Cooking with leftovers: Zucchini pakoras

Zucchini Pakoras

So, how are everyone’s New Years resolutions going? Believe it or not, I actually kind of made some this year after a lifetime of dismissing resolutions as stupid. I didn’t set out specific goals (which I realize is what everyone tells you you should do), but I did tell myself that I would take steps to be more organized — planning ahead more, taking an inventory of the things I have, tracking my habits, not allowing myself to get away with laziness.

We’re only 18 days into the new year and I can already see some payoff — of course, this might  mean that we’re totally capable of falling off the wagon. But let’s just take some time to celebrate some positive changes Jarrod and I have made, which include:

  • Trying more new food;
  • Taking homemade lunch to work every. day;
  • Using our leftovers more effectively;
  • Overall just eating more healthily.

We’re already pretty healthy eaters, but I think the fourth point is more or less a consequence of the first three. Who can tell me that a veggie burrito is healthier than the couscous, pepita and veggie salad I’m literally chowing down on right. now?!!?

For what it’s worth, we’ve also found that these new endeavours aren’t taking as long as we though they would. Prepping salads in the morning takes about five minutes (it helps that couscous is insanely easy to cook and you can do it at work, which both of us do) and we get to enjoy some of the romance of food prep in the kitchen together in the morning rather than just the evening. Pretty sweet!

Okay, I should also acknowledge that we’re helped greatly by this gift that my mom got us for Christmas last year which lets us shred carrots and zucchinis and everything else almost instantly. And lest you think I’m totally being paid to promote it, you got that one hella wrong because I can’t remember what it’s called. So there.

Anyway, what do you do when you have a fridge full of veggies that don’t quite go together and you’re sick of salads?

Throw ’em together and make pakoras?

Jar and I always have chickpea flour on hand because it goes in our seitan recipe, and really, pakoras can be done with many combinations of vegetables. It’s just a matter of whether or not you want to bother deep-frying. Keep in mind we don’t own a deep-fryer, so if you’re going to do the deep-fry method, I’d recommend:

  • Have a deep-ass pot (of course);
  • Buy a screen to protect yourself and your surroundings from the oil;
  • Have some jars so you can re-use your (clean) oil a couple times;
  • Having a thermometer to ensure that your oil does not get too hot;
  • Have a way of safely disposing of your oil.

If you don’t feel comfortable deep-frying, or you think it’ll ruin your #cleaneating resolutions, you can use this same mixture and make mini-chickpea pancakes. Which would technically make this a breakfast food, right?

New hashtag idea: #deepfriedbreakfast. An indulgence I can get behind.

Anyway, feel free to change up the veggies and add things like bits of cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms or spinach. The whole point of this is to use what’s in your fridge. I will say onions are pretty much essential to this, and I can’t see tomatoes turning out all that well, but the best part of this was that the shredded texture of the carrots and zucchinis made these somewhere between a pakora and a latke.

Without further Apu, here’s the Leftover Lovers’ Pakoras!

Leftover Lovers’ Zucchini Pakoras

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 3-5 minutes per pakora
Yield: About 10 large pakoras
Allergen info: Gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy free
Kitchen tools required: Knives and cutting board, grater, extra-large pot, screen for deep-frying, slotted ladle, thermometer (preferably)

Ingredients

  • 250-375 ml (1-1.5 cups) chickpea flour
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) turmeric
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) curry powder
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) garlic powder
  • 1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) black salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 125-250 ml (1/2-1 cup) water, or more as needed
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 a large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 a large zucchini, shredded
  • One to two litres of vegetable or canola oil, depending on depth of pot

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat. Be very careful with this step. Ideally you should have a thermometer to check every now and then to ensure that it doesn’t go over 350 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer handy, watch it vigilantly to ensure no smoking. Keep covered with a screen as much as possible, and never stand directly over the pot.
  2. Make the batter by combining the chickpea flour, spices and water. I’ve left the water amount vague depending on how thick you like it, so I’d recommend starting at a half-cup and adding gradually as you go.
  3. Add your shredded veggies and mix until all generously covered in the batter.
  4. Using a slotted/perforated ladle, scoop up your pakoras in small clumps (somewhere between bite-sized and fist-sized) spoon a couple pakoras at a time into your hot oil. This may sound obvious, but just in case there are some deep-frying novices out there: do not drop them in. Spoon them in carefully, leaving no room for any kind of splashing. Seriously.
  5. Deep-fry your pakoras for about three to five minutes each or until golden brown. Using the slotted ladle, transfer them to a plate generously covered in paper towels.
  6. Once all have finished, let cool for several minutes and chow down with your favourite sweet-and-sour or tamarind sauce, or a creamy sauce!

Let me know if this adventure in deep-frying is fun and easy or horrifically stressful to you — or if you ended up playing it safe with the pancakes!

About Bree Rody-Mantha

Chronically sarcastic ethical vegan living in Toronto. Unapologetically open about my struggles with mental health. Climber, dancer, journalist. They say I’m “quirky.”


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