These fritters make a lovely light lunch or full-blown supper (as you can see pictured) served with wrinkled black olives and mujadara, a Middle Eastern dish consisting of lentils and rice with spices and crispy shallots. I adore dipping these fritters in fresh tzatziki made with olive oil, cucumber, garlic, yogurt, fresh dill and covering the rice with the homemade dip also.
All you need to make the fritters are two spoons and some hot water for dipping them in, so that the mixture does not stick. You’ll need to deep fry (rather than shallow fry) the balls so add enough oil to the pan so that it rises 5cm up the sides. Cook them for 3–4 minutes and then finish off in a 200°C fan oven for 5 minutes, so that the mixture is cooked through.
In this recipe I use manouri which I sourced from a Mediterranean deli in Clapham, it's a creamy ewe’s milk cheese that’s fantastic for frying or grilling. It’s not always easy to source, unfortunately, but feta is a great substitute.
3 medium courgettes (580g), trimmed and coarsely grated
2 small shallots (50g), finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
finely grated zest of 2 limes
60g self-raising flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2½ tsp ground coriander
1½ tsp ground cardamom
150g manouri (or feta), roughly broken into 1–2cm chunks
about 150ml sunflower oil, for frying
coarse sea salt and black pepper
MUJADARA - rice with lentils and crispy onions (Serves 6-8)
400ml of vegetable oil
4 large onions, cut in half and thinly sliced into half moons
275g of green lentils
1 tbsp cumin seeds
300g of basmati rice
1 tbsp of ground coriander
2tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
sea salt flakes
small handful of raisins (golden are best)
10g fresh parsley, roughly chopped for garnish
TZATZIKI (serves 4)
1 large cucumber, coarsley grated
500ml of greek yogurt
1 fat garlic clove, crushed
1 x 20g packed of dill, stalks and leaves finely chopped, saving some for garnishing
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil for drizzling
Place the grated courgettes in a colander and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside for 10 minutes, then squeeze them to remove most of the liquid,you want the courgettes to keep a little bit of moisture, so don’t squeeze them completely dry. Transfer to a large bowl and add the shallots, garlic, lime zest, flour, eggs, ground coriander, cardamom and a grind of black pepper. Mix well to form a uniform batter, then fold in the manouri cheese gently so it doesn’t break up much.
Pour enough oil into a large frying pan so it rises 2–3mm up the sides and place on a medium heat. Once hot, add 4 separate heaped dessertspoons of mixture to the pan, spacing them well apart and flattening each fritter slightly with the flat side of a slotted spoon as they cook. Cook for 6 minutes, turning once halfway through, until golden and crisp on both sides. Transfer to a kitchen paper-lined plate and keep somewhere warm while you continue with the remaining two batches. Place 3 fritters on each plate and serve at once, with the sauce alongside or in a bowl on the side.
Pour the oil into a large saucepan and preheat it over a high heat. Fry the onions (in 2-3 batches) for about 8 mins, stirring once or twice until golden brown and crispy. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate laned with kitchen paper. Drain and discard the oil from the pan.
Bring a large saucepan of water to boil, add the lentils and cook for about 15 minutes (or until they soften), but make sure they don't turn mushy as you want them to add texture to the dish. Drain and rinse them in cold water to stop them from cooking any further.
Put the pan you fried the onions in over a medium heat, add the cumin seeds and fry for a minute or so before adding the rice, the other spices and a generous amount of sea salt faleks. Next add the lentils and raisins to the rice and stir well. Add the water, give the mixture one last stir, then cover with a lid, reduce the temperature to its lowest setting and cook for 20 minutes to steam the rice.
Turn off the heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes with the lid left on, allowing the rice to cook through.
Mix through the grains with 3/4s of the crispy onions and add the remaining onions as a garnish on top. Serve with chopped fresh parsley.
1. Carefully squeeze out and discard the excess water from the grated cucumber. I find it easiest do this by placing the gratings in a sieve lined with a couple of sheets of kitchen towel and pushing down on them with a spoon, then you can fold up the gratings in the towel, squeeze even more then unfold the parcel of cucumber ready to use in the dip. This stage is important as the water will make the dip runny as opposed to the thick consistency we're aiming for.
2. Place the cucumber in a mixing bowl and mix with the yogurt.
3. Add the garlic and dill, mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and sprigs of dill.