This recipe is a bit of a globe trotter. The chickpea batter is inspired by Indian pakoras, yet the mushroom pieces emerge from the oil lightly coated, like Japanese tempura. With its mix of mint, cilantro and lime, the sauce could be Mexican. The mushrooms? Grown right here in Canada. Given the diversity of flavours and ingredients, I’m tagging this an international dish.
While you don’t need a passport to make these, if you’re new to deep frying, you might want to familiarize yourself with the territory before forging ahead.
- Small pieces deep fry more quickly and evenly than larger pieces. If your mushrooms are tiny, you can deep-fry them whole, but with standard-sized mushrooms, quartered works best in this recipe.
- Use a light, neutral oil with a relatively high smoke point. Canola, peanut, safflower, and sunflower oils are good choices.
- Make sure your saucepan has high sides and a heavy bottom for even heat distribution.
- Don’t fill the pot with oil more than half way. This prevents splashing and wastes less oil.
- Oil heat is crucial to a crisp batter. You’re aiming for 375°F. I use a candy thermometer to monitor the oil, but a simple drop of batter will do the trick. Simply drop a bit of batter into the oil. If it bubbles and rises to the surface, the oil is hot enough. If it burns, it’s too hot. If it sinks, it’s not hot enough.
- The oil temperature will drop when you add the pakoras. Make sure it returns to temperature between batches.
- Don’t overcrowd the pakoras. They need space to cook evenly. Frying fewer pieces will also help maintain a steady oil temperature between batches.
Mushroom Pakoras with Mint-Cilantro Dip
Mushrooms are an ideal ingredient to start your deep-frying ventures. Their dry exterior means they won’t splutter when they hit the oil. Because they cook quickly, these pakoras can be in and out of the oil in minutes.
3/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
generous pinch fine sea salt
3 cups vegetable oil, divided
8 to 10 white button mushrooms, about 2 inches wide
1 cup chickpea flour (also called gram flour or besan)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup club soda
Place all the dip ingredients in a blender. Pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Pour into a small bowl and set aside while you cook the pakoras.
- Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towel. Set aside.
- Pour all the oil except 1 teaspoon into a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat. Heat oil to 375°F while you prepare the pakoras.
- Wipe mushroom caps, remove stems and save for another recipe. Cut the cap into quarters. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk chickpea flour, cumin seeds, salt, and cayenne to combine. Add the crushed garlic and the reserved 1 teaspoon oil. Slowly whisk in the club soda. The batter should be smooth and thick like pancake batter. Add the mushroom pieces and toss to coat evenly.
- When the oil has reached 350ºF, use a fork to gently place 6 to 8 pakoras — one at a time — in the hot oil. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, turning once, until golden brown all over. Remove Pakoras with a slotted spoon and place on the paper towels to drain. Continue cooking the pakoras in batches making sure the oil returns to temperature each time.
Serve while still hot with the dipping sauce on the side.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
This bite-size snack is perfect for any occasion, from a girls night in to a Super Bowl party. A big thank you goes out to Charmian Christie for sharing this mouthwatering, culinary treat!