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Vegan Fritters Three Ways

Freelance writer from the northeast coast of England with a fondness for vegan food and punk rock.

Chickpea fritters with potato salad and dipping sauce

Chickpea fritters with potato salad and dipping sauce

If there’s one thing the plant world has given us in abundance, it’s fritters. Vegetables dipped in a form of batter and then deep-fried are enjoyed all around the world. From the onion bhaji to tempura mushrooms, and from cauliflower pakora to the humble pineapple fritter that was a mainstay vegetarian option at fish and chip shops here in the UK, we've had a long-running love affair with all things battered and fried. There are sweetcorn fritters, eggplant fritters—heck, even banana fritters. There is something immensely satisfying about biting into a crispy batter-coated piece of food, and if a dipping sauce is included, then so much the better.

Recipes on This Page

  1. Banana fritters
  2. Tempura mushrooms
  3. Onion bhajis
Banana fritters with syrup and black sesame seeds

Banana fritters with syrup and black sesame seeds

Recipe 1: Banana Fritters

In these parts, on the northeast coast of England, a plate of fritters usually means potatoes. From childhood I have crunched my way through many a portion of half-inch thick slabs of potato, which were battered, deep-fried and then doused in vinegar. But I would soon learn that there were other forms of fritter out there.

When I was in my early teens, a boy at school revealed to a group of us that he’d had banana fritters the previous night. We all laughed, never having heard of frying something sweet in batter. To us, fritters were savoury things to be served with fried fish. The boy insisted that the dish had been a tasty one, but we were having none of it, and from that day on said boy was nicknamed Fried Banana, although only behind his back and good-naturedly. He was a decent sort.

Of course, young Fried Banana had been right and we, in our ignorance, were wrong. Banana fritters are delicious; crispy on the outside and viscous within. Here’s how to make them.

Ingredients

  • Oil for frying
  • 2 bananas (not overripe)
  • 1 cup (200 grams) plain/all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 millilitres) plant milk (I use unsweetened soya)
  • Water as needed

Method

  1. Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.
  2. Add the soya milk and whisk.
  3. Drizzle in water until you have a smooth, quite thick batter
  4. Slice the bananas into bite-sized chunks.
  5. Submerge the banana in the batter, and then transfer individual chunks to the hot oil (I find my fingers perform this task best).
  6. Stir the fritters about and turn them over so they cook evenly.
  7. After about 1 minute, the batter should be crisp and the inside almost liquid.
  8. Remove from the pan and drain.
  9. Serve with your favourite topping.

Tips

  • Top the fritters with things like syrup, maple syrup, icing sugar, sesame seeds, sprinkles, or whatever takes your fancy.
  • Try pineapple fritters for that old-school fish and chip shop vibe.
Tempura mushrooms around sweet and sour vegetables with rice

Tempura mushrooms around sweet and sour vegetables with rice

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Read More From Delishably

Recipe 2: Tempura Mushrooms

In Ken Hom’s Vegetable and Pasta Book, the author tells us that the key to good tempura batter is ice-cold water. The batter should be whisked up just as the oil is heating. I find that regular mushrooms work well in this dish (e.g., button, closed cup and chestnut), but I'm sure more exotic varieties will work just as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium punnet of mushrooms (about a dozen fungi)
  • 120 grams (1 cup) flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour/cornstarch
  • 100 millilitres water (approximately), chilled

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan or wok.
  2. Sift the flour, cornflour/cornstarch into a bowl (or whisk to combine and break down any lumps).
  3. When the oil is hot, submerge individual mushrooms in the batter, and drop into the hot oil. Fry for about 1 minute, by which time the batter should be crisp and the enclosed mushroom cooked. Drain and serve immediately.

Tips

  • Don’t overcrowd the pan. Tempura cook better if they have room to move about.
  • Many other vegetables work well with this batter. Try broccoli, eggplant or sweet potato.
  • Try soda water instead of regular water for a lighter batter.
Onion bhajis with sweet chilli sauce

Onion bhajis with sweet chilli sauce

Recipe 3: Onion Bhajis

In the 1980s, onion bhajis enjoyed a wave of popularity around my town. They came out of nowhere, and suddenly it seemed like every takeaway sold them. At a party one night, someone had cooked up a whole batch of these crispy, spicy delicacies. Of course I jotted down the recipe, and have been making them ever since. They are simple to prepare and, like most fritters, they go very well with sweet chilli sauce.

I used two medium onions to yield the four bhajis in the photo.

Ingredients

  • Oil for frying
  • 100 grams gram flour
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 100 millilitres water (approximately)
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Sift the flour in a bowl, or whisk it to break down any lumps.
  2. Stir in the chilli powder and turmeric, and add the water.
  3. Beat the mixture until a smooth batter is formed. It shouldn't be runny.
  4. Add the onions and stir everything together.
  5. Heat the oil in a pan or wok.
  6. When the oil is hot, take a large spoonful of the mixture and gently lower it into the hot oil.
  7. After about 1 minute, turn the bhaji over and continue to fry for about 2 minutes more.
  8. Remove from the pan, drain and serve with a sauce of your choice.

Tips

  • Gram flour is made from chickpeas. It may be called garbanzo flour or besan flour.
  • Using a second spoon to scrape the bhaji mix into the pan might help.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan. The bhajis cook much better if they have room to move about.
  • Try these with vegan raita (yoghurt, cucumber and mint).

Note

I couldn’t find a photo of onion bhajis in my files, so I made some specifically for this article. I had those ones in the photo above for lunch today and they were, if I say so myself, delicious.

Fritter Prep Playlist

I'm old enough to remember the TV show Department S, from which these guys took their name. The post-punk era produced an abundance of cool and quirky tunes, not least this slice of poppy, punky pleasure.

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