Technically, Cauliflower Fritters with Cilantro-Ginger Sauce is a side dish. But my daughters scarfed so many of these beer-battered Indian-spiced fritters that they declared it “dinner.” Served with rice and salad, it would indeed make a terrific vegetarian entree. The recipe comes from Alex Guarnaschelli via Foodnetwork.com.
Look for firm cauliflower with compact florets and crisp, fresh leaves with no signs of yellowing or wilting. Avoid cauliflower with small brown specks on the florets; they are a sign of aging.
Depending on how dip-happy your family is (mine can never get enough), you may want to double the sauce recipe.
Cauliflower Fritters with Cilantro-Ginger Sauce
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon olive oil
1- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 small bunch cilantro leaves, snipped
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon canola oil, plus 6 cups for frying (divided)
1½ bottles beer, room temperature
1 large head cauliflower, stemmed, broken into bite-sized pieces, washed and thoroughly dried
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Water, for thinning
Prepare sauce: Put fresh ginger, olive oil, coriander seeds, and cilantro in a bowl and toss to combine.
Prepare fritters: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, turmeric, and ground ginger. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil and whisk in the beer. Set aside in a warm place because, like a bread dough, it will puff up slightly.
Break the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, and wash and dry them thoroughly. Place pieces in a medium bowl and use a small strainer to sprinkle them with an even layer of paprika. Toss to coat.
In a large pot over medium heat, add remaining 6 cups of oil and heat to 350°.
Stir batter slightly. Put a couple of pieces of cauliflower on a slotted spoon and submerge into batter. It should coat the pieces lightly. (If batter is too thick, add a little water; if it’s too thin, whisk in a bit more sifted flour.)
Cook 1 piece of cauliflower to check for seasoning. Drain excess batter and lower cauliflower bite into the oil. It should bubble slightly and cauliflower will gradually rise to the surface. Fry until golden brown; drain on paper towels. Season with salt.
Fry remaining cauliflower in small batches and drain on paper towels. Transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with Cilantro-Ginger Sauce and serve immediately.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Gretchen McKay is a food writer at the Post-Gazette.