Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Caerphilly cheese and Welsh pakoras

As a welsh girl, I have to say a few words about Welsh cheese, and in particular Caerphilly cheese as I have been cooking a lot with it recently. This vegetarian cheese is made in South and West Wales. When young, Caerphilly has a moist, supple texture and fresh taste. However, with age, it becomes creamier around the edges and more flavoursome. This welsh cheese is less crumbly than its English counterparts such as Wensleydale and Lancashire.

If you get a chance try and get hold of a proper mature Caerphilly cheese. It really makes a difference from the crumbliness of a supermarket one. The real Caerphilly cheese has a proper rind with a soft yellowing edge and a creamy centre. Hence the famous Welsh rarebit, cheese on toast – you won’t get that lovely melty sheen with a crumbly cheese. Saying that I found it really difficult to track down authentic Caerphilly cheese in any of the local Scottish supermarket, I even tried I J Mellis: the West Ends best cheese monger who informed me that they no longer stock it, but had similar crumbly type cheese. Eventually I did track some down, but it was a supermarkets brand, not the real stuff, it will have to do for now.
You can make pakoras from any vegetable: aubergines, mushrooms as long as you make them with besan, also known as gram flour (chick pea flour). These pakoras are made with welsh flavours: finely shredded leeks and cubes of Caerphilly cheese. I served them with grated carrots stirred through natural yogurt , yes they are the carrots from the garden plot. I appreciate this may not be to everyones taste, but have a try at least.

Pakoras are not the easiest to photograph, they look rather messy, but let me tell you they are so delicious, you'll be going back for more.
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Traditional Welsh Pakora recipe
Makes about 12
100g potato, cut into small even sizes cubes
110g Caerphilly cheese, Wensleydale, Lancashire or cheddar will also work but the taste will be different, cut into small cubes
150g gram flour
1 leek, finely sliced
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 – 2 fresh green chilli, minced
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
Salt to taste
Cold water to bind mix
Oil for deep frying
Place 150g gram flour in a large mixing bowl along with the potato cubes, leeks, cheese, fresh chilli, cumin seeds, chilli powder and salt. Now mix together. Add enough water to bind, you want to achieve a free form dropping consistency.

Heat the oil in a large pan or deep fat fryer, drop a few large tablespoons of batter gently into the hot oil, cook on one side for a couple of minutes until crispy and then turn over until the other side is crisp and golden too. Do this until all the pakora mix is used. Eat immediately, while fresh and crispy.


  1. Is this a common dish in Wales? I'll have to make it!

  2. It maybe something some modern or trendy South Asian restaurants serve as a starter in Wales, but they are keeping it very secret if they are, as I have never seen it served anywhere there. So who knows maybe this Welsh Asian girl may have started something. I do recommend it though, they were really moreish.


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