Simple and flavorful vegan pakora (spiced chickpea flour fritters) using just a handful of ingredients (including broccoli and onion – but the veggies are versatile), are easy to make, baked or air-fried rather than fried, naturally gluten-free, and ready in under 30 minutes! Once baked, enjoy these mixed vegetable pakoras as a tasty appetizer, snack, or side!
Broccoli and Onion Pakora (Fritters) in Under 30 Minutes!
If you’re a savory snacker, then vegan pakoras are the perfect snack for you (along with cheesy zucchini chips and patatas bravas). They’re lightly spiced, wonderfully savory, packed with veggies (which are interchangeable), and in a crisp bite-sized package, these vegetable fritters are super moreish. It’s no wonder that onion pakora is the most popular street food/snack across India! Now you can prepare these air-fried/baked vegetable fritters at home in under 30 minutes!
For this easy pakora recipe, we’ve made vegan broccoli fritters with onion. However, veggie pakoras are amazingly versatile and make for a great ‘clean out the fridge/pantry’ snack. Practically any veggie will work (read below for suggestions). Even the spices are versatile – with the combination we’ve used being simple to find and even healthful thanks to immune-boosting turmeric!
Plus, while traditional versions are deep-fried, we’ve prepared baked pakora – making them a healthier treat and no need for hot oil! In fact, these can be made into bake pakora or air fryer pakora. Either way, the results have a crisp outer shell with tender, flavorful, and veggie-packed middle!
Pakoras (also called pakoda) are a popular Indian snack used as an appetizer at restaurants – usually served alongside chutney, tamarind sauce, or raita. They are spiced and deep-fried fritters made by combining ingredients (usually veggies) in a spiced batter (usually chickpea flour batter) and deep-fried until crisp.
Several popular varieties of vegetarian pakoras include onion, potato, spinach, eggplant, paneer, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, etc. For this version of vegetable pakoras, we’ve used a combination of onion and broccoli – though the veggies are easily interchangeable.
We recommend you make a double batch when possible because these fritters are one of the moreish snacks. We can’t seem to stop eating once we get started! Plus, leftovers will chill and freeze well to be reheated later, so there is no need to worry about waste!
Chickpea flour: (aka garbanzo bean flour) is available in many grocery stores (like Bob’s Red Mill) and Asian supermarkets – often labeled gram flour. You could also use besan flour (using brown chickpeas), though it will need less water for the batter.
Water: To help create the pakora batter, you should add it slowly and incrementally until the correct texture is achieved.
Spices: Cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper (or chili powder/ red pepper flakes – adjust the amount to personal preference), and salt make up the simple spice base for these vegan pakoras.
Vegetables: For this version of veggie pakoras, we’ve used finely chopped broccoli and yellow onion.
Other simple add-ins & Variations:
Other vegetables: As long as you aim to stick with the same volume of veggies, the ones you use are super versatile. Some of our favorite options include carrots, cauliflower, bell peppers (capsicum), green beans (chopped), zucchini, corn, etc. I only recommend using grated potato, not sliced, or it may not cook fully in the time. Spinach and other leafy greens will also work (just make sure to squeeze excess liquid). Avoid mushrooms (they’re a bit too wet). Check the FAQs below for the best way to chop each veg.
Other spices: Fenugreek powder or garam masala (around 1 tsp) added to the batter can help to add depth of flavor to the vegan pakora. Curry powder (1/2-1tsp) and/or ground coriander (1/2-1 tsp) would also work well.
Fresh herbs: You can increase the flavor of your vegan pakora with the addition of fresh herbs. Mint leaves, coriander, dill, and fenugreek (methi) would all work well.
Aromatics: Garlic paste, ginger paste, or finely chopped chilies can all help to add extra flavor to the vegetable pakora. Adjust the amount to taste.
Flour blend: By using a combination of chickpea flour (gram flour) and rice flour, these baked pakoras can become even lighter and crispier. We recommend using 2/3 cup chickpea flour and 1/3 cup rice flour.
Potato pakora/ aloo pakora: If you want to use potato, choose starchy or all-purpose potatoes over waxy ones. To make sure they cook in time, you’ll need to grate the potato and squeeze out any excess liquid.
Zucchini pakora: When making pakora with very wet ingredients, we recommend squeezing out excess water from the veg and using less water in the batter (so it’s barely runny – if at all).
Oil: You can add one tablespoon of oil to the baked pakora batter for even crispier results.
What is the best way to chop vegetables for pakora?
Depending on the vegetables you’re using in the air-fried/baked pakoras, there are different ways of preparing them to cook evenly. We recommend:
Carrots: Matchstick slices (julienned) or grated (medium holes) into 1–2-inch pieces (in length).
Broccoli/ Cauliflower: If used as the main veggie in the baked pakora, break them down into small florets. When using them with many other vegetables, you can grate/ process the veg into a ‘rice’ consistency.
Onion: Thinly sliced pieces like half-moons. If it’s a large onion, you may need to chop the slices in half.
Bell peppers: Thinly sliced into 1–2-inch (length) pieces.
Zucchini: Either julienne or grate (medium holes), then squeeze to remove all excess liquid. Optionally sprinkle with salt and rest for 10-15 minutes, then squeeze (to remove as much liquid as possible).
Green beans: Thinly slice/ julienne into 1–2-inch pieces.
Spinach/other greens: Finely slice (no need to be precise – just chop a lot to break them down), then squeeze out any excess liquid.
Potato: Grate using a box grater (medium holes) and then squeeze to remove excess liquid. If you want to use larger pieces of potato/sweet potato, you’ll need to parboil them first.
Tomatoes: Deseed and chop finely. Reduce the water in the vegan pakora batter when adding tomatoes. They may not be as crispy, though.
