One of the most stressful SuperClubs I have ever done, was at St Mary’s Wimbledon and I did an Indian themed dinner. The starter was Vegetable Pakoras and Onion Bhaajis. But for some reason, the oil, no matter how long I heated it for, would not get hot enough. I tried big pans, and little pans, I tried turning off all the other burners, even turned off the oven, but no matter what I did, the oil was not hot enough for frying. And with 70 people turning up for dinner and no starter …not much fun! Anyway, I guarantee, these are super simple and are stress free.
Cauliflower Pakora with Raita
1 medium-large cauliflower (about 800g), trimmed
Sunflower oil, for frying
For the batter
150g gram flour (chickpea flour)
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
A good shake of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
For the raita
6 heaped tablespoons plain (full-fat) yoghurt
A large handful of mint or you could try coriander, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the raita, mix all the ingredients together, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Cut the cauliflower into small florets, no more than 2cm across in any direction, discarding nearly all the stalk.
For the batter, put the gram flour, baking powder, ground spices and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine and get rid of any lumps. Slowly whisk in 175ml cold water, which should give you a smooth batter with a similar consistency to double cream. Add a little more water if necessary – different brands of gram flour will vary in how much they absorb.
Add the cauliflower florets to the batter and turn them, making sure they are all thoroughly coated.
Heat about a 3cm depth of oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough to turn a cube of white bread light golden brown in 30–40 seconds, start cooking the pakoras, a few at a time so you don’t crowd the pan. Place spoonfuls of battered cauliflower – just a few florets per spoonful – into the hot oil. Cook for about 2 minutes, until crisp and golden brown on the base, then turn over and cook for another minute or two.
Drain the pakoras on kitchen paper, then serve piping hot with the raita for dipping.