  • 2-3 chillies very finely chopped
  • 15 stems fresh fenugreek de-stemmed & chopped (equates to 1cup/30g leaves). If you can't source, use fresh spinach.
  • 1 small garlic clove grated, optional
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tso coriander powder
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek/kasuri methi optional

You will also need:

  • Warm water
  • Oil
  • Extra chapati flour in a wide shallow bowl for dusting
  • Ghee/Butter

Instructions
 

  • Place all of the dough ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.
  • Very gradually add 1/2 cup (115ml) warm water gradually to the bowl, constantly mixing and combining the dough together with your other hand.
  • You should see the dry flour and vegetables begin to clump together
  • At this point, you may need to add an extra 1-2 tbsp of water to form the dough. Only add a tiny little bit at a time and gauge how you much extra water you need to by feel – the dough should be soft and slightly tacky but not too sticky. (If you do feel like it has become too wet, you can rescue by adding some dry chapati flour and a pinch of salt).
  • Very lightly grease your fingers and hand and knead the dough lightly for a minute to create a smooth dough. Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, place a little oil on your hand and re-knead the dough until smooth. Divide the dough into 4-5 smooth balls.
  • Now, place your pan on medium heat. Whilst the pan is heating up, take 1 dough ball and press it into the dry chapati flour on both sides. Shake off any excess.
  • Place on your work surface and roll out gently until it is 4-5″ in diameter and even in thickness all the way around (about the thickness of £1 piece). Increase the heat of your pan to the maximum setting. Carefully pick up the paratha, web your fingers and flip the paratha from hand to hand to get rid of any excess flour.
  • Place it on the hot pan for 10-12 seconds. When it changes colour and small bubbles begin to appear, turn it over and cook the other side. Brush oil on this side and flip it over and brush the other side. Cook on each side until you see golden spots all over and it is crispy.
  • Finish by smearing a teaspoon of ghee or butter. Make the rest of the parathas using the same process.

Notes

Tip: If you can’t source fenugreek, use spinach instead!
Tip: Try to cut you vegetable very finely so when you roll them out, they do not create cracks. If you find the paratha is cracking as you try and roll it out, add a little more chapati flour (and a pinch of salt) to the dough and re-knead.
Tip: If you are not serving the parathas straight away, place on a grill tray. This is better than placing directly on a plate or foil. Otherwise condensation will form and will make your paratha soggy. You can re-heat on the pan later or just eat them at room temperature – they are delicious either way!