Curried Cauliflower Fritters with Parsley and Lemon Juice
When it comes to cauliflower, I am always torn. Cauliflower always presents itself as a paradox of sorts. From the way it smells to the way it looks to what I expect it to taste like–all scenarios, without fail, result in unexpected satisfaction and enjoyment. I liken the experience salad-making. My self-assembled salad never tastes as good as one prepared for me by someone else. Aloo gobi via Bombay Grill (local Indian spot) is infinitely better than the one I made at home.
My Hamlet moment came when I was at the farmer’s market and was presented with the most anatomically correct cauliflower with a delicate, beautiful green stem. “To cook, or not to cook…” The question loomed. Luckily, I was only contemplating Monday night dinner and not death, so I bought it. Life is all about trials and tribulations anyway. And by trials and tribulations, I mean “possibly vomit-inducing foods”.
And as usual, Jamie Oliver comes to the rescue. I scoured his books/website for the perfect recipe, one out of left-field that wouldn’t completely disguise the cauliflower’s flavor and texture. After all, this little guy was farmer’s market-fresh!
His curried cauliflower fritters recipe jumped out at me. My spice cabinet is rampant with Indian spices, and this dish called for black mustard seeds, whole cumin seeds, and turmeric. This was also a great opportunity for me to test out my new mortar and pestle! Nerd alert!
Me and my roommates spice cabinet, after our journey through the Spice Route
The batter was incredibly easy to whip up. The infusion of beer and flour reminded me of the beer-battered fish I made for tacos one night. With the addition of spices however, this version had way more depth and character. Side note: I think I may try this batter out with fish and tofu next time.
Deep-frying the cauliflower was probably the only tedious part. Tip: Get a spider, those brass mesh skimmers popularized by Chinese cooks. It will take the load off of lifting deep-fried foods out of blistering hot oil. Yes, I said, “blistering”. Mind the hot oil, people.
Anyway, I was really satisfied with the results. Shockingly enough, the cauliflower as prepared by moi, tasted good. No, not just good. Delicious! With a bottle of Duvel and some squirts of lemon, the pub-friendly cauliflower fritters were just the thing to have on a Monday night–in front of the TV of course.
When I see this photo, Michael Jackson’s “Gonna Be Startin’ Something” comes to mind.
Up close and personal (and spicy!).
I may have to just use this as a stock photo for recipes involving cake/pancake batter or custard.
Screw Monday night yoga classes. Here’s to my current “work hard, play hard” mentality.
•flour, for dusting
• vegetable oil
• optional: a small piece of potato, peeled
• a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
• sea salt
• 1 lemon
for the batter
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
• 2–3 dried red chillies
• 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
• 200g self-raising flour
• ½ teaspoon turmeric
• 350ml cold beer
• sea salt
Trim the bottom off the stalk and break the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Slice up the stalk into 2cm pieces – this way it will all cook at the same rate. Wash the cauliflower, drain it and pat dry with kitchen paper. Place the cauliflower pieces in a bowl and dust with a little flour.
Pour the oil into a deep saucepan – you want it to be about 10–12cm deep – and heat it to 180°C. If you don’t have a thermometer don't worry, just drop a piece of potato into the oil. When it floats to the surface and starts to sizzle, the oil will be at the right temperature so remove the potato from the pan.
Shake any excess flour off the cauliflower. One by one, dip the pieces into the beer batter, then carefully place them in the hot oil, moving them away from you as you do so. Make sure you stand back so you don’t get splashed. It’s best to fry them in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan (but serve them as soon as each batch is ready). Each time a batch of cauliflower is nearly ready, add some battered parsley leaves to the pan and fry for 40 seconds (you want to serve them scattered over the fritters). Fry the pieces gently, turning them a couple of times with a slotted spoon. When they’re browned and crisp, lift them out of the oil, allowing any excess to drip back into the pan, and drain on kitchen paper. Dust with sea salt and squeeze over a little lemon juice.