How to Make Broccoli and Onion Pakora (Vegetable Fritters)
Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions.
First, preheat the oven to 450F/230C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper/a silicone mat. Alternatively, use a tablespoon of oil to grease your tray lightly.
Then, prepare your vegetables of choice by washing, peeling, and chopping them into tiny pieces. We’ve used yellow onion and broccoli for this veggie pakora version. For the onion, we recommend slicing the onion into half-moon pieces (chop in half and then slice thin pieces – separating the different layers) and breaking the cauliflower into small florets.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the chickpea flour and all the spices and whisk. Then, gradually add in the water, mixing well between each addition. Only add enough water to form a thick pancake batter. Then whisk until the pakora batter is lump-free.
Add the chopped vegetables and mix to incorporate. Then, use a large spoon (or small ice-cream scoop) to drop ‘dollops’ of the vegan pakora batter onto your baking sheet. Leave 1-2 inches between each one on the baking tray (in case of spreading).
Then, transfer the vegetable pakoras to the oven and bake for 14-16 minutes, flipping halfway through to ensure both sides are brown and crispy. Then serve and enjoy your crispy baked pakora!
Air Fryer Pakora
Prepare the vegan pakora batter in the same way as written above. Meanwhile, preheat your air fryer to (390F/200C). Line the bottom of your air fryer (with air-fryer liners or parchment paper). Then spray lightly with cooking spray/oil. Next, with a small ice-cream scoop, scoop the batter into your air fryer, leaving at least an inch between each veg pakora.
Then cook for 9-12 minutes, flipping halfway, until golden brown and crispy. The exact time will vary depending on the size of your veggie pakoras and your air fryer brand/model.
How to Serve Vegetable Broccoli and Onion Pakora?
You can enjoy these vegan pakoras either as an appetizer, snack, or ‘small plate’ served alongside sauces of your choice. They also make for a great party ‘finger food’/ canapé.
In terms of dipping sauce, we like using chutneys (green chutney is delicious with pakoda), sweet chili sauce, and a herby creamy cilantro sauce. You can also make a simple dairy-free yogurt mint sauce/raita.
In India, it’s also popular to enjoy a vegetable pakora or two with a steamy cup of masala chai!
How to Prep and Store Pakoras?
If you want to cut down on prep time on ‘the day of’ – you can prepare the vegetables up to two days in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. We don’t recommend preparing the chickpea batter too far in advance as it can thicken and become too dense. However, you can experiment with making it a day in advance (let us know the results in the comments) – just store the batter and veggies separately until right before cooking.
Once prepared, you can store the leftover baked pakoras in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days or in the freezer for 3 months.
To reheat the pakoras (and bring back crispiness), you can place them back in the oven at 350F/180C until hot and crispy (8-15 minutes based on if they’re chilled or frozen). In an air fryer, this will take just a few minutes.
Why are my fritters soggy? This can happen if you add too much water to the chickpea flour batter. Since the vegetables will also release liquid while cooking, this can make the pakora overly wet, and they will stay soggy rather than crisping up. Too much batter/wet batter can also lead to ‘cakey’ baked pakora. The batter should be thick and scoopable, so when you place the pakora on your baking sheet, the batter doesn’t spread.
Are pakoras healthy? With a combination of vitamin and protein-rich chickpea flour and mixed vegetables, the ingredients for these veggie pakoras are undeniably healthy and packed with protein, fiber, etc. It’s mostly the cooking method that impacts the ‘healthiness’ of vegan pakora. For this version, we’ve ditched the copious amount of oil for healthier baked/air-fried versions, so – yes!
Can I substitute the chickpea flour? You could use all-purpose flour or rice flour instead, though we prefer them as chickpea flour fritters for extra flavor.
You can also add things like peas/corn (no need to chop).
Top Recipe Tips and Notes
Slice veggies to even sizes: This will ensure that they cook evenly. It’s best to make long, thin slices (around 2-inches long) from your veggies of choice. For certain veggies like cabbage, just shred them.
Use quick-cooking veggies: When making mixed vegetable pakoras, make sure to use vegetables that will all cook at similar times and within the baking time provided. Only use grated potatoes – chopped may not cook in time.
Don’t add too much water: All you need is enough for a thick pancake batter that’s ‘almost-runny’ but not. As the vegetable fritters cook, the vegetables will release more liquid. So they could turn out soggy if made with too much liquid.
If you’re using wet veggies: You may find you don’t need any water at all. Add all the veggies to the spiced chickpea flour mixture. Then squeeze with your hands to combine and form a kind of batter. If it looks like it needs it, add extra water – one tablespoon at a time.
To make chickpea flour: You can grind dried chickpeas (about 1 ½ cups) into a floury consistency in a high-speed blender or spice grinder. Then sift and re-blend any remaining large chunks. Finally, measure out one cup (there may be a little extra).
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, lightly oil baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of high heat oil. (Or use parchment paper and no oil.)
In a medium mixing bowl, combine chickpea flour with salt and spices and stir well. Add water slowly, only adding as much as you need to form a thick pancake batter, and whisk together until no lumps remain.
Add thinly sliced onion and chopped broccoli to the batter and stir to incorporate.
Spoon large dollops onto the baking sheet, spaced about 1-2" apart.
Bake for 7-8 minutes on each side, flipping when bottoms of fritters have turned brown and crisped up.
Serve with condiment of choice, alone, or over rice.
Renee Press is the founder of Fire and Earth Kitchen in Seattle WA. which offers cooking classes, food coaching, and chef services. She's on a mission to make vegan, gluten-free cooking easy, accessible, and delicious for everyone. fireandearthkitchen.com