• Spinach pakora with tamarind and mint chutneys (China Squirrel)Source: China Squirrel

My mum taught me this pakora recipe. The chickpea dough is quite dry, not like a batter at all, so when they are fried, they get extra crisp on the outside, while still being nice and soft in the centre. I've added coconut milk to make the flavours pop.






Skill level

Average: 1.3 (590 votes)


  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • lemon wedges, to serve 



  • ½ small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 long green chilli, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch English spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups chickpea (besan) flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 400 ml coconut milk 


Tamarind chutney

  • 250 g tamarind pulp (soft and seedless)
  • 1 tsp aniseed
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ajwain (carom) seeds (see Note)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) water
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger


Mint chutney

  • ½ bunch mint, leaves picked
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • ½ small green chilli, roughly chopped

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


For the pakoras, combine the ingredients in a large bowl to form semi-dry clumps. Set aside.

For tamarind chutney, in a small bowl, soak the tamarind pulp in some water for 15 minutes.

Using a mortar and pestle, coarsely grind the aniseed, fennel seeds and ajwain together.

Bring 250 ml water to the boil in a small saucepan, add the sugar and reduce to syrup consistency. Remove from the heat.

Blend the tamarind pulp, adding enough of the soaking water, about 125 ml (½ cup), to form a smooth thick consistency. Add to the sugar syrup and spice mixture, season with salt, and pulse to combine, thinning with more soaking water as necessary to form a chutney consistency.

To fry the pakoras, heat the vegetable oil to 180ºC. Drop 6 cm-diameter rounds into the oil, in batches, and deep-fry until golden. Remove and drain on paper towel.

For the mint chutney, blend the mint, garlic, chilli and salt with a little bit of water till a smooth, thick paste. Set aside.

Serve the pakoras with the chutneys and lemon wedges.


Cook’s notes

• Ajwain (carom) seeds are available from Indian grocers.


Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel


This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.

This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.