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Holiday Pakoras

By Nancy Eisman

Originating from the Indian subcontinent, many varieties of pakoras are naturally plant-based, pretty simple to make, and crowd pleasing. These fritter-like little clumps of chopped veggies, coated in a garbanzo flour batter, can be made with any combination of veggies, tubers, herbs, spices, and green or mature onions on hand.

The first version is a Hanukkah pakora, a take on a traditional latke. Omitting the usual eggs from the classic tater pancake, I included some purple potatoes for their blue hue which is the main color of the 8-day celebration. Served with a dairy-free sour cream and your favorite applesauce, elevated with a bit of Indian spices, they are so good that you’ll want to dance when lighting the holiday candles. Have you noticed that pakora rhymes with menorah and hora?

For the Christmas pakoras we’re making sure the colors of the season are front and center. A combination of white fioretto, green kale sprouts, and red gypsy peppers are battered, fried, and served with a dark red cranberry chutney, and a vivid green mixed herb dipping sauce. Skip the milk and cookies and leave Santa some of these Xmas pakoras with a nice cup of chai.

Use these recipes as a guide, or mix, match, or swap in or out whatever you like. The quantity can also be modified to serve a small group or a large festive crowd. Either way, make more than you think you’ll need because these fried bundles are a gourmet gift sure to please.

P.S. Ok, homemade chutneys are kind of time consuming, so feel free to use your favorite jarred versions.

Hanukkah Pakoras


Ingredients for Batter

2 cups garbanzo flour
1 ½ tablespoons dried crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Cold water


Ingredients for Filling

½ large white onion, thinly sliced

2 cups purple potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Vegetable oil for frying
Sea salt for sprinkling

Sour Cream:

Ingredients for Sour Cream

1 cup non-dairy sour cream or unsweetened plain dairy-free yogurt
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 scallion, minced

Mix the sour cream ingredients together and adjust seasoning if desired.

Spicy Apple Sauce:

Ingredients for Spicy Apple Sauce

1 cup apple sauce
pinch of cardamom
pinch of ginger
pinch of sea salt
pinch of white pepper

Add the spices to the apple sauce and blend until completely incorporated. Adjust seasoning if desired.

Christmas Pakoras

Same ingredients as above, plus ½ cup chopped cilantro

Same ingredients as above, plus ½ cup chopped cilantro


1 ½ cups fioretto (flowering cauliflower), cut in half 1 ½ cups kale sprouts
¾ cup gypsy peppers, seeded and cut in strips

Cranberry Chutney:

Ingredients for Cranberry Chutney

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup red onion, minced
1 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup cider vinegar
½ cup cranberry juice
¼ cup orange juice
¾ cup granulated sugar
pinch of cloves
pinch of allspice
pinch of sea salt
pinch of red pepper flakes

Sauté the onion in the vegetable oil about 3 minutes. Add the ginger and sauté another minute.

Sauté the onion in the vegetable oil about 3 minutes. Add the ginger and sauté another minute. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes until cranberries are rehydrated and mixture has thickened. Let cool.

Mixed Herb Dipping Sauce:

Ingredients for Mixed Herb Dipping Sauce

1 cup fresh mint
1 cup fresh cilantro
½ cup arugula
2 tablespoons Jalapeno Pepper, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Water for thinning

Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until well blended. Add water 1 teaspoon at a time until mixture reaches the consistency of pesto.

Making the Pakoras

To make the pakoras, prepare each batter by sifting the listed ingredients (except the water) together in 2 separate bowls. Gradually add cold water and blend until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter.

For the Hanukkah pakoras, add the onions and potatoes to the batter and stir to coat.

For the Christmas pakoras, add the fioretto, kale sprouts, and gypsy peppers to the other batter and stir to coat.

Pour vegetable oil into a heavy bottom, medium sized stock pot, and heat the oil until a drop of the batter into the oil sizzles, about 5 minutes.

Fill a tablespoon or so with the battered mixture and carefully place in the hot oil.

Fill a tablespoon or so with the battered mixture and carefully place in the hot oil. You should be able to fit at least 4 pakoras into the pot at the same time. Fry about 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown, and then remove them to a paper towel lined platter or pan. Sprinkle the pakoras with sea salt as they drain. Continue frying the remaining batter.
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