easy peasy pakora and a quick story about food waste

Yesterday was a snack kind of day, so it made sense that I would continue the movement through dinner. I had recently gone grocery shopping and had purchased a bag of mini zucchini (so cute!) Quick side story, if you are ever in Western Massachusetts and specifically the Amherst/Hadley/Northampton area please check out Maple Farm Foods in Hadley! They have a great selection of produce and ethnic food, and a whole section devoted to produce that is either over-ripe or appears to have a superficial defect (bruised or dirty veggies, etc.) grouped in bags of at least five or more items. The best part is that the entire bag of goodies is marked down to the price of 99 cents! Safe to say, this is a post-grad’s dream, and the food is still very delicious. I hope to see more of these types of initiatives in grocery stores and markets, as both the producer and consumer benefit by reducing food waste and increasing food accessibility and affordability. France  is a prime example of a country in support of the elimination of food waste via legislation. Although this may not work in the U.S., due to various economic/legislative reasons, many have been inspired by France’s action, including Whole Foods and Hungry Harvest, a company featured on the show entrepreneurship-themed ABC show Shark Tank (okay, I am guilty to Cam got me hooked on this one).

Once I started to become vegan, I immediately searched for egg alternatives, as I was used to having an omelet or scramble almost everyday for breakfast. I stumbled upon a recipe for a chickpea pancake, which I will definitely post on this blog in the near future, which served a similar purpose as an omelet and tasted so delicious. The primary ingredient is chickpea flour, which has become a frequent addition in many of my meals, and is indeed included in the recipe for pakoras. Chickpea flour, also known as gram flour, garbanzo bean flour, or besan, is a very common ingredient in many South Asian, Southeast Asian, and East Asian dishes. Chickpea flour is both a great egg and wheat flour substitute, and has many benefits including high fiber content, which is good for digestion, blood sugar stabilization and diabetes prevention, heart health, and the list goes on. (More discussion of chickpea flour will be mentioned in the future chickpea omelet blog post).

Now back to the mini zucchini…..One of my new favorite sites to use to find new recipes is http://yummly.com/, which is essentially a user-friendly database of recipes from various food blogs/sites all over the . I typed in zucchini and found a pakora recipe that met my snack needs. I have always been a huge fan of Indian food and while I was growing up would often frequent the Indian restaurant in my town, which was known for having a very cheap and diverse lunch buffet, which was where I tried pakora for the first time. These little veggie fritters are very simple and quick to make as well as customizable for your palate (in the future I hope to add more veggies, potentially spicy peppers to the mix).

Zucchini Pakora Recipe (Adapted from Autostraddle):

Makes about 8-10 Pakora

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of chickpea flour ( I use Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 cup of zucchini, small dice
  • 1 cup of cilantro, diced
  • Olive or canola oil, use to your discretion
  • Optional veggies to include in the mix: onions, jalapeño peppers, bell peppers.
  • Optional: Hot sauce and/or chutney on the side.

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until a thick dough forms.
  2. Heat pan or griddle to medium heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom. You will add more as you see fit.
  3. By using a tablespoon or ice cream scooper, place dollops of the dough on the hot pan, pressing down a little to flatten them and fry until crispy.

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