Passionate about Pakoras
Mike and I share a penchant for all food Indian. After our site meetings, he would gun his Camry down the highway and veer off towards Brickfield. I’ll smile quietly. We would be heading for our tea time fix. Pakoras.

Akka normally sets up stall in front of the Chinese Zhu Zhar by three in the afternoon. Just a little foldable Formica table. Another green rickety small side table made even with layers of folded paper at the legs for the stove. A small gas tank, hot oil and a large wok.  A large umbrella.

Shortly before four, she would be armed to the teeth with her wire mesh strainer or skimmer which has a bamboo handle. The perfect tool for removing these babies from the hot oil.

In the large plastic container there’s a heady mix of onion, eggplant, potato, spinach, paneer, cauliflower, tomato and chillis in a batter of gram flour. Our favourite are the spinach, paneer and cauliflower. And of course onion bhajji.

These make amazing afternoon snacks. Definitely in a superior league to French fries. Whether rolled into ball or sprinkled straight in hot oil and fried, the pakoras are very crisp on the outside and medium soft to lightly crisp inside.

My standing order is three paper bags. Akka filled this with an assortment of balls and deformed crisps, the wonderful stuff. She doused these with tamarind chutney.

My palm heating up as I greedily stuff two slightly deformed balls into my mouth. My hand phone rang.

“It’s Stephen – Okra. He hung himself from the ceiling fan. Master bedroom. His wife and children were out. Wake… Funeral…”

I was stunned but I managed to hang on to my Pakoras. I stumbled into the car. Mike took a look at me and quickly grabbed the bags. Both my palms were an angry red. I didn’t even feel the burn or fling the bags away. I was tearing up and sobbing softly.

Okra my childhood poet friend.  A King Scout. Always with that big million watt smile. An overachiever. Successful motivational speaker. Wonderful husband and father. Such a nice man.

My friend.

Today, suddenly, I remember why I’ve stopped eating Pakoras.

Doris Lim is a popular freelance writer who blogs as Little Fish on travel and food stories here. Be sure to check out her other inspiring stories and follow her Instagram @SmartDoryID & Facebook to check out more places to eat delicious street foods or dine in the best restaurants!


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