Killu Pakoda – Pinched Onion Fritters, A recipe from Palakkad, India

When I was a kid I loved Summers because they meant freedom from school and from homework for two months. The first half of our holidays was spent lazing at home and the latter half was spent in Bangalore, at my grandparents’ house.

We never went to camps. Our home was our camp. We simply played hopping (langdi tang), 4 corners, 8 corners (hopscotch or ‘stapu‘ as we used to call the game in Hindi), catch (pakdan-pakdai), hide ‘n seek (chupan-chupai), chor-sipahi or swung below the banyan tree clutching its strong,drooping roots. When we weren’t playing we would embark on discovering the eggs in the hedges, making whistles of bamboo stems and roll over the green grass much to our maali’s (gardener’s) distress.

When we were in the North, April meant receding Winters. The thatched curtains that had been rolled up tight and secured to the roof during Winter, would be pulled down, brushed and watered in April to protect the porch from the scorching Summer heat. I remember my sister P and myself eagerly looking forward to this grand opening. The workers would be ever so careful while rolling open the thatch curtains because the curtains would be filled with baby squirrels that had been laid there during Winters. Mother would keep warning the workers to be careful lest the babies should fall and get injured. I have no idea what eventually happened to the poor things.

Summer also meant a mela (fair) in the kitchen. Mother would make jellies, ice creamsΒ and custards on regular basis. Once a week – mostly Sundays – mum made one of our meals ‘extra’ special, usually either lunch or tiffin. There would be pooris / bhaturas for lunch accompanied by chhole or kofta. Tiffins offered more scope for variety on weekends as the timing was always perfect. Sundays used to be a time when we would have cousins or friends over, which meant that tiffin was a meticulously delicious affair with traditional delicacies like ‘Madur vadai’, sevai, bondas and bajjis.

Being a home maker has its own advantages and as a working woman I tend to compare whether I do as much as mother did for us. I do not even make many dishes from my childhood when they require planning ahead. I ensure that my children get enough of play during Summers and less of ‘computer games’ but there are many things I do differently. I take a few days off and take them to places around the city. We see movies, play dumb charades, and we bake cookies or chocolate cakes. A thing that remains the same is the visit to their grandparents’.

I also make a lot of tasty dishes for them, though I keep trying healthier alternatives quite tirelessly. One of the things I experimented a lot with is trying to bake fritters and bajjis instead of frying. It was a disaster! The many hands that would reach out and polish off the delicacies hot off the strainer usually, had to be coaxed to try out the baked versions. P would have a plastic grin, Jr.H would reach out for a cup of water after each bite and Jr.P was the worst of all – he wouldn’t even pretend! Instead he would hold his throat and hang his tongue out as if choked – enough signs to ward me off from the path of health once in a while.

It is not so always. Baked doughnuts and baked gujiyas have been hits. The rest, I am sad to say were flops. I now fall back on making mummy’s Sunday treats. One of her quick Sunday tiffins was ‘killu pakoda’. ‘Killu’ in Tamil means ‘pinch’, and ‘pakodas’ mean ‘fritters’. Naturally these delicacies are simply ‘pinched fritters’.

Killu pakoda does not require any planning, is made with ingredients easily available in any kitchen and is relatively less oily as compared to other fried savouries.

Recipe: Killu Pakoda or “Pinched Onion Fritters”
Yield: Serves 4

Bengalgram flour / Besan / Kadalamaavu – 3 cups
Onions – 1 cup, chopped fine
Green chillies – 2 chopped fine
Curry leaves – Separated from steam and chopped rough
Peanuts or cashewnuts (quartered) – 1/2 cup
A pinch of turmeric powder
Water – 3-4 tbsps. or just enough to bind
Hot oil – 2 tbsps.
Fine rice flour – 3 tbsps.
Salt to taste
Oil to fry

Mix the flours together and add the rest of the dry ingredients.

Stir well to distribute evenly.

Add hot oil and mix quickly.

Sprinkle water, a tablespoon at a time and squeeze the dough in fistfuls together.

This usually happens with two tablespoons of water, as onion tends to leave out some water due to added salt. The dough should come together when held tight but look crumbly otherwise.

Heat oil to medium hot. Drop a tiny bit of the dough. If it makes a sizzling sound and floats up the oil is ready to use.

Pinch out small pieces and drop into the oil. Fry till reddish brown, turning frequently in between so that the fritters are thoroughly cooked inside.

Serve hot. No accompaniment required.

Change spice levels according to preference. The onions are optional. I recommend adding them unless you abstain from consuming onions for any reason. You can substitute cashews with peanuts if you prefer.

As you will notice in the end the preparation is not all that oily. Since it is low in water content, it does not absorb oil and can be drained well. These fritters stay good for two to three days and are excellent to be carried on journeys and camping.

The fritters are very crisp on the outside, crumbly and powdery on the inside, very rich and nutty in aroma and you know what is best? They keep your fingers clean and non-sticky.


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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  • Usha

    Your intro swayed me back to the trees in my village home, liked your narration and enjoyed nostalgic moments!!

  • Amelia PS

    what wonderful memories and these fritters look scrumptious

  • Ann

    I share your pain at fried goodies, but oh! they are so so good. These don't look oily at all, thanks for sharing…

  • Nags

    love the name! πŸ™‚ and the pics are lovely too!

  • Bina

    The pakodas look absolutely delicious!! Makes me want to reach into the screen and pick out one! Great pix!

  • Ann

    Brilliant pics and love this Pakoda.. one of my fav snack!

