Sunday, 1 July 2012
Curried Courgette Fritters
Yesterday was the Pimlico Farmer's Market big birthday bash, celebrating the efforts of all the amazing people who've been bringing in their amazing produce for the past ten years. Shuk from Flourish bakery baked an impressive giant cake, topped with the most adorable decorations that were tributes to each and every one of the producers, including the hilarious marzipan T-bone steaks. Inside, were three layers of carrot, beetroot, and courgette cake, which everyone polished off in an hour. Granted, no one resists free tea and cake, but it really was very good cake, moist and sweet from the best of this season's vegetables, grown lovingly by the very people for whom the cake was made for.
I've had carrot and beetroot in cakes before, but courgette's entirely new to me. It's probably not the most avant-garde of cakes you've had if you grew up here, or even if you grew up on the other side of the pond where it's called zucchini bread, but up till three years ago, I've never even come across a courgette before. I remember buying them in my first year, thinking they were cucumbers by some sort of queer old-English name, and being entirely disappointed by its crunch-less, juice-less, seed-less insides. It's one of my favourite summer vegetables now though, so versatile in stews, roasts, or shaved into ribbons for salads or pseudo pasta, and now, even in cake.
Promising Nigel Slater recipe scribbled down, courgettes all hand-shredded, oven all heated up, I realised then that I was out of flour. Five minutes of mild cursing and another five minutes of larder appraisal later, I made these (inadvertently gluten-free) curried courgette fritters.
Curried Courgette Fritters
makes about 8 3-inch pancakes
2 medium courgettes
1 free-range egg, beaten
2-4 tbsp fine rice flour
1 tsp garlic powder /grated garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp unrefined sea salt, plus more to taste
ghee/ coconut oil, for frying
1. Shred the courgettes on a coarse grater. You could use the food processor but you won't get nice long shreds and a nice arm workout. Toss with 1 tsp of salt and leave for 10 minutes. Squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can, you might be quite surprised at how drastically small your courgette pile has become, but it's important for non-soggy fritters.
2. Taste for seasoning, adding extra salt if necessary. Combine the rest of the ingredients together, adding more/less rice flour if the mixture feels too loose. Refrigerate the batter for about 10 min. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
3. Heat a shallow layer of oil in the frying pan, and when hot, drop heaped tablespoons of the mixture and fry over medium heat till golden brown on the bottom and edges, flipping over once. Leave to drain on paper towels, then transfer to the oven while you finish the rest. They should all have about 5-10 minutes in the oven to really crisp up.
Golden and crisp on the edges, and fluffy and moist on the inside, these fritters are not at all like the greasy takeaway pakoras that weight heavily on your stomach at the end of the meal. The spices add a kick which is a delicious especially with a soothing cucumber-mint raita, or even a tzatziki which is a pretty similar dip anyway but frankly would probably go better with a more traditional greek-style fritter with feta. Or if you're lazy, a squeeze of lemon and plain yogurt will do quite nicely. This pretty much made me forget entirely about my failed mission, though I must admit, I'm very easily cheered up by food.
For more courgette ideas, see zucchini a la carbonara.