On a very wet day, Mum would made us pakoras. They always tasted that much better on a rainy day – all of us siblings sitting on the veranda and putting the world to rights and talking about the Indian cricket team. This is one of Mum’s many splendid variations.
Sunflower oil, for frying
150g gram flour (chickpea)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp dried pomegranate seeds (anardana)
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 green chillies, finely chopped including seeds
1 medium cauliflower, broken up into small florets (don’t discard the small green leaves which are attached to the cauliflower – pull them and chop them up)
handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Half-fill a heavy-based deep frying pan with the oil and heat over a medium heat until 175–180 degrees centigrade.
Meanwhile, make the batter. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and then add the salt, cumin seeds, dried pomegranate seeds, turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, chopped green chillies and just enough water to make a thick batter.
Add the remaining ingredients to the batter and mix together well, ensuring that the ingredients are well coated.
If you don’t have a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil, drop a tiny spoon of the mixture into the oil. If it floats to the surface, your oil is ready – if it sinks to the bottom, is needs to be hotter.
Once the oil is up to heat, take a tablespoon and drop a few spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil and fry for 2–3 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain off the excess oil. Repeat cooking in these small batches until all of the mixture has been used.
Serve hot with a cup of chai, plus chutney or tomato ketchup on the side.