Trip to the middle east with Afghan style Pakora (Pakawra) e Badenjan (Aka Fried Eggplant with Yogurt and Meat Sauce)
Pakora (Pakawra) is one of those things that if you ever eat at a Afghan restaurant you’ll walk out saying “damn that was good, why haven’t I eaten that before?”. Essentially it’s just battered and fried vegetables but in a middle-eastern style. I admit that normally I’m not a huge fan of eggplant, the first time we ate this we had ordered the potato version and they messed up our order bringing us the eggplant version. At first we were upset then after two bites we both kind of just laughed and both agreed that this was way better. So I got to work on learning how to replicate it at home which was a journey but here we are.
- The complete dish is three layers and three recipes. The complete dish CAN be prepared both vegan and vegetarian simply by removing a layer.
- The batter is flavored in a middle eastern style, the dish CAN be replicated without the same seasonings to simply fry some vegetables.
- Also included is a version that involves using zucchini and potato to make sort of a appetizer/dipper version.
- The Yogurt sauce is the same that we used in the Kadu, aka Sweet Pumpkin.
- Large Eggplant
- Feel free to use a smaller eggplant, zucchini, potato, or any other vegetables that strike your fancy.
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1 Cup Water
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Coriander
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic (crushed)
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne (more if you like it spicy)
- 1 Tablespoon Paprika
- 2 C plain yogurt (we used lowfat, which was fine)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Small-Medium Onion
- 1 Pound Ground Beef (or whatever meat you feel like)
- 1 Teaspoon Pepper
- 16 Ounce Can Tomato Sauce
- 1 Teaspoon Crushed Garlic
- 1 Teaspoon Coriander
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 1/2 Cups Water
1) The Batter
Not much to it really, add all the powders together, add the water as you whisk. You want to let this rest at least 30 minutes before using it, which is why I’m listing it first, get it out of the way then go to everything else.
2) Yogurt Sauce
Another thing you kinda just want to have done before you really start playing with fire. Just combine the ingredients and give em a quick whisk/blend.
3) Meat Sauce (Takes 25 minutes)
If you’re going for a more vegetarian type vibe then feel free to omit this step.
First up, heat your frying pan and toss the meat in there to brown. We are making a sauce out of this so I try to mince it up as tiny as possible. For stuff like pasta I prefer a chunkier sauce but for this I prefer it smaller, your call.
This might sound weird to you but get your onion, and 1/2 cup of water. Chop it up, put it in a blender, and make a complete puree out of it. Add your spices on top, blend again. Once your meat is nice and brown, pour in the onion puree into it. We want the flavor but not the chunks.
Next add your tomato sauce and stir it up. It should be very liquidy.
Let it simmer on medium or medium low for 20-25 minutes until its nice and thick, like a middle eastern sloppy joe. That’s it, this is your meat sauce….now that I think of it this might actually be really good with Sloppy Joe…hmm….
4) Frying and Combining
If you’re going for a appetizer/dipper type vibe then slice up a smaller eggplant, some zucchini, and some potato. If you’re using potato, let the slices boil for like 5-10 minutes so they dont come out raw. If you’re going dinner, then get a big eggplant and slice it up, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick (just under 1 cm).
Get your dipping station together, heat your oil to about 300-350 degrees, get a plate and put some flour on it. Dip vegetable into flour to lightly dust it, dip into batter, drop as lightly as you can into the oil.
After about 2 minutes flip the veggies over in the oil, then give them another 2-3 minutes until you have a really nice golden brown. Put them on a wire rack, if you can face up, to let the oil leak off/dry. If you just lay them out they will get soggy and be ruined.
Assembly time, pretty basic to be honest. Put slice on plate, put heaping spoonfull of yogurt on top, follow that with meat, garnish as you wish…maybe some leftover mint or some green onions…or nothing at all, whatever. If you’re going dipper/appetizer style then just arrange on a plate as you see fit with yogurt for dipping.
There you have it, as close to authentic Afghan style Pakora as you will be able to get anywhere, Pakora-e-Badenjan if you’re doing eggplant to be specific.