Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Parsnip Fritters with Indian Spices

The parsnip is underrated.  I don't give it much attention, and then we're in mid-winter and I'm tired of squash and there's not a lot else going on, and then, there it is, the parsnip.  It's a stand-in for potatoes.  It's perfect roasted.  It's fragrant and slightly peppery but still mild and almost creamy.  

I really wanted to make parsnip pakoras.  That was the plan.  I had these parsnips, and I just thought they wanted to be fried up with some coriander and chili powder and cumin and all.

I thought I had it all together.  I didn't have chickpea flour, which really is key, but I had chickpeas, and that was a start.  I got my mini-chopper out and loaded it with dry chickpeas.  And it laughed at me.  And coughed a bit.

Plan b.  Ok, not pakoras, per se, but fritters.  Like a zucchini fritter but with winter veg.  And I could still bust out the coriander.  This is very similar to the Indian Spiced Vegetable Fritters over on Smitten Kitchen.  It's not quite a pakora, but it's delightful next to your curry dish. 

I started with two huge parsnips and a tiny one.  I gave them a serious scrubbing with a green kitchen scrubber (one that I use only for veg) and passed them to Sous Chef Brian to grate. 

We didn't end up using all three, but about two cups of grated parsnip.

And carrots, because they're plentiful right now. 

We cut these into matchsticks for some variation in texture.  We also minced a serrano chile and sliced up a small red onion. 

And then the batter.  So, yes, if these were real pakoras, they'd be battered in a blend of chickpea flour and rice flour with water and spices, but without chickpea flour on hand I followed the path of the zucchini fritter and broke out the eggs. 

And reminded myself that just because an egg looks different, that doesn't mean it's creepy.  I whisked up the eggs in a big bowl.

And added three tablespoons of flour.  I used two tbsp rice flour and one all purpose.  The rice flour gives pakoras a bit more crispness, which I thought wouldn't hurt here. 

The eggs and flour were whisked together and then the spices went in.  All the things that make you think this isn't a typical vegetable fritter.  I made it easy with a half teaspoon each of cumin, cayenne, coriander, garlic powder and ginger.  While I had fresh garlic and ginger on hand, I didn't want to increase the moisture in the dish, so I opted for dried.   Also, fresh cilantro, about three tablespoons worth. 

Then the veg got heaped on.  

And then I dove in with my hands and mixed it all together.   From this point on, I was worthless and sticky, but I had a kitchen partner.  If you're going it alone, I'd recommend a spoon. 

We coated the bottom of a skillet with oil (use safflower, vegetable, something without much flavor that can handle high heat), and brought that up to frying temperature (where a bead of water pops when it hits). 

Then with my incredibly sticky hand, I grabbed bundles of the mixture and dropped them in.  About a third of a cup to a half cup at a time. 

After three minutes or so, we tested them with spatula, and since they were solid and unified, flipped them. 

 Another three minutes or so and onto a cloth to drain, sprinkled with kosher salt.

We had them with chana masala. 

And they were fantastic. 

This recipe is cross-posted at the blog for the South Philly Food Co-op, whose mission is to open a member-owned cooperative grocery store that provides affordable and nutritious food to all residents of South Philadelphia while empowering the local community through sustainable practices, food-centric education, outreach, and community building.  

Become a member-owner (like me!) by filling out the application here.

print recipe

Parsnip Fritters with Indian Spices
Creamy and crispy and fragrant. Pakora-esque.
  • 2 cups Grated parsnips
  • 3/4 cup Carrots cut into matchsticks
  • 1 Serrano chile, diced
  • 1 Small red onion, sliced
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon All purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons Cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • Oil (high heat) as needed
  • Salt to taste
Whisk together eggs, flour, spices and cilantro.Mix in vegetables.Coat bottom of pan with oil, heat to shimmering. Add handfuls (spoonfuls if you want to be neat) of vegetable and batter mixture to frying pan. About a third cup or a bit more per fritter. Don't crowd. Three at a time in my pan. Fry for three minutes or so, until solid and crisp on the bottom. Flip and do the other side. Remove to cloth to drain and sprinkle with salt. Serve hot.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 9 fritters

click the thing you want to read about