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From "Raga Cuisine of India" comes another favorite local (to Seattle) restaurant recipe. The book says the same spiced batter could coat shrimp, cubed fish, or strips of chicken to serve as a substantial starter or part of a main course. The batter will thicken the longer it stands, so it's best to coat the vegetables and fry them right after it is made. Be sure to have the vegetables already trimmed and portioned before you begin to mix the batter. Pick a couple of contrasting chutneys--perhaps one spicy, one milder-- to serve with the fritters. Ajwain is a unique spice, related to caraway and cumin but with a flavor more reminiscent of thyme. It's available in Indian markets and specialty spice shops but can also be omitted from the recipe. Gram flour (not to be confused with graham flour) may also be labeled 'besan' or 'chickpea' or 'garbanzo' flour.
- 2 teaspoons oil, plus more for deep-frying
- 1 cup gram flour (chickpea)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed, lightly crushed
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed, lightly crushed
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1⁄2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ajwain seed, lightly crushed (optional)
- 1 cup water, approximately
- 1 lb mixed vegetables, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces (such as cauliflower, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, onion, and/or green beans)
- chutney, for serving
- Pour oil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches into a deep-fryer or a large, heavy saucepan and heat over medium-high heat to 350F.
- (The oil should come no more than halfway up the sides of the pan.) While the oil is heating, prepare the batter.
- Combine the flour, 2 tsp oil, cumin, coriander, cayenne, garlic, salt, baking powder, and ajwain (if using) in a medium bowl.
- While stirring, gradually pour in enough water to make a batter of coating consistency.
- Working in batches, dip the vegetable pieces into the batter, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, then carefully lower the coated vegetables into the hot oil.
- Do not crowd the pan.
- Fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the fritters from the oil with tongs or a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- Continue with the remaining vegetables, allowing the oil to reheat between batches as needed.
- Arrange the fritters on a warmed platter and serve immediately with chutney alongside for dipping.