Zucchini Fritters

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I’m not sure what Sundays are like elsewhere anymore, in cities where everything stays open on these most holy of days. In Germany - and most of Europe - everything is closed, except cafes and restaurants, museums and some kiosks. It's actually a great concept, it automatically means you don't planned in a hair dresser's appointment or a run to Ikea - it allows for more of a down day spent with friends and family or just by yourself. BUT - if you weren't organised with the groceries by Saturday, there’s a good chance you’ll be staring into the fridge on Sunday evening wondering what you can possibly make with all those leftovers that weren’t dustbin-ready. That was sort of the case this past Sunday, and since neither of us was in the mood to eat out, I decided to take the challenge and try figuring something out. I also felt like something Indian, so after setting some daal in a pot to cook, I opened the fridge to behold two large zucchinis. One of these I converted into some pretty delicious fritters, that we ate with the daal, raita and some toasted tortillas, by candlelight with a spontaneous dinner guest. They were surprisingly easy to make, behaved very well in the pan and can be customized any number of ways. I can imagine making these in combination: broccoli and sweet potato, cauliflower and potato, zucchini and fresh spinach. Give these a try next time you want something quick and delicious: it’s a great option for a weeknight meal, with a salad or soup on the side.

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Zucchini Fritters

1 large zucchini
1 shallot, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
3 - 5 tablespoons besan (chickpea flour)
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground chilli (or paprika, to taste)
salt to taste
1 cup sunflower or a similar neutral oil, for frying

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Wash and dry the zucchini, then cut off the head and tail. Using a coarse grater or a food processor, grate it down to fine ribbons. Working in batches, take a handful of the grated zucchini and squeeze hard to remove water. Place the squeezed handfuls into a medium-sized mixing bowl.

In a large non-stick pan, heat about 1 cup of sunflower or a similar oil on a high flame. Its important that the oil is hot once you start the frying, but not smoking: smoking hot will result in burnt fritters and a kitchen that smells terrible, and warm oil will result in oil-sogged fritters. Make sure the oil is fairly warm before preparing the fritters. If there a significant delay between the two, give the zucchini another squeeze before starting.

Add the shallots, garlic and coriander to the zucchini and mix together using your hands. Add all the spices and mix together again. Add 3 tablespoons of the chickpea flour and gently mix to combine. The flour should coat the zucchini mix, but shouldn’t be too powdery. Add some salt to taste, about 1/2 to 3/4th teaspoon and mix again.

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Place a large plate next to the mixing bowl. Place a small lemon-sized ball of the mix on one palm and using the other hand, gently press it as flat as you’d like the fritters to be. If the mix feels too wet, add some more chickpea flour, but be careful: it has a strong taste and you want to avoid flour-dense fritters. Repeat with the remaining mix, you should have about 6 - 8 fritters.

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To test whether the oil is the right temperature, drop a tiny bit of the mix into it. If it sinks very briefly but then bubbles to the surface, it's ready. Place another plate by the stove, covered with some kitchen towels. Gently lower the fritters into the oil, taking care not to overcrowd. Fry for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side, take care not to over-brown. Using a slotted spoon, turn them over and once done, remove to the prepared plate and allow to drain. Repeat this with the remaining fritters. Allow to cool a bit and then serve immediately. We ate these with daal and some raita, they’d taste equally good with some chutney, a soup or salad.

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Makes about 6 - 8 fritters

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