What’s thriving in the winter vegetable garden? Cauliflower. Gorgeous creamy heads by the wheelbarrow load. Here’s an interesting bit of trivia. Cauliflower heads, technically known as curds, consist of intricate whorls of tiny flower buds. The heavy green leaves that surround the curd protect those buds from sunlight and inhibit their exposure to chlorophyll so that they retain their creamy colour rather than turn green.
Even if you don’t have access to produce directly from a garden bed, the markets are currently awash with cauliflower and its cool climate cruciferous cousins all descended from the brassica family: brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and kale. Super foods which are all easily incorporated into a winter diet and pack a powerful nutrient punch.
There are so many different and interesting ways to enjoy cauliflower once you start to think outside the square. Sometimes I simply throw a few florets into a minestrone or lentil soup or let it star in a surprisingly low calorie, dairy free Cauliflower, Potato and Leek Soup. It’s also easily transformed into a fabulous Cannelini and Cauliflower Mash, a gorgeously nutty Roasted Cauliflower With Lemon. Garlic and Chilli or an uber trendy Cauliflower Couscous With Fresh Harissa. Hands down my family’s favourite has always been a crunchy fried concoction of Cauliflower Florets Crusted With Semolina and Polenta. For today’s offering I’m delving into my spice chest and making these gloriously hued Indian Spiced Cauliflower Fritters.
Deliciously light and moreish these fritters are surprisingly filling and by happy coincidence, rather than design, also happen to be gluten free. The crisp fluffy batter is an interesting amalgam of spiced chickpea flour, tangy yoghurt and eggs. Coriander and spring onions are added with lightly steamed and cooled cauliflower just before frying. It is important not to over steam the cauliflower at this point. The florets should retain their crispness and bite and neither be soft nor waterlogged.as the cauliflower will continue to cook as the fritters fry. Of course chickpea flour is not exactly a pantry staple in most households, so feel free to substitute ordinary plain flour, remembering that should you do so the recipe will no longer be gluten free.
Indian Spiced Cauliflower Fritters
1/2 cauliflower, divided into small florets
1 cup chickpea flour (regular plain flour can be substituted if preferred)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup (250 grams) natural yoghurt
3 eggs, lightly whisked
3 long green spring onions, finely sliced
1/3 cup fresh coriander leaves, finely sliced, plus extra to garnish
vegetable oil, for shallow frying
fresh lemon cheeks, to serve
sea salt, to season
MICROWAVE or steam cauliflower florets until just tender and still firm to the bite. Set aside to drain and cool on absorbent kitchen paper as you prepare the batter.
SIFT together chickpea flour, cumin, ground coriander, baking powder and turmeric into a large mixing bowl.
WHISK together yoghurt, eggs and a generous pinch of salt in a small jug or bowl.
ADD wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring well to combine. Leave the batter to settle for at least 15 minutes. Batter can be made ahead and stored in the fridge.
WHEN ready to fry the fritters stir the sliced coriander leaves and spring onions into the batter.
HEAT about 5 cm oil in a large wok over medium heat until hot. Dip cauliflower florets into the batter in three of four batches at a time and add to the hot oil.
COOK, turning twice, for 2-3 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all remaining cauliflower and batter has been used.
PLACE fritters onto a serving platter. Season with sea salt and garnish with additional coriander leaves and lemon cheeks.
SERVE immediately whilst piping hot.