Soggy rains and crunchy okra pakoras

Published: November 5, 2014


We have had some rainy days in Karachi but, while I was there, they were always welcome and for some reason just very ‘happy’ – I call it ‘happy rain’. We would go out in our clothes and get drenched and love it.

There was something liberating about the rain, maybe it was freedom from the constant 35 degree weather in the summer and the oppressive humidity. And that it washed the dusty hot city clean – though I can’t say the knee deep puddles and traffic jams as a result were enjoyable. Nevertheless, rainy, hot days laced with the smell of earth which to me is the most nostalgic essence of all is what brings to mind a treat of deep fried pakoras (chickpea flour-fritters, eaten as a snack) made with either potatoes, chillis, onions… the possibilities were endless.

In my house we always made this okra version which admittedly was served not as a snack but rather as a vegetable accompaniment with a curry and rice…This recipe makes me yearn for some happy rain instead of this soggy London grey spitting variety!


Okra (washed, dried and slit half way from the tips) – 1/2 kg

Gram flour/chickpea flour (besan) – 1 cup

Cumin (dry roasted and ground) – 1 tsp

Coriander seeds (dry roasted and ground) – 1 tsp

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp

Amchoor powder (mango powder, available in all Indian shops, or substitute with the juice of half a lemon and add only in the end) – 1 tsp

Water at hand

Chaat masala – 1 tbsp

Corn oil, sunflower oil or light olive oil for deep frying

Photo: Sumayya Usmani


1. Once the okra is dry, make a batter-like paste of the gram flour and water with all the spices (except the chaat masala) and allow the okra to be coated with this.

2. Heat about two cups of the oil in a deep frying pan and deep fry the batter-coated okra until it’s cooked and crispy. Then let it drain on a kitchen towel for a few minutes.

Photo: Sumayya Usmani

3. To serve, sprinkle it with chaat masala and a squeeze of lemon – if you have not used the amchoor (mango powder).

This serves up to two people, best eaten with a curry and rice. It takes about 30 minutes to prepare

Now ensure you look out the window on a soggy day and enjoy this with some hot chai – wherever you are!

This post originally appeared here.

Sumayya Usmani

Sumayya Usmani

She is a writer and cookery teacher based in London, UK, specialising in the cuisine of Pakistan, where she was born and raised. She blogs at and tweets as @MyTamarindKtchn ( She is also the author of a cookbook, Summers under the Tamarind Tree.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.