  • Aparna Vijay

    Yummy fritters! First time visit to ur blog. Lovely recipes. Do visit my blog whenever time permits.
    Aparna Vijay

  • forkbootsandapalette

    Yum…..what a stunning pic..and all looks sooooo tempting!

  • anudivya

    Beautiful! Whose pretty hands are those? πŸ™‚
    I try to bake everything in the hope of making it healthier too… some work, some don't. But I love experimenting, so it is all good.

  • Srivalli

    Wow the pictures are beautiful!..summers!..yes loads of memories..

  • Sunshinemom

    Madhuram, I guess you must have received my mail but I am mentioning the shops here just in case some other reader find it helpful.

    I buy 'mori-nu' tofu that comes in two varieties, firm and extra-firm. There is another Japanese brand available but the box is written completely in Japanese so can't tell you the brand. Both are equally good. Mori-nu is easily available in all outlets of 'Godrej Nature's Basket' and some select outlets (read as outlets in posh areas) of "Big Bazaar". The Japanese brand is available only in GNB. I don't think I had a search option in my blog. I must install one!

  • egglesscooking

    I didn't know that they were different.

    I have a question for you Harini. What brand of silken tofu is available in India? One of my readers has asked me this question. She lives in Delhi and also wanted to know the store in which it is available. I think stores in Mumbai will have branches in Delhi as well, so if you let me know, I'll write to her. Thanks.

    Have you removed the search option in your blog?

  • WizzyTheStick

    These fritters are unlike any I have had before. They look delicious and your pictures are stunning

  • Sunshinemom

    Aparna, it is very hot! Just happened that I was telling the kids that I should remember to make killu pakodas to carry with me on the journey in May. They had forgotten what it was so I made it the next morning. That shows how rarely I must be making these things!

    Thanks, Cham and Deesha. It really isn't oily because there is hardly any water and the onions are well coated with besan.

  • Cham

    The first one is stunning pict! I wish i could grab right away from the screen!


    this looks so good & yes it doesn't look that oily too

  • Aparna

    The title of your post had me smiling, and brought back memories of crisp treats, straight from the oil eaten with much enjoyment on rainy monsoon days.

    What are you doing deep frying in this heat? Don't tell me it isn't hot there?

  • Saswati

    the pakodas look mouthwatering …your post brought back beautiful memories….summers.:0))

  • egglesscooking

    Playing "dhaaya kattai" comes to my mind immediately when I think of summer holidays. Especially TM square. I don't know if anybody else knows that game of dhaaya Kattai. That game is more interesting than the usual one and it takes more time too. I actually grew up in my paternal grandmother's house, so I used to visit my maternal grandmother during the holidays.

    For the pakodas, I usually slice the onions very thin, salt it and mix it. If you leave it for 5 minutes, the salt alongwith the onions would have secreted enough water and the pakodas will come out very crisp.

  • notyet100

    wow this looks so delicious,felt so good reading your summer memories

  • Preeti Kashyap

    Lovely pic I shd say! And you got me homesick with all the summer hols story …

  • Sunshinemom

    Madhuram, I remember that one too.:D My cousin used to always say "Irru daayam podu" after some dialogue in a mythological movie by Shakuni Mama, and we used to name our 'kai' as Bhima, Yudhishtra, Gatoti etc.:D. Like you said, that was one fun game! I make onion bhajias like you have mentioned, but killu pakodas absorb lesser oil and taste very different. I made some of those but the pics did not come out the way I imagined.

  • Sunshinemom

    Hey Jayasri, I remember my Grandmother trying to teach us making 'malli-poo' strings in the evening and chanting prayers as well! Sometimes it used to be a torture and I used to always try to escape from learning so many things!!
    I must try adding pottukadalai flour next time. I know that should be a good addition as I love its flavour and texture. Thanks for the tip!

  • jayasri

    your write up has brought back, old memories, we never had any summer camps, as amma was also a teacher, every alternate summer we used to be in mysore with aunt and pati, she lived in KRS and it was a walkable distance for the dam, as we had free entry we used to have our tiffin go to the dam, launch go back to the dam again and enjoy playing!!, we had loads of friends to play with, aunt had a big garden with full of flowers it almost took an hour to pluck flowers and make them into garlands!, The summer camps is what I did for my kids, and I used to wait for the whole year to go to mom's house during the month of may,when we all sisters meet in mom's house for a whole month, just two days back my kids were saying that they really missed it!!, thanks for bringing back memories.., I miss it so much.
    Onion fritters look great, that's the quickest I make if somebody turns up home, just a little bit of alteration I add Besan flour and pottukadali flour with rice flour, try out adding pottukadali flour.

  • Priya

    Thats a stunning click with irresistible onion fritters, my all time fav..

  • Parita

    You brought back some good old memories of summer vacation! I remember joining a summer camp, it was fun with all crafts and sports activities they have. Majority of the vacations would fly by visiting my cousins place and helping mom in making pickles, we used to make 15 to 20 kg of mango pickle πŸ˜€
    Pakoras look mouth watering, though i have reduced the no of fried food but there is always a room for onion pakodas πŸ™‚

  • Indrani

    pakoda looks so crispy..who is posing for the click, your daughter? Lovely clicks as always especially the fruit bowl, wow…

  • Suma Rowjee

    Irresistible fritters!!

  • tigerfish

    Yummy snacks!

  • Sunshinemom

    Thank you all.

    Indrani, that is my daughter. She hates doing this but I keep egging. πŸ™‚


    yummy i couls savour the whole plate these look mouthwatering and delicious .I love the click and creativity with the papercone.

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