Who’s our first elected female prime minister? Julia Gillard, that’s who. Hell yes, madam.
Anyway, celebration in this household took the form of fried food and beer for dinner. I have complete blindness for recipes that call for deep-frying – it simply doesn’t occur to me that I could do it. So I am extremely grateful to Tiny Banquet Committee for posting about their fritterized, shallow-fried version of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s deep-fried spring onion bhajis. Deep-fried spheres, eh, whatever. But greens-packed, besan flour fritters: intriguing.
Despite my intention of fritterizing the results, I followed Hugh FW’s recipe to the dot up to the cooking stage. Mysteriously this produced not the “smoothish batter” promised, but instead a bowl full of chopped up spring onions lightly and unevenly coated with faint smears of batter. Seriously, it looked like there was about 5% batter to 95% onions by volume. I’m not sure if I used the wrong kind or quantity of spring onions (I used one full bunch of the long green onions sold as shallots in Australia), or perhaps cut them wrongly (into 1 cm rounds), or what. But there wasn’t quite enough batter to even stick the onions together for any kind of frying. So I dumped in another couple of tablespoons of besan flour, followed by another slosh of beer, and miraculously things came together.
My fritters were much more greens-heavy and therefore raggedy-looking than the ones on Tiny Banquet Committee, but man they tasted good. The besan flour gives a great savoury flavour, the spices perk things up just enough, and the fritters were crisp on the outside, and soft and green-oniony on the inside. The raita adds an essential sharp/sour/creamy complement – I made it with goats curd and yoghurt a la HFW, but tasted very little of the goatiness. You could probably up the goat cheese for more of a hit, or just use all Greek yoghurt instead if you want to keep things simple.
Cheers Julia! I raise my beer (and a fritter) to you.
For the raita
100 g fresh radishes, trimmed and washed
50 g soft goats cheese
150 ml whole milk yoghurt
3 teaspoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 pinch salt
Slice the radishes very thinly (1 mm). Beat together the cheese and the yoghurt until smooth, then add the radishes, mint and salt and stir to combine.
For the fritters
90 g chickpea (a.k.a. gram or besan) flour
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large pinch cayenne pepper
1 large pinch black nigella seeds
4 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
180 g spring onions, trimmed, cut into 1cm slices
100-120 ml beer or water
Sieve the besan flour, plain flour, coriander, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper into a bow. Add the onion seeds, coriander leaves and spring onions, and whisk together. Gradually add the beer or water, continually stirring, until you have a batter. If you find that this is not enough batter to hold things together, add a bit more besan flour and beer until it is. Mine was still very much spring onions only just held together with batter, and that worked great.
Heat a frypan over medium heat and add a slick of oil. Make each fritter by scooping up about a dessert-spoon of the mixture, dropping it into the pan, and pressing down with the back of the spoon to make a flattish circle (about 1.5 cm thick). Fry for a few minutes, until the bottom is browned. Flip and cook another couple of minutes until the other side is also browned and the middle is cooked. Drain on kitchen paper, repeat with the rest of the mixture. Eat hot, with raita and beer. Makes about 10 fritters.