Cauliflower & Cumin Fritters

I admit it, I covet everything about Thanh’s beautiful blog Eat, Little Bird. If you have ever visited, you will see why. Charmed is the word that comes to mind. So without further ado, I’ll let Thanh do one of the things she does best. 

It is such a lovely honour to do a guest post on one of my favourite blogs, particularly since The Patterned Plate is a place I come to frequently for inspiration in the kitchen. For a good while, I was relying so heavily on Carrie’s recommendations for dinner ideas that I was at risk of being accused of stalking her. But such is her ability to find and share mouthwatering recipes that one cannot help but rush to the kitchen in an effort to recreate the same meal which has sparked a frenzy amongst our foodie friends.

I have the lovely Carrie to thank for introducing me to Ottolenghi. Of course, I had heard of his name and seen his books, but Carrie’s enthusiasm for Ottolenghi’s second book, Plenty, was so infectious that I marvelled at how she managed to make vegetarian food sound so enticing.

I am not a stranger to vegetarian food, but it often seems to be something I eat when dining out as opposed to proactively making at home. We don’t eat a lot of meat of home, but meat is always invariably snuck into the meal somehow, however large or small in quantity. But with Carrie’s cheerleading performance in recreating many stunning meals from Plenty, I suddenly found myself making vege meals at home night after night, much to the delight of my husband who was probably a vegetarian in a previous life.

Another close friend of mine has also been a faithful follower of Ottolenghi, long ago wooing me with recipes from his first cookbook, simply called Ottolenghi, The Cookbook. When I came home one day to find a copy of this book on my doorstep, a birthday gift with reminders of her favourite recipes, I knew that the book would not remain new-looking for very long.

Unlike Plenty, Ottolenghi is not a vegetarian cookbook. In fact, a good half of the book is devoted to their popular desserts with a decent section on meat dishes. Having said that, the recipe which I have chosen for my guest post is a vegetarian dish. I ummed and aahed over which Ottolenghi recipe to post before deciding that it was my turn to reciprocate Carrie’s generosity in sharing her favourite recipes by pointing her to one which has had much success in our home.

Cauliflower is, strangely and unfortunately, an unpopular vegetable for a lot of people. Mention cauliflower to most kids and their noses will wrinkle and their body will recoil. Mention cauliflower to most adults and their reaction will be the same as what they displayed as a child. I wonder if I fall into the minority who actually enjoyed eating “little white trees” as a child and, today, I happily add it to stir-fries, curries and soups whenever I can. Though, sadly, my husband does not share my love for cauliflower, which is exactly what prompted me to try this recipe for Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters. There’s a saying that everything tastes good when deep-fried, and I had a hunch that cauliflower mixed in some batter and then fried in oil would somehow work.

These fritters hardly take any time to make and I daresay that most people would normally have all of the ingredients in their fridge and pantry, except for the cauliflower. But given that cauliflower is a poor man’s vegetable throughout the world, it is a bonus that the main ingredient here is possibly the cheapest vegetable you will find at the supermarket.

When you think about it, cauliflower is quite a bland vegetable, making it perfect as a sponge to soak up the flavours of anything that you cook it with. The spices in this batter are quite gentle, making these fritters somewhat child-friendly, especially if you are trying to find ways to sneak more vegetables into their diet. And I can tell you that it worked with my husband – he had no idea that cauliflower was the main component in his dinner and was pleasantly surprised to find his meal enjoyable.

If you like to spice things up a bit, I would suggest adding some chopped chilli to either the batter, or perhaps to the lime sauce. The sauce is lovely and tangy and pairs wonderfully with these fritters, cutting through any taste of grease if you are worried about cooking in a lot of oil. I don’t use as much oil as the recipe suggests, preferring to shallow-fry these fritters instead. They are wonderfully crisp on the outside and the bits of mashed cauliflower throughout provides a nice, nubbly texture. Although the recipe calls for parsley for both colour and flavour, coriander would be a wonderful substitute.

Ottolenghi suggests serving these fritters in a pita with some hummus and tomato, which is what we often do, but they are also lovely served just as they are with a fresh salad on the side. So the next time you find a head of cauliflower lurking in your vegetable tray, think about giving these fritters a try.

Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters with Lime Yoghurt
Recipe adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Serves 4

For the fritters:
1 small cauliflower (about 320 g)
120 g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 eggs
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small red onion (or 2 shallots), finely chopped
sunflower for frying

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Prepare the cauliflower by trimming off any leaves and cutting the cauliflower into little florets. Add some salt to the boiling water and cook the cauliflower for about 15 minutes or until very soft. Drain the cauliflower.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, turmeric, salt, black pepper and eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Add the parsley, garlic and red onion.

Once the cauliflower is cooked and drained, add the cauliflower to the batter. Use a wooden spoon to gently break down the cauliflower into the batter. You don’t want the batter to be completely smooth, so some pieces of cauliflower here and there is fine.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, enough to shallow fry the fritters. Use a 1/4 cup measure to pour the batter into the hot oil and cook the fritters in small batches, about 3 to 4 minutes per side until they are golden and crispy on the outside, and cooked through the centre. Drain the fritters on a few layers of kitchen paper and serve hot or warm with some toasted pita breads, hummus and lime yoghurt (recipe below).

For the lime yoghurt:
300 g Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons coriander, finely chopped
zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Whisk all of the ingredients together and taste for seasoning with some salt and pepper.

