I learned a lot of things at last weekend's Camp Blogaway retreat for food bloggers.
From Carolyn O'Neil, former CNN reporter and author of The Dish on Dieting, I learned that at the end of a video segment you want to "tie it in a bow" - that is, find a good line to wrap the whole thing up and send it on its way.
From Sarah Gim, who runs Tastespotting, I learned that a good food photo is like pornography: She couldn't say exactly what she looks for when choosing photos for Tastespotting, but she knows it when she sees it.
From Andrew Wilder of Eating Rules I learned that I am not the only person who cries in public at the drop of a hat. (Welcome to the club, my friend.)
But perhaps the most important thing I learned at Camp Blogaway was how to make onion pakora.
During one of the breaks I was chatting with Rashmi Nigam of YumKid. I can't remember what we were talking about, but at one point I said, "Hey, my younger son loves onion pakora. Is it hard to make?" She said no, not at all: You mix chickpea flour with water, dip the onions, then fry in hot oil. It sounded simple enough, and I filed the recipe away in the back of my mind.
I got home from camp on Sunday afternoon, plenty tired and grimy. But after a shower I got a second wind and headed for the kitchen. The kids were running around in the backyard spraying each other with the hose. I was still thinking about pakora, so I sliced onions, dug out the chickpea flour from the back of the pantry, and poured canola oil into a pot.
Half an hour later we were burning our fingers on a tangle of tasty fried onions. If there's anything better than fried onions sprinkled with salt, I haven't found it. Hello, snack of my dreams. You're a keeper.
Fried onion pakora
This traditional Indian snack combines the earthiness of chickpea flour with the pure joy of fried onion rings. If you like things spicy, add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper to the batter.
- 1 onion
- 1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
- 1/2 tsp salt, plus more for serving
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander seed
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
- 4 cups grapeseed or canola oil, for frying
Peel the onion, cut it in half, and slice it thinly. You want to cut pole to pole, with the ridges rather than against them; this helps the onion retain some of its texture, which is important for this recipe.Mix the chickpea flour, 1/2 tsp salt, coriander and cumin in a medium-sized bowl. Add the water, starting with 1/4 cup, until the batter is the consistency of pancake batter. Add the sliced onions to the batter and toss to coat.Heat the oil in a saucepan until the surface shimmers. Add one piece of onion to the oil to test the temperature. If it bubbles fairly vigorously and turns golden brown within a minute or two, you're fine. I've never used a thermometer for this kind of deep-frying - you don't have to be that exact.Line a plate with paper towels and keep it beside the stove. Drop clumps of the batter-coated onions a few tablespoons at a time into the hot oil and fry them until golden brown, turning with a long-handled spoon now and then. Take the fried onions out and drain them on the plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all the onions have been fried. Eat as soon as the onions have cooled enough so you won't burn your fingers, sprinkling with more salt before serving if desired.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings