Sunday, April 19, 2015

Foraged Ramp Pakoras with Tomato Onion Chutney

Apparently this is the first Indian dish I have made for this site, which is strange as Indian is actually the cuisine I prepare most often, about once a week. Indian food is great, especially if you like vegetarian. It can seem daunting to start preparing Indian cuisine, because of the long list of spices and seemingly difficult ingredients, but it's well worth it. And you can get everything you need in one trip to an Indian market. The spices keep for a while, as do things like gluten-free besan (chickpea/garbanzo flour) and basmati rice. Plus the seasonings used, like ginger and turmeric, are incredibly good for you--we are only just starting to fully understand all the health benefits.

These pakoras are crazy good, and I made them very well seasoned. This is a large batch, making 10--serving 5-10 people as an appetizer; feel free to cut the batch in half. Omitting the jalapeno will remove the heat, but the other spices are definitely strong, so feel free to cut down on them as well. If you decide to make the chutney, it should be prepared first, and allowed to come to room temperature. I also served these with plain yogurt and a pinch of cilantro, but next time I would use Greek yogurt and make a raita (a seasoned yogurt with cucumber).

Looking to find ramps (wild leeks) or not sure of what you have? Check out my post on how to find, identify and ethically harvest ramps.

Tomato Onion Chutney

This should be made before the pakoras, and allowed to come to room temperature before serving
1 medium/large red onion, diced
3 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1 star anise
3 green cardamon pods, smashed with a knife
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp seasoned rice or cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
  1. Heat a non-stick pan to medium heat. Add the anise, cardamon and fennel. Toast lightly, gently stirring the seasonings. 
  2. Add enough oil to cook the onion. Then add the onion and cook over medium high heat until translucent and lightly caramelized. 
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, lower the heat to medium, and cook until the tomatoes start to loose their structure, release their liquid and cook down into the onions. (About 4-5 minutes). Then stir in the vinegar, salt and sugar.
  4. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, and the dish has a good consistency. Then remove the star anise and cardamon pods, and set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature as a condiment.

Ramp Pakoras

Makes 10, serves 5-10 as an appetizer
4 cups thinly sliced ramp leaves
2 cups basan (chickpea or garbanzo bean) flour
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, innards removed and minced, optional (omit for less heat)
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp garam masala (I get mine here
1 tsp mild or hot curry powder (I get mine here
oil for frying
  1. Rinse the ramps and cilantro in a colander, add the minced peppers, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Toss to coat, then set aside for 10-15 minutes, and allow to drain.
  2. This is the consistency you are looking for
    In a large bowl, mix the chickpea flour with the spices and 1/2 tsp of salt. (Do not add salt if your garam masala blend is already salted). Starting with 1/2 cup, add water to the dry ingredients. Stir, and add more water if needed. You are looking for a thick batter--a bit thicker than pancake batter. 
  3. Heat frying oil to medium hot in a pan. 
  4. Once the ramps and cilantro have sat for at least 10 minutes, stir them into the batter. If the mix looks too thin, add some more chickpea flour to thicken. 
  5. With a wooden spoon, ladle out pakoras into the hot oil. I like to use a wooden spoon, because I get them about the size I want, but they are fairly thin so I can use less oil. Don't crowd them in the pan, and cook on each side till browned and crisp. 
  6. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately, with chutney and yogurt or raita.


  1. Hmm these look delicious, thanks for posting up this recipe, looks quite simple to make.


    1. Hi Simon

      I'm glad it looks good. It really is easy to make. Do you still have ramps up by you? If not, you could use spring onions. Pakoras are made with any veggie, really.