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Celebrate monsoon with the traditional cousins, crispy pakoras and a hot cup of cardamom tea

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When you get greeted by warm monsoon raindrops falling on your face. Adorning the atmosphere with a breeze and smell of mud. The rising aroma of Pakoras and sweet cardamom chai from the kitchen is an amazing feeling. The smell of rain, thunder and lightning is almost synonymous with that of vegetable pakoras and a brew of cardamom tea. This is truly a match made in heaven.

simple pakora batter can be used to embellish any seasonal vegetable of choice, traditionally made with thinly sliced potatoes, onion rings, aubergines or green chilies. While Pakistanis are known to enjoy chai up to 10 times a day, you would think that in such humid and hot weather, a cold beverage would be more craved for, but there is something rather comforting about the sweetness of cardamom and sugar with hot milk tea.

This combination of pakoras and chai is a real pick-me-up, with a kick of chilli and a hint of spice. It is enjoyed in the winter as much as in the summers. And mainly it personifies the joys of the monsoon season in Pakistan.

Seasonal vegetable pakoras

Fried until golden and crispy, these are healthier (a bit) if shallow fried!

It takes about 15 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients:

  • Batter:

  • Chickpeas flour- 100 grams

  • Rice flour – 50 grams (not ground rice)

  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp (dry roasted)

  • Salt – 1 tsp

  • Turmeric – ­¼ tsp

  • Red chilli powder- ½ tsp

  • Tap water

  • Vegetable oil to shallow fry

  • Aubergines – 5 to 6 slices (split)

  • Red onion – ½ (cut into thin rings)

  • To garnish:

  • Mint leaves – 1 tsp (finely chopped)

  • Green chilli – 1 (sliced thinly)

  • Chaat masala – 1 tsp

Method:

1. Whip up the batter ingredients into a thick texture by slowly adding water.

2. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan (use according to preference, I prefer shallow fry). Keep the oil on medium heat.

3. Dip each slice of vegetable in the batter until coated evenly.

4. Dip into hot oil and fry each side until its colour changes to light brown.

5. Drain on kitchen paper and serve, garnished with chopped mint leaves and sliced green chilli, along with chaat masala (substitute chaat masala with a sprinkling of red chilli powder and ground cumin).

Cardamom and cinnamon Chai

 

Generally served sweet which is meant to wake you up and give you energy to face the day!

It takes about 10 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients:

  • Strong tea leaves (Assam or Kenya) – 2 tbsp

  • Water – ½ pint

  • Whole milk- ½ pint

  • Cardamom – 4 pods

  • Cinnamon – ½  slick (2 inches long)

  • Sugar to taste

Method:

1. In a saucepan, heat the water on medium flame until it boils.

2. Turn down the flame and add tea leaves, cardamom and cinnamon, and brew on a low flame.

3. Once the tea leaves release its colour, add the milk and bring to boil again.

4. When the milk has reached the boil, strain and serve immediately.

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