Pakoda is a quintessential Indian tea-time snack, and is made with gram flour or chickpea flour, and stuffed savory vegetables. This recipe is for vegan fritters, stuffed with crispy cabbage, red onions, and jalapenos, with instructions for pan frying, baking and air-frying (vs. deep frying).
The post contains helpful tips and tricks to make sure you're successful in your first attempt. But if you're in a rush, please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Super customizable: The great thing about these fritters is that you can adapt them however you want. My recipe has jalapenos for some kick, and red onions. But if you want to tone down the spice, you can leave the jalapenos out. You can also add broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, or even eggplants!
- Vegan and gluten-free: The recipe as written is already vegan and gluten-free (and nut free!) so it caters to a wide range of dietary restrictions
- Get your kids to eat vegetables: My mom used to call these "hidden vegetable" fritters because I'd never realize she'd packed vegetables into it!
📋 Ingredients required
I use cabbage, jalapenos, and onions as the base of these fritters and chickpea flour as the binding agent (so it's naturally gluten-free). I sift red chili powder with my chickpea flour to make sure it’s evenly spread. This recipe has some rice flour to enhance the crispiness of the fritters but this is optional. You can also use cilantro for fresh herby notes!
⏲️ Making vegan fritters
You'll follow a two step process to make these fritters.
First, make the fritter batter. Add the chopped vegetables, chickpea flour, rice flour, spices, oil and some water to form a coarse batter that holds together as balls. You don't want too much water - just enough to hold their shape (see below)
Then, you have three options to make these vegan fritters:
- Pan fry it the traditional way. For this, I’d add ⅓ cup of vegetable or canola oil to a small but deep pan. You can drop the fritters and fry them ~3 minutes on each side.
- Bake it in the oven. Heat the oven to 425F, let the cabbage fritters sit on a sheet pan for a few minutes to firm up, and then pop them in for about 25 minutes, turning halfway through. Check to make sure they’re turning golden brown. If you have a "roast" open in your oven, use that to get extra crispy edges. This is what I've done below.
- Air fry them. Preheat the air fryer to 380F, drop the fritters in and cook for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through. Check to make sure they’re browning evenly.
Quick note: All the methods are equipment-dependent. Oven and air fryer temperatures can be notoriously different, so use this as a guideline and check when the fritters are crispy and brown all around.
👩🏽🍳 Top Tips & FAQs
The key is to chop them finely. I typically tend to just julienne them first, and then chop horizontally across so they end up as small pieces. Another benefit of chopping them this way is that the onions and cabbage end up being the same size, so you don't end up with just a mouthful of cabbage.
Most fritters use egg as the binding agent. Traditional Indian fritters like this cabbage pakoda, use besan (i.e. split chickpea flour ground more finely) which acts as a natural binding agent. is a cornerstone of Indian snacking. This recipe uses chickpea flour, which is the more common variant available in most grocery stores.
Overall, I find chickpea flour to be a great way to make sure the ingredients stay together while making cabbage fritters! I've also tested this recipe with besan (you just need a bit less water for besan since it's so fine).
🍴 Serving & storage suggestions
These fritters are great as a snack by itself. I sometimes like to serve it an Indian raita as a cool complement. You can also serve this with a tamarind chutney, or whisk some mayo with hot sauce and use that as an aioli.
The best way is to first fry them, then let them cool completely. Once they’re at room temperature, place wax paper between each fritter and place them in an airtight container. You can free the fritters this way up to a month!
When you’re ready to eat them again, place them on a baking sheet, and bake at 400F for 10 minutes or so until heated well. Make sure you don’t burn them!
Alternatively, if you have an air fryer, you can pop them in there at 380F for about 5 minutes. That said, it's quite easy to whip these up in real time - so if you can, try to make them fresh whenever possible!
If you like this recipe, check out these other Indian recipes:
Vegan Fritters (Pakoda)
- ¼ cabbage head chopped finely
- ⅓ red onion medium, chopped finely
- 1 jalapeno chopped finely - optional
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- ¼ cup rice flour for crispiness (optional)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup water use ¼ cup if using besan flour instead - add slowly to ensure right consistency
- If using oven, preheat to 425F (on roast setting, if that's avaiable). Or pre-heat the air-fryer to 380F
- Add the chopped cabbage, onions, jalapenos, flour, spices and oil into a mixing bowl
- Stir well, add the water and fold into a rough batter
- Take a scoop of batter the size of a small lemon and shape into a fritter - place on a lined baking sheet if using an oven, roughly 2 inches apart. If using an air fryer, place into the air fryer basket evenly spaced out.
- Once the air-fryer or oven is ready, pop the fritters in. If using the oven, bake for 15 minutes, then turn over and bake for another 10. If using air fryer, bake for 15 - 20 minutes until golden brown
- Serve hot, with ketchup and/or mint chutney for a perfect snack!
- I typically sift my spices through my chickpea flour so it spices up the fritters more evenly but this is optional
- Make sure to not add too much water as this can cause the fritter to disintegrate - you want just enough to hold the ingredients together but not be watery!
- Ovens and air-fryers are particularly finicky and no two of those are the same. The cook time in this recipe card are directional and based on on my oven - make sure to cook until your fritters are crispy and brown on both sides!
Note: This post was originally published on March 29, 2020. This was updated on Jan 3, 2021 with better process pictures and recipe card.