Rinse the palak or spinach leaves very well. Drain the excess water in a colander or strainer. Finely chop the spinach leaves.
In a bowl add the finely chopped palak leaves, chopped onions, ginger and green chili.
Add the ground spice powders - fennel seed powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, asafoetida (hing). Add the sesame seeds as well.
Next add besan and salt as per taste. You could also add a pinch of baking soda at this step.
Mix all the ingredients very well and set aside for 5 minutes.
First add ½ cup of water in parts. Remember the spinach and onions will leave water once they are mixed with salt and the spice powders. So be careful while adding water.
If the batter is still thick, then add some more water.
Mix very well. Add water as required to make a medium consistency batter.
Heat oil in a kadai or pan. When the oil is medium hot, drop spoonfuls of the pakora batter in the oil.
Fry the pakora until they become pale golden. Then turn over and fry the other side.
Turn over a couple of times and fry all the pakora until they are crisp and golden.
Remove them with a slotted spoon. Drain them on kitchen paper towels to remove extra oil.
Fry the palak pakoda in batches this way and use up the entire batter.
Chutney: A coriander chutney or mint chutney or tamarind chutney and even coconut chutney pairs well with palak pakoda.
Dipping sauces: Tasty dipping sauces like schezwan sauce, red chilli sauce and tomato ketchup also taste equally good.
Raita: A simple plain raita made with minimal seasonings – roasted cumin powder, red chilli powder, salt and cilantro or mint will also pair nicely.
Bread: Indian breads like roti or leavened whole grain loaf or dinner rolls taste good. Serve with masala or ginger chai.
Spices & herbs: Spinach has metallic flavors. To balance these flavors, the batter need to have a perfect seasoning from the spices and herbs. My recipe won't give you a spicy pakoda, but as you prefer you can increase the amount of green chillies and red chilli powder.
Batter: The spinach pakora batter consistency is medium. Do not make a thin or runny or a thick batter. A thin batter will absorb too much oil and thick batter will make the fritters doughy. If the batter becomes thin, add a few tablespoons of gram flour. If the batter is very thick, add a bit of water.
Water proportion: Begin with adding ½ cup water and add more only if needed. Some spinach leaves or onions may have a high water content and the quality of the gram flour is also not the same everywhere. So water has to be added keeping these factors in mind. I have here used gram flour which was ground at home. The packaged flour is fine or super fine. The homemade flour was little coarse. So obviously I add a bit more water to the batter than what I would have added otherwise.
No onion variation: For folks who do not eat onions, just skip onions in the pakora. It will still taste delicious.
Spinach: Both fresh and frozen spinach can be included. Baby spinach also tastes nice.
Frozen spinach: Frozen spinach can become watery when it thaws. To avoid this, after thawing the spinach, either squeeze it in a tea towel or press it through a strainer to remove extra water. Then proceed with the pakoda recipe.
Oil: For deep frying use any neutral oil that has a high smoke point.
Baking & air frying: For health reasons, you can bake these palak fritters. Preheat your oven or air-fryer for 10 minutes. Then bake or air fry at 180 degrees celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit). Either you can add 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in the batter or when the pakora is half-baked, brush them lightly with oil.
Leavening ingredient: For a fluffy palak pakoda, you can add 1 pinch of baking soda or ¼ teaspoon of baking powder.