Pakoras are an Indian snack consisting of various vegetables, and sometimes meats, mixed with a batter (most commonly made with chick-pea flour) and then deep fried. I have never before seen squid being used in any of my Indian recipe books (at least not for pakoras) and I am departing from tradition by using a combination of wheat and rice flour for this experiment. My creation is actually quite similar to Korean preparations but the spice usage is definitely Indian in spirit and so I am giving them the Indian name…
- ¾ cup Squid sliced into fine shreds 2-3 inches long;
- ¼ cup flour ( I used 50-50 wheat/rice flour but use all wheat if you like);
- ¼ cup Red Bell Pepper, finely shredded;
- ¼ cup Jalapeno Pepper, finely shredded;
- 1 tbsp. Turmeric;
- ½ tsp. ground Black Pepper;
- ½ tsp. Cayenne Pepper;
- ½ tsp. Coriander Seed, coarsely ground;
Toss the bell pepper and Jalapeno shreds individually with a half-teaspoon or of salt and leave to wilt for 30 minutes. When they are soft and have given up some of their liquid, rinse them well and squeeze out any excess water.
Blend the flour with the spices and a pinch of salt and then stir in enough water to make a medium thick batter (ketchup consistency is about right). If you are using frozen squid, save the liquor they throw off when they thaw and use this instead of plain water as this will add extra flavor. I was using frozen calamari rings and had more than enough liquor to make my batter. The remainder will go into a container in my freezer along with the shrimp and crab shells I always save to make shellfish stock. Let the batter sit for 15 to 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
When you are ready to cook, heat a pot of oil for deep-frying and then blend the squid and pepper shreds into the batter mixture.
Next, use a tablespoon and scoop out a dollop of the mixture, allowing any excess batter to drain back into the bowl.
Drop the dollop into the oil and fry until golden brown. You can do several at a time but make sure you don’t add so many that the oil temperature falls too low. When the mixture is used up, blot the pakoras with kitchen paper and serve hot.
Pakoras are often served with a mint chutney or some sort of raita. My wife is very fond of raitas but I am not keen on them and we had no yoghurt in any event. Instead, I served my pakoras with a dip made from a commercial cucumber salad dressing mixed with some of my homemade chili-ginger-garlic paste.
The result, I am happy to report, received a rave review from my wife who announced that these were the best pakoras she had ever had and said she could eat them all night. I’m *usually* a bit more critical of my efforts than she is, but I have to agree that these were pretty good. I think the spice component could use a bit of tweaking… a bit more coriander seed would do for a start, but other than that I was generally pleased. The outside was good and crispy and the center nicely soft with a pleasant bite to the squid. I will make these again, certainly, and I am also thinking that some south-east Asian flavorings like lemongrass and maybe galanga might be nice…