Hogweed and Wild Garlic Pakoras
These crunchy, Indian-style chickpea flour fritters are mildly spiced to accentuate the distinctive flavour of tender young hogweed shoots, with wild garlic adding oniony savouriness. If you have some of last year’s dried hogweed seeds to hand, use a scattering to add further emphasis or, failing that, some crushed coriander seeds will work well. Adjust the amount of chilli to suit your own taste, and serve the pakoras crisp and hot from the pan with lemon wedges to squeeze over.
- 150g tender common hogweed shoots
- 125g chickpea (gram) flour
- 2 tablespoons rice flour (or uncooked rice, ground finely in a spice grinder)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt (or more to taste, see method)
- 1 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes (or more to taste, see method)
- 2 tablespoons dried hogweed seeds or 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped wild garlic leaves
- Oil for deep frying
- Lemon wedges, to serve
- Wash the hogweed shoots and trim away and discard any thick, fibrous stems. Drain them well and pat them dry with a tea towel.
- Put the chickpea flour, rice flour, baking powder, salt and chilli flakes into a bowl. Mix with a whisk, then gradually add around 150ml cold water, whisking constantly, to give a smooth, stiff batter that will stand up in soft peaks. Add the hogweed seeds and wild garlic and mix well, then set the batter aside while you prepare the oil for frying.
- If using a deep-fat fryer, preheat the oil to 180˚C. If you’re using a pan, choose a wide, deep one and do not fill it above a third of its depth with oil. Set over a high heat, and to test if it is ready for frying drop a little batter into the oil – if it immediately rises surrounded in bubbles, the oil is hot enough.
- When the oil is up to temperature, take one hogweed shoot by its stem and dip it onto the batter, turning it around to get well coated. Allow excess batter to drip off, then gently lower the battered hogweed into the hot oil. Cook the fritter on one side for three to four minutes, until browned and golden, then use a slotted spoon to turn it over to cook the other side. When golden brown and crisp, lift the fritter out of the oil and drain on kitchen paper. Taste it to see whether you need to add more salt or chilli and season the batter accordingly if necessary.
- Fry the remaining hogweed shoots in small batches in the same way. Do not overcrowd the pan, or the pakoras might stick to each other or become greasy.
- After they pakoras have drained briefly on the kitchen paper, serve them with lemon wedges.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK