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Bread fritters

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi anticipated that readers of Jerusalem (yay, I just got the book!) might be sceptical about their recipe for a'ja or bread fritters.
"It may not sound appetizing, but taste it once, and see what it's all about," they say about the herbed-based fritters that use leftover bread and seasonal vegetables. I couldn't imagine what they would be like when I read the recipe, but I was really pleased with how they turned out. This is a simple recipe and open to one's own interpretation. 
And that is what I did when I made the fritters. I didn't have all the herbs that were asked for in the recipe, nor the feta that was included, so I just put in stuff that I had and produced something that I liked. I think the most important element is the bread – it must be robust and flavourful. I used a homemade sourdough. It was a little stale but that worked for the fritters. If you want to fool someone into thinking they were eating meat, these have the texture of minced chicken ;-)
Another inspiring recipe from the book is fried cauliflower with tahini. The cauliflower is separated into florets and fried and then served with a tahini- and pomegranate molasses-flavoured yoghurt. Unfortunately, I didn't have tahini, but again it didn't matter. Instead, I combined strained yoghurt with a little sesame oil and added chopped Chinese celery leaves, spring onion leaves, lime juice, chilli powder and pomegranate molasses (I'm sure another type of syrup would be fine).
Instead of florets, I cut a head of cauliflower crosswise through the stem to make a "steak", about 1.2cm thick. It's not seasoned but simply pan-fried on both sides. It's such an easy way to bring out the flavour of the vegetable.
The fried cauliflower, yoghurt dressing and bread fritters were excellent together, and I'm already on to more recipes from Jerusalem. The ones with vegetables all look so good and I'll be trying the meat dishes after Lent.
A'ja mixture (left) and fried with the cauliflower steak
Bread Fritters
Makes 6. Inspired by the recipe in Jerusalem. Herb and spice amounts are approximate; season to taste.

1 thick slice of good bread, crust removed (about 50g)
1 medium egg
½ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp paprika
½ long red chilli, chopped
1 tbsp chopped spring onion
1 tbsp chopped fresh Chinese celery leaves
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Sunflower oil for frying

Soak the bread in cold water for 1 minute, then squeeze well.
Crumble bread into a bowl and add the egg, spices and herbs.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Scoop slightly heaped tablespoons of batter into the pan. Fry the fritters for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

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