Mirchi Pakora / Dry Masala Stuffed Chili Pepper Fritters
Knowing how much my husband loves mirchi pakoda I made some on friday night when his friends came over for nibbles and drinks. The weather was rainy and the deadly combination of chili pepper fritters with drinks was simply irresistible. Seriously, these dry masala stuffed mirchi pakodas are absolute dynamite that you should try once at least.
Mirch pakoda is a popular snack all over India and is prepared in almost every home. The uniqueness of these fritters is that, though the basic batter to fry is the same, the filling varies from one state to another. In Punjab it is usually stuffed with mashed potato and spices however my husband has no love for potatoes hence I use a stuffing made with seeds, spices and roasted besan (gram flour). Some people prepare without any filling at all.
Special type of long green chilies that have enough room for stuffing are used for this recipe. I’ll be honest I don’t eat those chili pakodas that are made with flaming hot chili peppers bought from Indian grocery stores. I personally love serrano peppers for their crisp, bright, and biting flavor with citrus undertones.These peppers will not put your mouth on fire. They do have some kick but its tolerable and you still feel good after eating them. These are best eaten as soon as they cool down just a little, as hot as you can take them, basically, the fresher they are, the crisper they taste. However, if they do get cold, place them on a baking tray, and you can reheat them quickly in a preheated 400 F oven for about 5 minutes, turning once, to get back some of the crispness.
These fritters are excellent eaten as a snack with sour cream and ketchup, or as a side dish to a South Asian entree.
- Wear disposable gloves while working with chili peppers.
- Choose a long variety of peppers (preferably straight) that are firm, blemish free, fatter and have a light bite to it, such as serrano.
- Serrano peppers range in medium heat zone of the scoville scale. They do not require the seeds to be removed but before getting started check the level of spiciness, if they are really hot remove the seeds and veins.
- Leave the stalks on, they look good on final product and help to hold while dipping in batter.
- Always sieve besan (gram flour) before measuring and mixing.
- Add water slowly to make a thick, pouring consistency batter (like heavy cream), so that it holds onto the pepper when dipped.
- Add a small amount of rice flour or corn starch to give additional crunch. I add corn starch, because it helps retain the crispiness even after the fritters cool.
- The stuffing is customizable, you can pick and choose your favorite ingredients. I use roasted besan which adds a wonderful depth of flavor. It is hard to toast 1 tbsp of besan. Usually, I store roasted besan in my pantry in an air tight container just like other flours. It can be used as a thickener for soups, and curries, and also for making cookies. Stay tuned, will share the recipe soon. So, to roast besan, what you can do is, place 1 cup besan or chickpea flour in a heavy bottomed pan. Cook, stirring continuously on medium heat, until it begins to turn a light tan color and smells nutty. Remove from heat and continue stirring for another minute or two to prevent scorching (the pan will still be hot). Let cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container.
- The ideal temperature for frying any fritters is between 350-375°F. The thermometer free method of checking is by dropping a small blob of batter in it. If the batter rise quickly to the surface and is covered in bubbles, then the oil is the right temperature. At that point you can slide in the peppers for frying, one at a time, making sure not to overcrowd. Essentially, when you overcrowd the pan, the temperature of the oil drops, and the pakoras won’t cook as evenly. .
- Leftover batter can be used for making delicious vegetbale pakodas. Add thinly sliced or finely chopped potato and onions, mix them well and drop tiny spoonful’s into the hot oil.
- Leftover spice mix, can be used to season pakoda batter or sautéed veggies for an additional flavor.
- 10-12 Serrano Chilies or other variety of pepper
- 1 tbsp. roasted besan (read notes)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ajwain/carom seeds
- 1 tsp sesame
- 1/2 tsp saunf /fennel seeds
- 1/8 tsp red chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 125 besan (1 1/4 cup) or chickpea flour (sifted before measuring)
- 25 g corn starch
- Salt to taste
- A pinch urmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- A pinch baking soda
- To above spices (skip besan) add boiled and mashed potato. Adjust seasoning and add extra lemon juice to give it tartness. Stuff potato mixture into slit chilies.
- Grind the stuffing mixture in a coffee grinder.
- Remove it in a bowl, add lemon juice and mix it well.
- Wash and pat dry the peppers.
- Make a slit vertically on one side of chilli pepper from the stalk end to the tip with a sharp knife (.At this stage, you can remove the seeds and veins if you want to cut down the spice level).
- Now take 1/2 tsp of the spice mix and stuff it in the pepper.
- Let the peppers rest for 10-15 mins while you prepare the batter.
- Take all the dry ingredients listed under batter except for the baking soda in a deep bowl, mix.
- Slowly add enough water to make a thick batter, the consistency of heavy cream. Add baking soda. Using a fork or whisk, beat the batter for a minute.This ensures your pakodas crispy and fluffy.
- Heat oil on medium in a wide kadai/pan for deep frying (to check, drop a tiny pinch of the batter into the oil and if it starts to sizzle and comes up quickly to the surface the oil is ready).
- Take the stuffed pepper, holding its stalk dip it into the batter, swirl it all around so the batter coats evenly. Hold your batter bowl closer to the kadai and gently slide the batter coated pepper into the oil, one at a time.
- Don't over crowd the pan, or they won't fry evenly. Deep fry, turning them a couple of times to ensure uniform frying all around. Once they reach a crispy, golden color, lift them with the help of slotted spoons and take them onto a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
- Serve them with a dip of of your choice - either sour cream or ketchup or mint chutney.