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Pakoras in a bowl with cilantro chutney

Baked Cauliflower Pakoras

This baked version of a traditional Indian fried snack is packed with flavor. Naturally vegan and gluten-free, these baked pakoras are crispy, savory, heavenly-spiced balls of goodness that you can eat by yourself or with a few friends, guilt-free ;)

Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Keyword gluten-free, healthy, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 12 pakoras

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds*
  • ½ medium onion diced finely
  • 1 small chile deseeded and minced (such as a jalapeño or serrano)
  • 1 in. ginger peeled and minced (use the back of a metal spoon to peel it, the easiest method by far!)
  • 2 c cauliflower chopped into small pieces, from about ¼ of a head of cauliflower
  • 1 c fresh spinach roughly chopped
  • ¾ c chickpea flour**
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp hot chile powder (such as cayenne)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ c water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. If you’re not trying to keep these vegan, then feel free to add a little butter to the oil, or you can eliminate the oil and just use ghee (clarified butter).
  3. Add the cumin seeds to the oil and allow them fry for about 30 seconds until fragrant before adding the onion, chile, ginger and salt. Fry until the onions have turned a deep golden brown, about 10-15 minutes, but do not burn. If necessary, add a little water to the pan to prevent the mixture from burning.
  4. While the onions sauté, prep the cauliflower and spinach, and begin mixing together the batter.
  5. Mix the flour, baking powder, spices and salt in medium bowl. Pour in the lemon juice and water until a thick batter forms. If the batter is too thick, you can add additional water a tablespoon at a time until you’ve reached the right consistency. The batter should be thin enough to coat the vegetables but thick enough to hold them together.
  6. Once cooled, add the onion mixture to the batter, along with the cauliflower and spinach. Fold together until all of the vegetables have been evenly coated.
  7. Line a baking sheet*** with parchment paper and dollop heaping spoonfuls of the batter onto the sheet; you should end up with about 12 pakoras. These will be very loose, but I promise they will hold together once baked.
  8. Bake 15 - 20 minutes, flipping after 10 minutes. Remove from the oven when golden brown and serve immediately with Cilantro Chutney or some Cucumber Mint Raita.

Recipe Notes

You can use gluten-free all-purpose flour if you don’t have chickpea flour, it will still work and be delicious but chickpea flour has a unique taste. It is very inexpensive and really healthy for you, too. You might find it in the international aisle marked as besan or gram flour. I have used Bob’s Red Mill before, which you can buy on Amazon here.

If you don’t have cumin seeds or can’t find them, you can substitute an equal amount of ground cumin. I would definitely recommend getting some, though, if you can find them because toasting the seeds really makes a difference in the flavor.

I prefer parchment paper over aluminum foil because nothing ever sticks, which I can’t say the same for foil. I have also tried this in a muffin tin, but I wouldn’t recommend it. They tend to stick to the pan and never get crispy the way they do on a baking sheet.