Capital Chefs: Kaz Kazmi of Merzi (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘MichaelTRuhl’

It’s easy to be intimidated by the prospect of cooking Indian food. Will it turn out right? Will my kitchen smell like curry for days? Am I better off ordering from a restaurant in town that actually knows what they’re doing? But take my word for it: making Indian food, really good Indian food, doesn’t have to be that hard. Save your pennies on having someone else make you chicken tikka masala; you can do this.

After the jump you’ll find Kaz Kazmi’s recipe for pakoras, a traditional Indian fried vegetable fritter. They’re flavorful and spicy and taste so good that before you know it the entire batch you made will be gone.

Photo courtesy of
‘Too Many Hands’
courtesy of ‘MichaelTRuhl’

Kaz Kazmi’s Merzi Pakora Recipe

1 Cup Gram Flour (or chickpea flour or garbanzo flour)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp cilantro
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
Assorted vegetables like onions, cauliflower, boiled potatoes, etc.

1. Chop all vegetables into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
2. Mix all dry ingredients together and then add in the warm water and lemon juice until the mixture turns into a smooth paste.
3. Roll the vegetables in the paste so they have a light coating. Pour the oil into a skillet so that it covers the bottom of the pan and heat thoroughly. Pan-fry the vegetables for 4 to 5 minutes until the batter turns a golden color. Serve with the cold chutney below.

Merzi Pakora Chutney
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp chopped green Thai chilies
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp sugar
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup plain yogurt

1. Mix all ingredients into the 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. Stir and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘MichaelTRuhl’

Marissa was born and bred in New Jersey, but moved to DC for undergrad at GWU (Go Colonials, go!), fell in love with the District and learned that there was life and civilization beyond New York City. She loves eating at white-tablecloth-three-forks-at-your-place-setting restaurants, but she’ll also be the first to suggest we scarf down some chili dogs at 2 am. Simply put, she loves all things food. You can also read about why she loves DC. Follow her on Twitter and email her at mbialecki (at)

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