02 May, 2013

Twofer: Lazy Pakoras Light/ Carrot Mushroom Veggie Burgers

One of the most popular recipes on my blog is the one for Lazy Pakoras. I still regularly make these myself because they are so versatile and great to get protein into our diet.  I'm now a caregiver for my mom who has Parkinson's and that means getting healthy meals on the table 7 days a week, whether I feel like it or not.  I'm sure any of you in the same situation or cooking for a family can relate.  When I go to the fridge and don't see anything for dinner except a few carrots, straggly mushrooms, an end of green pepper, half an onion and a few cloves of garlic I don't wilt to the floor in despair because I know with the besan (chickpea) flour I always try to keep on hand I can make a tasty meal  -- acceptable to my rather picky omnivore mom -- that will also be healthy and moderate in calories.  And all in about 20 minutes or less, using my mini food processor.

I've made some modifications to the recipe over the years that I think improve it. I have reduced the oil to 2 teaspoons for a pan of 6 or 7 pakoras.  I have thinned the batter so it stays light and is crispier in texture. I found that if the water was too warm the chickpea flour would begin to cook and thicken too much and then the pakoras would be doughier in the centre and take longer to cook through. And I don't think they tasted as nice.

Finally, I now make veggie burgers with this dough. I just drop a few tablespoons into a rounded shape to get the size I like.  I serve them on Udi's whole grain bagels, split in two and toasted, with classic burger fixings.  You need to control the heat by reducing it to medium or lower so you can cook the burgers for a few minutes per side. They should be just a bit moist in the centre and well browned on two sides. These work especially well if you use about 4 medium cremini mushrooms as part of your veggies.  Finally, you may need to adjust the amount of chickpea flour depending on the kind that you buy.  It varies just like any flour does. Just start with the recipe amount and add more flour or more water as necessary.  If you make them a few times, you'll be able to tell how you like them best.

Here's the recipe:

Lazy Pakoras / Carrot Mushroom Veggie Burgers

Put into a bowl and mix together with a fork to blend:

1 and 1/2 cups chickpea flour (for a consistency that is like medium thick pancake batter)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional) or a few grindings of black pepper if you prefer OR add 1/3 of a jalapeno pepper to the veggies

 Stir in until uniformly moistened and it looks like pancake batter:

1 cup warm (not hot) water

In a food processor mince:

1/2 small onion
3-4 cloves garlic
1 medium carrot peeled and cut in small chunks
4 medium cremini mushrooms
1/4 average green pepper, chunked
1/3 Jalapeno or other pepper to taste (and omit cayenne) - optional

You'll need to do the veggies in batches if you have a small mini-processor like mine but it goes very quickly.  Stir in the veggies with a fork and make sure they are uniformly blended.

Into a well-seasoned cast iron frying pan put two teaspoons of oil to heat. Drop the pakoras from a tablespoon around the pan. Watch them and turn them over when you see little bubbles like pancakes, usually about a minute at high heat. Turn them over, reduce the heat and cook just until browned on the second side. You can cut one in two, or taste it, to see if it's done until you get used to this. You want the pakoras to be light and slightly crispy rather than heavy. They are really the texture of small pancakes this way. If you aren't worried about fat you can add 1 teaspoon more of oil to the pan when you turn them and this will make them crispier. (See the method here.)

The 6 or 7 pakoras come in at a very reasonable 107 calories (approximately). With the two teaspoons of oil they are about 167 calories. This makes one nice serving, with the addition of oven-fried french fries or a baked potato and a steamed vegetable. We always eat ours topped with a ribbon of ketchup, but chutney would be lovely.

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