All the taste of pakora with none of the draw-backs of deep-frying! These pakora-reminiscent crisps are full of kale and sprouted legumes for a tempting and tasty treat. Excellent as a starter, you can also make them a meal served with a green chutney, alongside some roasted plantain or parsnip spears. If desired, rice or polenta would be a nice addition too. The spicing is a toned-down version of Madhur Jaffrey’s spinach pakoras, from her fabulous book, Vegetarian India. And why tone down the spice? Besides the young diner at the lunch table, post-cleanse there’s still no nightshades (and hence chili pepper) permitted for the moment…
Yield: 2 servings as a main, 4 as a side
What you need:
- 4 cups tightly packed, thinly sliced kale (this is the time to use up the really tough old kale that you’re wondering what you can do with)
- 2 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 cup sprouted green or black gram (whole mung or urad dal. optional)
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro (or more)
- 6 tablespoons besan (chickpea flour)
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot (or cornstarch, or rice flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground, roasted cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon nigella seed (also called kalonji or onion seed. as a different but pleasing alternative, you could use mustard seed or coarsely crushed fennel seed instead)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (lots of it…)
- 6 tablespoons water
What you do:
- Preheat the oven to 425F and line an 11×17 pan with parchment paper or a silpat liner. If your two pans happen to be in the fridge proofing bagels as mine were, then two pizza pans will work as an adequate substitute.
- In a large bowl, combine the kale, shallots, sprouted beans and chopped cilantro.
- In a small bowl, mix the besan, arrowroot, ground cumin, nigella, salt and pepper. Whisk in the 6 tablespoons of water. The batter should be thick but flowing, if necessary, add a bit more water – but not too much – the mixture needs to coat the vegetables.
- Scrape all of the batter from the small bowl into the large one and mix to coat everything evenly; hands work best. It’ll look like there isn’t enough batter but don’t worry, it’ll bake up fine and the veggies will crisp up nicely that way. (If you prefer things heavy on the batter, you are welcome to double the coating recipe and leave the veggie proportions as is.)
- Spread the mixture in an even layer over the entire surface of the pan(s) and transfer to the oven. Bake 22 minutes, rotating the pans half-way if using more than one.
- Remove from the oven, let cool until the pieces can be handled. Tear apart into large “crisps” and serve.
- Replace the kale by an equivalent amount chard or of finely grated rutabaga, sweet potato, parsnip, beet or carrot – or a mixture thereof.