Desi has a special relationship with asparagus. Every time we see it at the store, he wants to buy it. When I try to explain to him that the stalks don’t look fresh, or the price is too high, he pouts and sulks like a kid without candy. And that’s a true story.
It’s easy to understand Desi’s obsession. Crisp, flavorful and nutty, this stalk is almost surely at the top of any vegetable lover’s list. Asparagus is also packed with nutrients, including vitamins, copper and folate. And given how often it comes home with us, I’m always looking for new ways to cook it up.
One of my favorite recipes is this one for Baked Asparagus Pakoras. I bake up a batch on weekend nights before we plunk ourselves in front of a movie or a favorite television show and we can snack away without worrying about calories headed straight for our butts. Because everything in these pakoras is healthy, and there’s not even that much oil to worry about– the way you would, if these were fried.
Keep in mind that when you bake pakoras, instead of frying them, you won’t get the same crunch. But these are crunchy enough and so flavorful — and healthy, do I need to say that again? — that you won’t mind the trade off. I bake them at a high temperature because I want the coating to crisp up before the asparagus turns soft– you want it to retain some of that charming bite.
Here, then, is the recipe. Enjoy!
- 24 stalks of asparagus, hard ends trimmed. If you're unsure about how to do this, all you have to do is hold the asparagus by your fingers, one end in each hand, and bend. The asparagus will snap off exactly where the soft stalk ends and the hard portion starts.
- ¾ cup of chickpea or garbanzo bean flour (besan)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, coarsely ground
- 1 tsp paprika or another chili powder (use spicier types like cayenne if you like a lot of heat)
- 1 tsp garlic powder (optional, but nice)
- ¼ cup finely chopped coriander leaves
- Salt to taste
- Oil for spraying (approx 2 tsp. Spray or brush on to ensure it's evenly distributed)
- Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spray with oil to coat the surface.
- Mix all the ingredients (except oil and asparagus) in a bowl and add enough water to make a thick batter, about the consistency of a pancake batter.
- Dip the asparagus stalks, one at a time, in the batter making sure it's evenly coated. Lay the stalks side by side, without touching, on the baking sheet.
- Spray once more with oil to coat the tops.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and bake the asparagus stalks for 15-20 minutes or until the besan coating is golden.
- Remove the baking sheet and carefully lift out the asparagus stalks with a pair of tongs.
- Serve hot or warm.