Culinary Class

Chef Maryam Ghaznavi Makes Vegetable Pakora | Video

By: The Local Palate
Maryam Ghaznavi Vegetable Pakora

Chef Maryam Ghaznavi is well known as an entrepreneurial force in Charleston for her Pakistani restaurant Malika Canteen and pop up Ma’am Saab. Ma’am Saab is what Ghaznavi refers to as a “funny take” on the term “boss lady,” which is perfectly fitting considering hers are the only Pakistani restaurants in all of the Holy City. She pulls her recipe inspiration from her mother’s kitchen and shares those flavors and memories with guests through both of her businesses. 

For our culinary class, Ghaznavi walks us through her recipe for vegetable pakora. This simple, yet irresistible recipe for vegetable fritters pairs well with an evening chai–an event that Ghaznavi’s family would share once the day is over. This easy-to-do recipe is a quick, delightful snack after a meal. 

A majority of Pakistani cooking uses chickpea flour, and these vegetable pakora are no exception. Ghaznavi’s trick for making ultra crispy, craggy pakora that remain fluffy and tender in the center is to use one part rice flour to the chickpea flour. These fritters pack in a variety of spices, and you can use the batter to coat any form of protein that you choose (not just vegetables). Ghaznavi’s prefers mixing spinach, red onion, and potatoes into the batter and frying to a deep golden brown. Finish the vegetable pakora with a dusting of chaat masala. “If you are going to get any spice, buy chaat masala”, Ghaznavi advises, saying that it is perfect on everything.


Serves 4 to 6

Vegetable Pakora heading-plus-icon

For the pakora
  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon kashmiri chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon dry fenugreek leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped serrano peppers
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups fresh chopped spinach
  • ½ cup chopped boiled potatoes
  • Oil
  • for frying
  • Chaat masala (from Shan
  • MDH or Spicewalla)
For the mint raita
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • ½ serrano pepper
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup full-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
Stirring batter for vegetable pakora

Step 1:

Make the Batter

In a medium bowl, combine chickpea flour, rice flour, and all of the spices except chaat masala. Add enough water to bring the mixture together into a thick batter. Add vegetables and mix until all are evenly coated in batter. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes.

Pulling fried vegetable pakora out of frying oil

Step 2:

Fry the Pakora

While pakora batter rests, heat oil in a deep pot or wok. Once oil is hot, around 300 to 350 degrees, use a spoon or ice cream scoop to carefully drop a tiny dollop of batter into pot. Remove once golden brown and taste for seasoning. Working in batches, drop small dollops of batter into oil and fry, flipping occasionally until golden brown. Transfer fritters to rack or paper towel to drain. Sprinkle chaat masala and fresh cilantro over each before serving.

Stirring raita, a condiment for vegetable pakora

Step 3

Make the Mint Raita

Using a mortar and pestle or knife, grind the fresh mint leaves and serrano. Add lemon juice and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk yogurt with ¼ cup of water. Combine yogurt with mint and cilantro mixture. Stir in sugar, cumin, and salt to taste.

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