Vegetable Pakoras

One of my favourite Indian foods are pakoras. I love this crispy, spicy, snack. It’s perfect as part of a meal, but equally good as a savoury treat. Eaten all over the Indian subcontinent they are a great way of using up bits of different vegetables, working well with cauliflower, courgettes, onions, potatoes, spinach, chard, aubergine…the list goes on. An added bonus for our family is that they’re inherently gluten free, due to their use of gram flour.

Simple in method, they do however need a few different herbs and spices to achieve the perfect pakora. For some, this would require a trip to the supermarket, or local ethnic shop (or both) to stock up on the necessary ingredients. I love having a range of spices in my cupboard, but sometimes the convenience of a spice mix is a godsend.  When I was recently contacted by Hari Ghotra about her Pakora curry kit, I thought I’d check it out.

The kit comes with all the spices and gram flour combined, and instuctions to make both vegetable and paneer pakora. There’s also a link to a video showing the process involved, but the recipe on the card is clear and easy to follow.  As mentioned before, pakora are very versatile, so I chose to use up a glut of courgettes, as well as some potatoes and onions. I love growing courgettes at the allotment, but if you look away for a moment, they seem  to grow in seconds, so another way to use them up is always handy. The one thing with using courgettes is that they have a lot of liquid in them, so after grating them they need to be squeezed of excess water, before combining them with the rest of the mix. Once your mixture is combined, it needs to be used pretty quickly, dropping spoonfuls into hot oil and frying until golden brown.

For a recipe which includes the spices needed to recreate the mix, see Hari Ghotra’s website, where you’ll also find a rnage of different curry kits and recipes to try. As a handy store cupboard emergency pack, these are pretty good. They certainly make it easy to turn a glut into a tasty, spicy treat.



Our allotment has, as regular readers will have realised, been pretty wet recently. Not great for getting jobs done, but it has been a real bonus for the mushroom spores which have been blown onto the allotment or hidden in the soil. All over the plot there are mushrooms popping up from between bits of wood chip, or from underneath some discarded leaves. Every time I see a new crop appearing I have an urge to pick them and turn them into a delicious mushroom dish. The problem is, that I know there are a good number of mushrooms which may result in my gorgeous ravioli, risotto, or mushrooms on toast, causing me to have a serious stomach ache!

I’ve found myself a solution to this mushroom dilemma though – grow mushrooms myself. And the people at the Espresso Mushroom Company provide the way of doing it. Fresh mushrooms for you to pick, without the risk of causing yourself to be ill. The added brilliance to the Espresso Mushroom Company’s kit is that the mushrooms are grown on recycled coffee grounds. Apparently, each of their Kitchen Garden kits contains coffee from 100 espressos. Meaning, that as that is more coffee than you’ll drink in the time it takes to grow three cycles of mushrooms, you are ‘coffee-neutral’! As an avid drinker of coffee, but concerned about the impact anything I consume has on the environment, the sustainability of this product is a real winner.

The kits themselves are incredibly simple and easy to get cropping. Just open the box, soak the coffee grounds and mushroom spores contained within a plastic bag in water, pop back in the box and wait. A daily spray of water will, after a week or so, see the mushrooms beginning to fruit. Within another week you will have a super crop of edible mushrooms (the delicious oyster mushroom in the case of the kit I had). As you can see from the photos above, you get a decent crop, and the slightly older mushrooms can always be dried and used as porcini if you don’t get round to eating them all. Fresh, safe to eat, mushrooms which you can pick from the comfort of home, what’s not to like.

The Espresso Mushroom Company provided me with one of their Kitchen Garden kits to review.