Chai Pani's green tomato pakoras with chutney spice up a Southern classic
About the recipe
Chai Pani, a restaurant serving vibrant Indian street food, started in Asheville, North Carolina, and now has a location in Decatur, Georgia. These curried green tomato pakoras are on the menu at the Georgia restaurant and help highlight the food of the Deccan Plateau in Southern India.
Make sure to follow the instructions regarding the thickness of the tomato slices. If the slices are too thick, the pakoras will be soggy.
3 large green tomatoes
2 cups chickpea flour
1 tablespoon green chili (serrano or jalapeno, for example) minced
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
Pinch of ajwain seeds (optional)
Pinch of asafoetida (optional)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
Oil for frying
Green chutney (recipe follows)
Using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice the green tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Put tomatoes aside.
For the batter:
In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add in the warm water a little at a time and mix so that the batter has no lumps. Whisk until smooth.
In a skillet, heat enough oil to shallow fry or deep fry. Once hot, turn heat to medium to maintain heat without overheating.
Place 6-7 slices of tomato in a bowl. Add just enough batter to give a thin coating (it’s very important not to over-batter, the pakoras will get cakey).
Mix tomatoes and batter by hand. You should still be able to see the green of the tomato through a thin, lacey coating of batter.
Carefully place the tomatoes, one by one, in the hot oil and fry.
After a minute or so, carefully flip over each tomato. Once golden on the edges, remove pakoras onto a towel or absorbent paper. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes.
For the green chutney:
2 cups cilantro (leaves and stems), chopped
1 cup mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped small
1 Thai or other hot chili pepper (use 2 if you like spicier), rough chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/4 teaspoon roasted cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon water
1/4 cup yogurt
Combine all ingredients except yogurt in a small pitcher and blend until smooth with a hand mixer or process until very finely chopped in a food processor.
Add the contents to a bowl.
Whisk in the 1/4 cup yogurt and chill.
This chutney will keep for three days in the refrigerator.