So the Great British Summer is upon us and of course it’s all grey and drizzly out there. I always swear by a big steaming cup of tea, with a good book in one hand and a plate of fresh bhajis to munch on as the most comforting way to counteract the dreaded June mizzle. But today I discovered something a little bit different, something that turned out to be astonishingly delicious….
It all started when I spied a sign for “vegetarian” fish and chips outside an old boozer in Spitalfields. On closer inspection this turned out to be chip shop battered halloumi and it got me daydreaming. After all, a speciality amongst Bengali street food is “Ponir Majestic”; which is spicy battered and deep fried ponir cheese (“paneer” is the softer, unsalted Indian version). So why not show a nice lump of halloumi an equally good time?
This recipe was the end result of that thought process and I must admit, it’s a bit of a beaut. In fact, I’m rather proud to have the sort of gluttonous mind that would dream up such a thing.
The results were a crisp, garlicky, cumin-scented crust which crunched satisfyingly into hot salty, molten cheese…it married well with tamarind chutney and went even better with a big splodge of Daddy’s sauce. As the cheese is already so salty you don’t really need to put much in the batter. And you definitely have to wolf it down fryer fresh, it doesn’t take kindly to hanging around. Luckily it was so good I’m slightly ashamed to admit I ate an entire block of the stuff in about 15 minutes and immediately felt the urge to buy more sheep’s cheese and pretty much repeat to fade. With a treat this tasty, there’s a part of me that definitely wants it to keep on drizzling….
1 block of halloumi, drained and sliced ( I cut about 9 slices from one block)
½ wine glass of fizzy water
2 ½ oz (70g) gram (chickpea) flour
1 oz (30g)rice flour
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp good curry powder ( I used Tab & Sons)
1 tsp garam masala
¼ tsp salt (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
1 heaped tsp dry roasted, ground cumin powder
Oil for deep frying
Kitchen paper for draining
- Heat the oil up to deep frying pitch.
- Stir together the gram and rice flours with the salt, garam masala, baking, cumin and curry powders.
- Add the garlic and slowly stir in the water, until you have the consistency of double cream (don’t worry if there are a few lumps, this only enhances the texture of the crust)
- Coat each slice of halloumi in the batter
- Deep fry, drain and devour