I had some fresh spinach in the fridge what was beginning to turn so thought that making some spinach pakoras would be the perfect way to save them and accompany my homemade chickpea and coriander soup. I always have tinned chickpeas in my store cupboard as I find them so useful to throw into a number of dishes, be it a casserole, soup or salad. Similarly I had some fresh coriander that needed eating so decided to throw them into the soup as well to add a lovely balance.
This whole meal takes a short time to prepare so is great to cook for a light lunch or a speedy supper when you have had a hard day at work. The soup does have a very satisfying kick, so if you prefer a less chilli buzz just reduce the amount of dried chillies you use. If you do use the same amount as me you’ll find that the yoghurt softens the chilli a little making the soup very satisfying and delicious.
Pakoras – vegetables dipped in a spiced batter and then fried – are a hugely popular snack in the Indian sub-continent. Whilst perhaps not the most healthy out there they are extremely moorish and addictive. In India you will find numerous street stalls selling them in little paper cones, similar to the one that I prepared for the photos above. They are rather similar to my coriander fritters which I posted a couple of years ago on this blog – see here. Get creative and try making them with a mixture of vegetables. I’ll show you how to make different types in time. Watch this space.
80g chickpea flour
1 pinch of baking powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
160g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
vegetable oil for deep frying
1. To make the batter mix the water, chickpea flour, baking powder, turmeric, chilli powder and salt together in a bowl. If the batter is still a little too thick simply add an extra drop of water.
2. Add the fresh spinach leaves to the bowl of batter and mix in thoroughly.
3. In a deep pan or karahi heat some vegetable oil. When it is hot – you can test by placing a pinch of flour into the oil and if it fizzes then it is ready, add a tablespoonful of the spinach batter. Depending on the size of your pan you can do a number at a time. Leave the pakora to cook for a minute before turning over for a further minute. They should have gently bronzed by this time.
4. Place on a plate with kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil. Eat whilst still hot.
Spiced Chickpea and Coriander Soup
4 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
5 large dried red chilli
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
4 tbsp olive oil
650g fresh tomatoes, boiled to remove the skins
50g fresh coriander
2x400g tins of chickpeas, drained and pureed using a hand blender
1 tsp turmeric powder
6 tbsp yoghurt
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
1. Place the cumin and coriander seeds and dried red chilli in a warmed up frying pan and move around the pan for a minute to realise the flavours. Place into a spice grinder along with the desiccated coconut and whizz to form a powder.
2. Having removed the skins of the fresh tomatoes (I find boiling them for a couple of minutes allows the skins to be easily removed) place them in a blender along with the chickpeas and fresh coriander.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large deep pan and when it is hot add the spiced powder along with the turmeric powder and stir around for 30 seconds before add the pureed chickpeas/tomatoes and coriander.
4. After a minute add the water and stir together well. Simmer on a medium heat for 15 minutes and then add the yoghurt, lemon juice and salt to taste.
Serve with the spinach pakoras on the side for a tasty vegetarian meal. I often tend to make chapatis as well to dip into the soup.