In my home, you don't mess with my mom's kadhi chawal recipe. For starters, it is just about the best version of kadhi you will taste. Plus it's pretty near perfect, with the right amount of tang and spiciness. But there's one thing I've been thinking of trying for a while, and that is to use the techniques of making tempura to make a crisper version of the pakoras.
It's just a couple of tweaks really, but they somehow make the pakoras a lot crisper to bite into. And once you dunk them in the kadhi and wait 15-20 minutes, you get soft pillows that absorb all the kadhi flavours.
So what's different you ask. Nothing much in the onions, which are sliced thinly lengthwise as you would for your regular pakoras. The magic happens in the batter. For one large onion, start with 1/2 cup gramflour (besan). Now add 1 tbsp cornflour to make your flour a bit lighter. To the flour mix, add salt, a pinch of chilli powder, 1/2 tsp ajwain, 1/2 tsp garam masala and 1/2 tsp amchur.
Mix everything well to combine the spices and flours. Now grab a fresh bottle or can of soda water or sparkling water from the fridge - you want it as chilled as possible. Use the cold soda water to make a batter of dropping consistency, it should be like a crepe batter and not too thin. Dunk the onion slices in the batter and drop into a pan with at least 2-3 inches of hot oil. Deep fry until a golden brown. The pakoras will puff up as they hit the oil, possibly because of all the bubbles trapped in the water and you get quite an interesting flavour hit from a combination of bubbly water and cornflour.
Go give this tweak a try before the monsoons and the pakora season ends. Just don't tell my mom!