People often ask why I started blogging and it always comes down to sharing and celebrating. I love to share with my friends here how to get that comforting tomato-y daal just right or bring a few simple ingredients together for a flavorful comforting pasta. I cherish the flavours I grew up with as well as the ones that I have discovered as an adult. Blogging to me is a celebration of it all. Sometimes though - like with these Cauliflower Fritters - it means even more.
Because a thing I have thought about a lot this year, but from a different lens is the power and legacy of food. I thought about it in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and the value of honoring (and acknowledging) the cultural origins of food. More pertinent to this post, I have thought about this in context to the sweeping category of Middle Eastern food. The "Middle East" as we call it comprises of 17 countries. Generalizing it's cuisine seems to be a bit of an injustice.
Palestine today is a fraction of what Palestine was in 1947. Whatever your personal political views are on the subject that's a dramatic reduction of a nation. It is also a dramatic reduction of a people. Current estimates suggest that the Palestinian population in Palestine is 5 million. DOUBLE that amount are part of the diaspora. Many of the Palestinians that still reside in Palestine are living in conditions none of us would choose.
I have always known the information above. But until I read Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan and Falastin by Tamimi & Wigley I didn't feel it. Page after page of the exploration of food and the human stories that come with it. The variation in diet by parts of Palestine, the gift that is the ability to create out of little, all of it had a powerful impact on me.
These Cauliflower Fritters represent that impact. They have basic ingredients that I can find in any grocery store anywhere with spices that have always been in my pantry, but when I put them together I can almost imagine a young Sami Tamimi's mother frying them for him after school. There is something almost magical about food that way. Similar ingredients combined in different ways can create worlds that are connected, but beautifully dissimilar.
As a quick note I will say that I know Cauliflower Fritters are made all over the Middle East and are not unique to Palestine alone. I however discovered them through Falastin.
How to Make Cauliflower Fritters
The process for making these fritters is super simple.
- Mash lightly boiled cauliflower
- Stir in the remaining ingredients
- Drop by the spoonfuls into shimmering hot oil and pan fry on either side
- Mint Yogurt Sauce is a quick mix and entirely not optional
Made the Cauliflower Fritters? Rate them below by clicking the number of stars on the recipe card. Happy Cooking my friends!
- 3 cups Cauliflower florets (1 small cauliflower)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ½-3/4 cup finely minced onion (approx one onion)
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- ⅓ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp cayenne / red chili powder
- ½ tsp chili flakes
- ½ tsp baking powder
- salt and pepper to taste (I usually put 1 level tsp salt)
- 1 tbsp chopped mint (1 tsp if using dried)
- 1 cup yogurt (greek or plain)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- lemon wedges (optional)
Boil the cauliflower florets in a medium pan for 4-5 minutes or until tender enough to mash but not totally mushy. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water
Drain the florets and tip them into a bowl, mash lightly
Gently toss in the flour, spices, baking powder, onions and then add the eggs and mix just to coat - don't over mix.
Add a little of the 'cauliflower water' using just enough to get a slightly runny batter.
Heat oil in a saute pan or a frying pan and when it's hot carefully place large spoonfuls of the batter in the oil, making sure it leave space enough to flip between your fritters.
Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until a beautiful golden.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the fritters from oil, and drain of excess grease on a wire rack or a paper towel before serving.
Repeat until your batter is used up and serve with mint yogurt and lemon wedges
Combine the yogurt ingredients in a bowl, whisking well. Adjust seasoning to personal preference.