Most Indians have a thing about overcast skies and fritters and chai. Deep fried goodness of flour coated vegetables, chillies, or fish is much loved on most days. But when it rains, this thing that we have for all things fritters takes a heady turn. Sort of like a dull, pleasing yearning. We crave for chai and pakode. I don’t know why, but we do.
There is a warm comfort in holding a steamy cup of chai or the kashmiri Kehwa , indulging in the crunch of the fritter and watching the rain through the window or sitting out in the balcony if you are lucky to have one.
My favorite memories of eating fritters are with my daughter. We lived in Hyderabad (India) and our rains arrived in June and lasted till late September. She would play in the rain with her friends, get soaked to the bone, jump in the little puddles, make a muddy mess and beautiful memories. She would then come home ( not voluntarily) and order a hot chocolate with cheese-balls. Dollops of Amul cheese, floured and breaded and deep fried. The devotion with which she would eat those is etched in my heart.
Her 5 year old just showered self, rosy cheeks from all the playing and the shine in her eyes. Those were the perfect days for her. And every
once a while now and then, she would request a batch for her friends. One? Two ? No… All 16 of them. Aged between 4 and 8 .. they all played together in the apartment complex, so they were all friends. And they would all come over to eat cheese-balls. I am not sure if it was the cheese-balls or the fact that they all could play a little while longer that motivated them. But it was a very endearing sight.
So you see, we teach them young – the flavors of all things deep fried and then we go on to have a thing or two with rains and chai and pakode.
This Alaskan Cod Fritters recipe is my take on the Indian machli pakoda ( fish fritter). It was raining. There was a tornado warning . The sky was . furious and I did not have the usual vegetables to make fritters . But I was not stepping out. Oh but I had the craving and it was urging me to be creative.
Checked the freezer – cod fillets .. good
Checked the fridge – left over chutney – excellent, yogurt – nice
Checked the pantry – Oil, Besan ( chickpea flour ), Tahini – things are getting interesting
Checked the spice cabinet : Za’atar, sumac, cumin … .. and a plethora of other herbs and spices.. alright I gave in.
The result of all this consulting with the different departments in my kitchen was amazing. A fish pakoda with a Mediterranean twist. It was soul satisfying if I may say so myself.
Alaskan Cod Fritters – Mediterranean Inspired With a Cilantro Mint Tahini Dip
- 1/4 cup Besan Chick pea flour
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon Za'atar
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sumac optional
- oil for frying
- 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne
- 1 tablespoon Tahini
- 2 heaped tablespoons greek yogurt or any plain yogurt
- 2 teaspoons Mint Cilantro Chutney
- Mix the salt, cayenne,cumin, Zaatar, sumac (if using), salt and besan in a bowl.
- Add the water and make a batter. It should be thick enough to coat the fish
- Slice the fish in fingers and dip it in the batter and coat each piece well
- Heat oil to about 375* F . If the temperature is hotter, the fish will not cook through and if it is lesser than 350* it will absorb a LOT of oil
- Fry the fish fingers in the oil - a few at a time. The frying will be done in one or two batches based on how big a pan you use. Smaller pan means lesser oil wasted after frying, but more batches of frying. which works for me.
- 6.fry for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden and crisp
- 7.scoop out , drain on a paper towel.
- Tahini Dip
- 8.Mix the yogurt, tahini and chutney together and the dip is ready.
- 9.Serve the dip with the fresh fried Cod fritters.