Yogurt-Besan Curry with Spinach Pakoras

This dish is comfort food to our family, the kind that takes you back to childhood dinner tables and, potentially, beyond.  With some of our Indian recipes, it's fair to say our ancestors ate these very same things -- our parents, grand-parents and great-grandparents, at minimum.  That a single meal can connect us to some something so significant is truly awesome to us.   Here in New England, there is nothing more warming or nourishing or, quite simply, fulfilling than this aromatic and subtle yogurt curry. We've used a Sanjeev Kapoor recipe from How to Cook Indian, but held back on dried red chilies and oil for frying the pakoras, as we used an air fryer.  We also used a 2-tablespoon coffee scoop to shape our pakoras, but any kind of scoop, or even a spoon, will work.   

Pakoras
 ¾ cup besan (chickpea flour)
 1 red onion, finely chopped
 1 fresh ginger, grated
 1 tsp ajwain (carroway seed)
 ¼ tsp baking powder
 ½ tsp table salt
Yogurt Curry
 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
 ¼ cup besan (chickpea flour)
 1 tsp turmeric
 1 ½ tsp table salt
 2 tbsp vegetable oil
 fenugreek seeds, to taste (we put 1/4 teaspoon, as these can be bitter)
 ½ tsp cumin seeds (we put more, as we love them)
 6 whole black peppercorns
 1 red onion, chopped
 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1

Begin by prepping your pakoras. Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a medium bowl; stir everything together; it will be a lumpy but consistent mixture of dry ingredients. Pre-heat an air fryer to 250 degrees for about five minutes.

2

Slowly add 1/4 cup of water to make a wet, soft batter. Continue to prep your air fryer by greasing the fryer basket with olive oil spray. Then, fill a 2-tablespoon scoop with pakora batter and drop them onto your air fryer basket. Air fry the pakoras for 12 minutes at 355 degrees, then for 5 minutes at 250. Some recipes recommend flipping the pakoras at the time when you decrease the temperature. Remove pakoras from the fryer when they look golden and crisp! If you don't have an air fryer, you will want to fry the pakoras in 3 cups of a good vegetable oil on high heat.

3

For the yogurt curry, whisk together your yogurt, besan, tumeric, salt, and the three cups of water in a large bowl. Set aside.

4

In a dutch oven, heat your oils and fry the fenugreek seeds, cumin, and peppercorns. If using red chilies, add them to this mix, as well. When the seeds begin to sputter, add the onion and ginger; saute until the onions become translucent.

5

When the aromatics are fragrant, add your yogurt mixture and bring to a boil; then, lower the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The curry should thicken in that time into the consistency of a good vegetable pureé. Leave uncovered.

6

To serve, place a few pakoras in a bowl of yogurt curry and serve with rice.

Ingredients

Pakoras
 ¾ cup besan (chickpea flour)
 1 red onion, finely chopped
 1 fresh ginger, grated
 1 tsp ajwain (carroway seed)
 ¼ tsp baking powder
 ½ tsp table salt
Yogurt Curry
 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
 ¼ cup besan (chickpea flour)
 1 tsp turmeric
 1 ½ tsp table salt
 2 tbsp vegetable oil
 fenugreek seeds, to taste (we put 1/4 teaspoon, as these can be bitter)
 ½ tsp cumin seeds (we put more, as we love them)
 6 whole black peppercorns
 1 red onion, chopped
 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

1

Begin by prepping your pakoras. Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a medium bowl; stir everything together; it will be a lumpy but consistent mixture of dry ingredients. Pre-heat an air fryer to 250 degrees for about five minutes.

2

Slowly add 1/4 cup of water to make a wet, soft batter. Continue to prep your air fryer by greasing the fryer basket with olive oil spray. Then, fill a 2-tablespoon scoop with pakora batter and drop them onto your air fryer basket. Air fry the pakoras for 12 minutes at 355 degrees, then for 5 minutes at 250. Some recipes recommend flipping the pakoras at the time when you decrease the temperature. Remove pakoras from the fryer when they look golden and crisp! If you don't have an air fryer, you will want to fry the pakoras in 3 cups of a good vegetable oil on high heat.

3

For the yogurt curry, whisk together your yogurt, besan, tumeric, salt, and the three cups of water in a large bowl. Set aside.

4

In a dutch oven, heat your oils and fry the fenugreek seeds, cumin, and peppercorns. If using red chilies, add them to this mix, as well. When the seeds begin to sputter, add the onion and ginger; saute until the onions become translucent.

5

When the aromatics are fragrant, add your yogurt mixture and bring to a boil; then, lower the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The curry should thicken in that time into the consistency of a good vegetable pureé. Leave uncovered.

6

To serve, place a few pakoras in a bowl of yogurt curry and serve with rice.

Yogurt-Besan Curry with Spinach Pakoras
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