Pakoras are the number one guilty pleasure during Ramazan. Who can resist them? Served nice and hot with chutney, they deliver us to heaven, right on the dining table.
I'm not much of a cook, and I've never made desi food ever. But for the love of fried fritters, I decided to venture into the kitchen and cook up a batch of these crunchy goodies.
How hard could it be, I wondered as I took those unfamiliar steps towards the stove. If videos all over internet suggest that I'm capable of whipping up whole meals in minutes, all I had to do was follow what my mom says she does.
I regret that. I regret that so much. When you aren't the best cook in the world, a simple task like making pakoras can demand the will and strength of Hercules.
What normal people need to make pakoras: besan, onions, water, potato, coriander, oil.
What I needed to make pakoras: gloves, safety goggles, shields, prayers.
I insisted to my mother that I do everything myself. Summary: she was cringing throughout.
The pakora process
Pakora making begins simply enough. I went both hands in, mixing all the ingredients in a bowl. That was the fun part, a bit messy, but I didn't mind. The mixture ended up a bit too thick, but I thought it was nothing I couldn't handle.
It was when boiling hot oil entered the picture, that I realized all is not well with the world. It is a vicious place full of dangers and uncertainties, all disguised as innocent everyday things like oil in a karahi.
Apparently, there's a right temperature at which one pours a dollop of the pakora mixture into the pan. I did not know that temperature. I believe that oil cooks things when it's hot. That's how it's supposed to be! The oil, however, reacted with fury, splashing up every single time. It wasn't in its happy place yet.
Here's a rundown of my thoughts during the frying process: "Ouch! Dammit! Okay, okay I got thi- ouch! Holy! Why just why! Ow ow ow! How can you even jump that far up! I hate everything!"
All the while, I could hear my mom in the back, asking "Beta, main ajaoon?" That was actually helpful; it'd remind me I need to get this done, and by myself. (That didn't mean I couldn't whine about it!)
The pakoras produced
The first pakora batch was a little off. The extra hot oil had crisped up the outside too fast and left the inside mushy. I sighed a heavy sigh and decided to just give it one more go. Lowered the heat a little and went forth. The oil still hated me. With a passion.
But the pakoras turned out great! The parents ate them...willingly... even when I had my back turned. I can walk with my head held high that oh yeah, I made that happen. Yes, people may be climbing Everest, but I survived pakoras!
I am never doing that again.
This story was originally published in June, 2016.