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What is a paneer pakora?

At the end of each month, we had a cherished ritual in our home: my mom, who used to be a teacher, would go to the local government office in our small town to collect her and her staff’s pay check. On the way back home, she would stop at the halwai  shop which the equivalent of local bakery. Halwai is someone who is an expert in making Indian sweets called mithai. My mom would buy paneer pakoras and a mithai called shena murghi. This was a special occasion so all of us kids eagerly awaited the end of the month.

Perhaps, this is one the reasons that I love paneer pakoras. Especially the paneer pakoras with a filling. However, the recipe for making paneer pakoras with a filling has always been a secret (or atleast it was when I was a kid). Just like traditional bakers, halwais protected the secret of their recipes handed down over the generations from father to son. Yes, halwais mostly always have been men and still are for the majority. Given that no halwai was willing to divulge their secret, I came up a recipe for my own filling using mint, onions, salt and mango powder. And I am proud to admit that it’s pretty good, perhaps even better than the halwais..?

But what is a paneer pakora? Paneer is Indian cottage cheese and pakora is a fritter made using black chickpeas flour called besan.  The recipe for making paneer pakoras is pretty easy. Slice the paneer in cubes, add the mint filling and dip the cubes in besan batter and fry until golden brown. I serve them with tamarind and mint chutney and I always have an easy crowd pleaser at the parties. Now go and  fry them up!

Recipe for Making Paneer Pakoras
Paneer Pakoras with Mint filling

Course Appetisers, Snacks
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories/Serving 300kcal

Ingredients

Filling

  • 50 gram fresh mint leaves
  • 25 gram fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 small shallot (1-2 inches)
  • 1/2 tsp mango powder (amchoor)
  • salt to taste

Besan Batter

  • 8 tbsp black chickpea flour (besan)
  • 1.5 tsp mango powder (amchoor)
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (ajwain)
  • 1 tbsp kasoori methi
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • 500 gram paneer
  • 1 cup oil for frying

Instructions

Make the Filling

  • Grind together mint leaves, coriander leaves, shallot, salt and 1 tsp mango powder.  Don't make it too fine and leave it bit coarse. 

Make the Pakoras

  • Slice the paneer into about two inches squares and  about 1/4 inch high.
  • Add the mint filling between the two slices of paneer (like you make a sandwich) and set them aside.
  • Mix together all the other ingredients of  the besan batter.  Make sure that the mixture is smooth and there are no besan solids. Mixture shouldn't be too runny or thick. Add or remove water if needed
  • Set the oil to medium high heat in a wok.
  • To test whether the oil is hot enough, take 1/4 tsp of the besan mix and add it to the oil. If the besan mixture rises to the surface quickly, then the oil is ready to start frying.  However, if the oil is producing smoke, it's too hot.
  • Dip the paneer slice (sandwiches) in to the besan batter and make sure it's covered with the batter on all sides

Notes

I use smoked mustard oil for frying. To smoke a mustard oil, heat up the oil until it starts to produce smoke. Turn off the heat and let the oil cool. Now, you can use this oil for frying. However, you can use any oil which is suitable for frying.
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Easy and delicious recipe for making paneer pakoras.
Paneer Pakoras with Mint Filling

 

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