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Let’s be real, everyone loves a good indulgence. Whether it’s binge-watching your favorite tv show or cozying up with a sweet treat, there are plenty of ways to treat yourself. For me, it usually involves cooking up something tangy, spicy and deep fried. Yes, I know that deep-fried foods have a bad rap, but I think it's okay to enjoy them once in a while. It’s monsoon season back in India, which means the cold and gloomy weather calls for piping hot pakodas! These are a popular street food that are made of vegetables or meats coated with a batter, then deep-fried and served with a variety of chutneys.
At home, my mother would prepare these with onions, sliced potatoes, spinach leaves, stuffed long green chilies, paneer cubes and eggplant. In this recipe, I am using three kinds of spring produce from our local farmers market—ramps, stinging nettle leaves, and green beans. Ramps also known as wild leeks, are only available for a few weeks in New York. They taste slightly stronger than leeks but milder than a spring onion. Try to get your hands on some if you can! (Though, if you can’t find them, feel free to substitute scallions.)
Stinging nettle is actually a wild weed that tastes like a cross between spinach and artichokes. They have bright green leaves with fine hairs that poke like needles when you touch them with your bare hands. Don’t panic! They are totally edible, you’ll just need to wear gloves when handling them. Usually, they are first boiled to get rid of the spikes and then sautéed or brewed into a tea. You can skip that here because we coat and deep-fry the leaves.
Lastly, I decided to incorporate some French green beans, simply because I really like them and they are so tasty during this time of year. All dipped in a batter of chickpea flour, rice flour, cayenne, salt, turmeric and caraway seeds, it’s a gluten free snack you’ll love.
Let’s chat frying. It is important to keep the temperature of the oil to 350ºF in order to get a crispy golden brown crust and allow for the veggies to fully cook. Then, you're ready to get dipping in this green chutney, made up of cilantro, lime juice, cumin, yogurt, salt and a green chili for a kick. Basically, it’s the perfect combination for these fried treats. This chutney is my secret weapon for when I want to liven things up and you can truly pair it with so many things! Use your favorite vegetables and make these Spring Vegetable Pakodas with Spicy Green Chutney to kick off your summer!