Courgette fritters

I always thought of courgette fritters as something you order at a greek tavern and because they taste so amazing I assumed they would be too difficult to make at home. I do have an irrational fear of deep-frying too so that might have contributed to my reluctance. It turns out they are pretty easy, and you can shallow fry them instead. We even made a “diet” version by dry frying them on a non-stick pan. They turned out less like fritters and more like savoury pancakes, but still tasted great. I added a red pointy pepper for sweetness and some chili for a bit of a kick.

Courgette fritters

Ingredients (serves 3 as a main)

2 large courgettes, grated
1 red pointed pepper, chopped finely
3-4 spring onions, chopped finely
150 gr feta, crumbled
1-2 chillies, chopped finely
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried dill (or a handful of fresh dill, chopped)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
pinch of salt
lots of ground pepper
2 eggs
about 4 tbsp flour, to get the right consistency

Mix all the ingredients together, adding the flour slowly and mixing until you get a gloopy but not too thick consistency. In the meantime, heat some sunflower/olive oil in a frying pan; you want plenty to cover the bottom of the pan and be about 1/2 cm high. With the pan over medium-high heat, use a tablespoon to carefully drop some mixture in the pan and slightly flatten the top. Cook on one side until golden brown and then flip it to cook the other side. If they seem to be cooking too quickly you can turn the heat down a bit, as you don’t want them to still be raw on the inside. A few minutes on each side should do. Remove and place on kitchen roll to absorb the extra oil.

Serve these with tzatziki (garlicky yoghurt with cucumber) for dipping. They are also perfect as part of a greek meze dinner, as I did recently, serving them with spetsofai, a slab of feta and lots of crusty bread.

Saffron Yoghurt with Fennel Seed Biscuits (Indian #2)

In my search for different Indian dishes to try, the BBC website has been a big help. Have you ever watched the Indian Food Made Easy show? Although names like that normally put me off (possibly because it sounds like you’re cheating!) I have enjoyed the few shows I have watched and the food always looked really yummy. All the recipes are available online, and quite a few of them are accompanied by a video clip of the particular dish in the show, so it’s very useful and makes it easy to follow.

I saw this recipe for Fennel Seed Biscuits and I thought I’d give them a go. For some reason, I had imagined them to be shortbread-style, but after reading the recipe I realised they were nothing like it. For starters, they needed frying rather than baking. As mentioned in the recipe, they go nicely with creamy desserts, so I decided to make this Saffron Yogurt to go with them. I love using saffron, just because it looks awesome, and it seems like an extravagant thing to do. Pity I don’t have a clue where to use it! This recipe was starting to sound perfect for me.

Sweet Saffron Yoghurt (Shrikand) (recipe adapted from here)

Ingredients

500 ml greek-style yoghurt
2 tsp milk
1/2 tsp saffron
icing sugar (to taste)
1/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds

Heat the milk in a cup in the microwave and crumble the saffron strands in it. Let the saffron infuse for 5-10 minutes. Every now and then, use the back of a teaspoon to crush the saffron into the milk.
Mix the icing sugar with yoghurt until it’s sweet enough for you. I don’t like it too sweet actually, especially with the biscuits, so I think I must have used 3 tbsp. 
Add the saffron milk (I discarded the saffron but, thinking about it, I probably should have kept it) and the ground cardamom seeds. Leave it in the fridge until ready to serve.

Note that the recipe calls for you to drain excess water from the yoghurt by draining it for a few hours in the fridge, using a tea towel and a sieve. I skipped that step as I used a tub of Total Greek yoghurt, which is already quite thick. If you use thinner yoghurt, you probably want to follow that step and also use more than 500 ml as it will lose water and reduce in volume.

Fennel Seed Biscuits (adapted from here)

Ingredients

80g plain flour, sifted
70g caster sugar
140ml milk
1½ tsp fennel seeds, ground to a powder in a pestle and mortar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp ground almonds
2 tbsp butter, melted
4 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil, for frying

Mix all the ingredients (apart from the oil/ghee) in a bowl and let them rest for 10 minutes. Heat the oil or ghee in a small frying pan and drop tablespoons of the mix in it. Fry for a couple of minutes, turning once. You want to have the oil hot enough so that they don’t absorb too much oil, but not too hot because the edges will brown too much. When cooked, place them on some kitchen towel to get rid of excess oil.  

I’m not sure whether these two are served together traditionally but I think the biscuits went very well with the sweet and fragrant yogurt. I’m sure you could have them separately or use them in different combinations. We actually had some of the yogurt by itself the next day, but it would also be very good with a sprinking of nuts.

Previously on Round the World in 100 Recipes:
King Prawn Puri 

Next time on Round the World in 100 Recipes: Trying to use up all those prawns. They turn out great.

King Prawn Puri (Indian #1)

Do you know how the famous Chicken Tikka Massala was invented? Apparently no Indian chef has been able to claim it. Instead, it was first made in London, when a Bangladeshi chef added tomato sauce and spices to a Chicken Tikka to satisfy a diner who asked “Where is my gravy?”. Not sure if that makes it English or Indian and I’m undecided on whether that Londoner should go down in history as an ignorant diner or, in a sense, the father of the most popular Anglo-Indian dish. Possibly both.

So where does one learn about Indian food? If the story about Chicken Tikka Massala is anything to go by, visiting a curry house is probably far from an authentic Indian experience. I’ve been trying to do a little bit of research on the internet but it’s not always easy to distinguish between traditional Indian food and a spiced up English stew.

Having said all that, the first thing I’m making is a curry house favourite: King Prawn Puri. I’ve combined a few recipes off the internet, picking the best (i.e. easiest) bits from each one of them.

King Prawn Puri

For the puri

250g wholemeal flour
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
Lukewarm water
Oil for frying

Mix the oil, flour and salt, and slowly add water to make a dough. Knead until smooth, place in a bowl and cover with a towel. Let it rise for about an hour. I find that it’s better to roll each one out as you go, rather than preparing them all first and then frying, as the dough gets quite sticky. 

 

Heat some oil (or ghee) in a wok or some other deep pan and drop a puri in. It should puff up, either a little or possibly fully (the one in the picture is my most successful one, but they all tasted good!). They only need a few seconds on each side, do not let them brown or they’ll turn crispy. You want them cooked but still soft. Put each one on kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oiliness and prepare the next one.

For the prawns

500g raw king prawns
2 tbsps tomato puree
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tsps of mustard seeds
2 tsps of turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
Salt to season
A little oil or ghee (clarified butter) for frying
Some chopped coriander

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Move away from the pan and let them fry until they pop! Add onions and garlic and fry until soft. Add the rest of the spices, the prawns and when they are looking cooked (i.e. pink), add the tomato puree and some water to make it saucy. You don’t want too much liquid, but it shouldn’t be completely dry either. Cook for a few more minutes until the prawns are cooked through and the flavours are combined.

Serve each puri with some of the prawns and the sauce. I forgot the coriander leaves, as I was quite panicky with all the frying (big containers of hot oil scare me a little) but it was still very good. The puri is soft and chewy and perfect when combined with the juices of the sauce.

I haven’t got any onion in mine as I had run out so I think it looks a bit drier than it should, but the flavours were brilliant. Serve with a squeeze of lemon: I love the acidity of it as it cuts through any oiliness that you get from the fried bread. Prawns and lemon are best mates anyway!

I’ll therefore declare my first Indian dish a success, and move on to the next one with a lot more confidence! If you have any suggestions or tips or just some more knowledge on authentic Indian food, please leave a comment!

Next time on Round the World in 100 recipes: My first Indian dessert!