Cauliflower fritters (Emshat)

 

My Dad introduced me to these cauliflower fritters made with eggs and some light spicing; a favourite in Palestine and everything a comfort food should be; crunchy, slightly salty, savoury and extremely moreish. I was offered a plate piled high with them after Christmas when I was visiting my Grandmother and attempting some food restraint. I took one, protesting that it was too much and then demolished the lot over the course of an idle day. It is impossible not to.

I wanted to make these fritters at a class I was teaching recently at Made in Hackney. As it was a solely plant based cooking class, I came up with this slight variation omitting the eggs and using chickpea flour and fizzy water to form the batter. The result is an ode to the flavours of the original with extra crunchiness and an extremely light batter.

The below makes approximately 10 fritters.

Equipment wise a slatted spoon is recommended for easy turning

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower broken in to florets, along with the stems and leaves
200g of gram flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp salt
2 / 3 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp of smoked paprika
Approximately 300/350 ml sparkling water
Rape seed oil / vegetable oil filling the pan you are using to approximately 2 inches high

Serve with – wedges of lemon, pomegranate seeds, some fresh herbs and a sprinkle of salt.

Method

Place the cauliflower in a pot of boiling water and simmer until fork tender (approximately 8 minutes). They should be on the ‘mushy’ side. Drain the water and place a tea towel over them and wait for them to cool.

Meanwhile place the gram flour in a large mixing bowl with the bicarbonate of soda, salt, cumin and paprika and combine. Slowly whisk in the fizzy water until you have a smooth batter.

Break up the cauliflower florets further, chop the stems and slice the leaves and stir them in to the batter pressing gently with a spoon to combine the cauliflower further. They should be relatively broken up whilst retaining shape and texture.

Heat the oil in the pan on a high heat. It should take 5 minutes to heat up sufficiently on a gas hob. You can test whether the oil is ready by dropping a small amount of the mixture into the pan. If it sizzles then they are ready to go.

Drop in one large tablespoon of the batter at a time. They will need a couple of minutes each side; once the bottom is golden, turn with a slatted spoon to cook the other side. Once they are ready place them on a plate with kitchen towel on it to absorb the excess oil.

Best served hot from the pan.

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