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41 comments

  1. I love cauli Thanh! It’s one of my most favourites and I’m saddened when our foodie friends say they don’t like it. I never deep fry anything (apart from the one time I made churros!) so I’ll not be trying these but I think this is a super fabulous choice for your guest post. Long live Ottolenghi! I’m chomping at the bit to see his new book and accompanying tv series :D x

    • There’s a new book and TV series?? I need to clear some space on my bookshelf then! These fritters are actually shallow-fried, not deep-fried. Ottolenghi suggests filling a pan with 1.5cm of oil which would be almost enough to immerse the fritters, but I don’t think you need that much oil at all. I just lightly cover the pan with oil and find that to be sufficient.

      • Yup – Sandie tells me it’s called Jerusalem and its about Israeli food :)
        Sorry I didn’t catch that part of the recipe but I do try not to fry ever. Lol, perhaps I should – you’re the slender one, I’m the chubby one lol! Xx

  2. Luchair

    Plenty is a wonderful book! It is one of the most interesting vegetarian cookbooks i have ever come across.
    I really enjoyed this post, i can just imagine the taste of the fritters combned with the sharp lime yoghurt.

    • Thanks, Luchair! I agree with your comments about “Plenty”. I have tried quite a few recipes from there, mostly and gratefully due to Carrie’s championing of the book. The Black Pepper Tofu is a favourite in our home, though I have tweaked with the recipe a bit since I first made it, but that seems to be the case with most recipes I make over and over at home.

  3. What a lovely guest post! I am a cauliflower lover, and frying them makes me very excited! This is going into my must make file! Thanks.

  4. Oh my these look good. Cauliflower is actually on of my favorite vegetables. I am definitely giving these a try!

  5. Jean

    Mmmm, looks good! I have no great love for the stumpy white trees, and I have walked by ‘em ten thousand times in the greengrocer’s, but I did eat Carrie’s aloo gobi, and it is no flattery to say it was one of the top ten tastes of my life. So I am open-minded to the potential of the stuff!

  6. Absolutely lovely recipe. This is what I would want with a hot cup of Assam tea on a rainy afternoon. I am inspired, and thank you for it.
    Both blogs are beautiful and inspiring. You ladies are a gift to the foodie bloggers!

  7. It looks really delicious and well fried it. I love your photos also :)

  8. Ah, Bhajji’s with a difference! Shall have to try these out for sure :-)

  9. Very interesting post, Thanh. Pairing the fritters with pita & hummus sounds tempting.
    As usual I am again impressed with your photos, they are always self explanatory! Carrie will soooooo love this post. Indians have a soft corner for these ‘fried little devils’.:) In India, fritters ( called pakoras or bhajji in India) with a steaming hot cup of tea are considered the best rainy day companions. you know, people who dislike cauliflower can substitute it with any other vegetable such as shredded cabbage or just sliced onions or thinly sliced okra (my favorite!) etc.

    • Ooh thank you for this insight! I can see how these fritters would be comfort food. Ottolenghi does mention that these fritters are very similar to Indian pakoras, something which I really love! I love the idea of using shredded cabbage in these – another poor man’s vegetable ;-) When you think about it, these fritters are really quick and easy to put together that you could quite easily play around with the ingredients.

    • Spot on, didn’t Thanh choose the right recipe! Pakora, bhaji and bhajjias..all divine! Sweet tea for me too, or actually, mint tea. Bliss.

  10. I can’t wait to try this one. I have made his leek fritters with cilantro yogurt from Plenty, yum! This looks great as well.

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this. I love cauliflower and I am sure this recipe of yours will get the kids to at least try it :)

  12. I finally got over my dislike of cauliflower (at an embarrassingly late age) this last winter. This recipe sounds delicious. I cannot wait to try it!

  13. I have to give these a try soon! I have made so much out of Plenty but so far nothing from the first Otto book. Pretty bad considering I bought them at the same time. Thanks for reminding me.

    • Hi Joost! Thanks for your message on FB and for letting me know that you did actually make these fritters, almost one year ago now! Thank goodness we both take photos of our cooking – nothing better than a photographic journal to jog the memory ;-) I quite like the first Ottolenghi book, and some of the desserts are quite lovely too.

  14. I am a big fan of the cauliflower, so this is a must try for me. The recipe is very promising. I will try to incorporate it into my menu this week.

  15. Beautiful post:D Gorgeous photos, luscious recipe from your guest blogger.. I’ve just found your blog and so excited to take a look around.. Thanh must have an equally lovely blog from the looks of things here..

  16. Strangely my little people, the pink and blue, devour cauliflower. I am always mystified as it tumbles into a child friendly cauliflower cheese pasta, soup and then I’m usually stumped – so thank you I will certainly try the fritters on them, great to have a new one in the cauliflower camp!

  17. Great creativity using cauliflower! No one really has an excuse not to like cauliflower now, eh? Lovely pairing with the lime yoghurt.
    Carrie, thanks for highlighting Thanh’s blog. It’s really inspiring – another one to add to Google Reader :-)

  18. great flavor combinations!

  19. Pingback: Fruit Loaf — eat, little bird

  20. Hi there! I’m new your blog and this post caught my eye because I’m a huge fan of cauliflower! Never thought of making a fritter. Must try!

    Thanks!
    http://www.reelflavor.com

  21. Katy

    I have some cauliflower to use up this week so gonna give them a go tomorrow!

  22. My mum used to make that for supper with any vegetable she hadn’t used while making lunch: carrots, zucchini, chayote… She didn’t use spices or onions, but her secret ingredient to make me eat all that was a bit of grated parmesan!

  23. What a wonderful recipe! It’s a much better alternative to the steam cauliflowers I grew up with!

  24. ctw24

    Wow. Great recipe and great blog!

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