I open the small metal jars containing cumin and cinnamon and the sweet and pungent scents waft towards me, their perfume filling the air around the kitchen. This is definitely Ottolenghi-land. I have been cooking my way through a few of my cookbooks and Ottolenghi’s collection sits at the top of the pile. This one, titled simply Ottolenghi, the cookbook, was much anticipated and did not disappoint. It is full of vegetable centered recipes and flavours from the warm Mediterranean, just my kind of food.
I was looking for something to do with a small, creamy white cauliflower I picked up at the market the other day. I usually roast it or sauté in a little olive oil and spices. Sometimes I dip it in batter and fry as a fritter. It’s made its way into soups with beautiful local blue cheese and creme fraiche or just steamed to crispy perfection and enjoyed with a simple squeeze of lemon. Leafing through Ottolenghi’s the Cookbook I was attracted to these fritters, served with a tangy yogurt-lime sauce. We were having company that evening and cauliflower fritters fitted well into my all vegetarian menu. The guests were close friends and deserved a special treat. I can serve these fritters as an appetizer or as part of dinner alongside the other foods (green salad with a simple vinaigrette, fresh corn scraped off the cob cooked lightly in butter, roasted vegetables tossed with a few colourful pasta shells). We’ll see where it ends up later.
I also liked how easy to make the recipe sounded. Cook the cauliflower and simply mix it in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and fry in a little oil. I can do that, I don’t like recipes that require a commercial kitchen to prepare and leave me with a sink-full of dishes to wash. Simple is better, in my kitchen.
The recipe for these fritters came from his co-author Sami Tamimi’s mother’s Na’ama’s kitchen. I have cooked a few foods from his books that he attributes to Na’ama. See the Fatoush salad with buttermilk dressing here. I seem to appreciate the authentic, earthy flavours of her foods.
I thought I’d share the recipe with you. It’s Ottolenghi’s recipe and I toned down the amount of spices just a bit to suit my taste. I think it would make a lovely appetizer to serve with drinks on the patio this summer. Next I will try the recipe with other vegetables. I have all kinds of ideas simmering in my head.
1 1/3 cups Greek yogurt (plain)
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
Grated zest of one lime
Juice of one lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small cauliflower ( 11 oz)
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 large eggs, organic free range
1 teaspoon ground cumin (Ottolenghi uses 1.5)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (Ottolenghi uses 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup canola oil for frying (Ottolenghi uses 2 cups sunflower oil)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Adjust seasoning and refrigerate for an hour to allow flavours to combine.
Cut cauliflower into small florets. You can use the stem parts as well, just cut it into the small dice.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and then the cauliflower.
Boil until cauliflower is very tender (you want it to slightly mash with the remaining ingredients).
In a bowl combine the remaining ingredients: flour, parsley, garlic, shallots, eggs, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, salt and pepper.
Add the warm cooked cauliflower and stir to combine. Press the cauliflower with the wooden spoon to mash it with the rest of the ingredients.You will have a batter like mixture.
Heat up the oil in a skillet. Don’t cook this on too high heat though, medium “sizzle” heat worked better for me.
Using a small ice cream scoop (or larger one if you want larger fritters) scoop the batter into the hot oil. I cooked them 4 at a time.
When the underside is golden turn the fritters over with a spatula and cook the other side.
Remove to a paper lined plate to drain.
Serve warm with the yogurt-lime sauce, garnished with additional parsley or cilantro.