the Indian spice cabinet

Until this evening, Andrew didn’t realize we had an Indian spice cabinet. This is ironic, as it is the most violent of our cupboards. All our boring, twice-a-year spices (nutmeg, thyme, italian seasoning), reside above the drinking cups, aligned in an intricate Tetris fashion. My special Indian spices, on the other hand, have a designated tiered rack above the kitchen sink. And almost every time we open this cabinet, the coriander seeds or ground cumin jars nose-dive into the sink, shattering glass all over the kitchen. We’ve mourned many ethnic spices in recent months.

Tonight was one to carefully retrieve the exotic spices from this special location, in a first-time attempt to make Indian vegetable fritters. With curry-lime sauce. Yep.  

Since drooling over this recipe on Smitten Kitchen (the most inspiring food blog ever), I’ve vowed for months I would make them and gobble them up. Mine are not as pretty as Deb’s, but they were amazing. And let me tell you, anything that has Andrew knowingly DEVOURING vegetables (zucchini! sweet potato! carrot!) speaks to its flavorful brilliance.  

I had this idiotic idea (like I so often do creating in the kitchen) that I would grate the veggies (that’s russest potato, sweet potato, carrots, onion, zucchini) by hand. On a box grater. Well, the words “hand” and “box grater” explain the bloody bandage on my right thumb…  

 

I read that hand grating (vs. utilizing my beloved food processor)  produces coarser vegetables that stick together. After grating both potatoes, attempting the onion, and stopping the bleeding from my right hand, I surrendered.  

Not that I don’t love my food processor.  

While I mixed the eggs and flour, I drained the shredded veggies in a colander lined with cheesecloth. The cheesecloth made it easier to squeeze the water from the veggies.  

love my spices

 

  

Though the recipe called for four eggs, I don’t enjoy egg-y foods—and I wanted to cut down on the fat just a tad. I used two whole eggs and two egg whites, and the consistency worked just fine. I whisked in flour, coriander, turmeric, and cumin. Smells unbelievable.  

On the side, I cooked basmati and wild rice with cumin seeds. For fluffy, authentic basmati, visit a previous post on the very topic 

I skipped out on the ginger and peas (not a fan of the latter), but loved the cilantro in these fritters. The flavor and color were just—oh gracious.  

This is not the time to skimp on fresh herbs. If you like (no, love) cilantro like me, the full two tablespoons of minced cilantro is essential.  

cilantro

 

  

This thick, rich egg mixture is a fantastic glue for all the shredded veggies. While my rice was cooking, I heated my 12″ nonstick skillet. As you may recall from the last time I made potato cakes,  I liked the browning better with my regular skillets, but nonstick was preferable here to avoid using an entire bottle of oil.  

fragrant and beautiful

 

  

By this point, the carrots and sweet potato have dyed the other pieces to unattractive colors… no matter.  

I was surprised to see the instructions to salt and pepper the veggies at this point, and also immediately after frying. I used kosher salt to lessen the sodium amount, but did find that salting is really crucial, even with all the fragrant spices. The salt enhances the complexity of these fantastic fritters.  

A warning about tumeric if you haven’t used it before: the yellow stains absolutely everything—which is why I have a special plastic spatula (circa 1992) I reserve exclusively for my Indian cooking endeavors.  

Because Deb explains it all so well, I’m going to send you to her site for ingredient amounts and directions. I must tell you that these are a great introduction to either Indian food or Indian cooking, if your taste buds have not yet ventured that far East. Also, this curry-lime sauce is so remarkably simple and divine (really, a four-year-old could make it), I intend to make it frequently for a dipping-sauce staple. Additional support for the wonderful versatility of plain yogurt.  

These are a great appetizer idea that would reheat well in the oven. Though I cooled my fritters between paper towels, as directed, I would strongly encourage placing the fritters on a (cookie) cooling rack directly from the skillet. The fritters were delicious, but weren’t as crispy sitting between damp paper towels—I’ve read that a cooling rack is the solution, but forgot about it this time around…  

This post is a bit jumpy, but there’s so much to say about Indian food!! I promise to share other favorite homemade Indian recipes in future posts. These spiced fritters speak to the simplicity of most Indian cooking—this cuisine always tastes complex, but rarely requires intricate cooking technique.  

Click here to head over to Smitten Kitchen and check out fritter-making in further detail 😀  

  

Now the great debate over who gets these leftovers for lunch…

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Filed under dinners, small bites

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