My favourite brunch from my favourite cafe, Milk, in Balham is Sweet Maria – a couple of sweetcorn fritters with grilled halloumi, smashed avo, kasundi (an Indian tomato relish) and lime, with optional bacon (when is bacon ever optional?). Every time I go I promise myself I’ll try something else (their crumpets with goat’s curd and honeycomb is really really good but entirely paleo-unfriendly), but every time I end up having the Sweet Maria. It’s that good. I knew I wanted to try it at home using vegetables other than sweetcorn and tried out a version back in October with butternut squash and carrots, which came out pretty good – I posted a couple of pictures on Instagram back then, with a promise to produce a recipe, but I somehow never got around to it. So when we had to do an assignment for ‘Vegetables’ for the Natural Chef course, I thought this would be a good time to perfect the recipe. I adapted the fritter recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and the tomato coulis is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey.
This makes a perfect lazy Sunday brunch or vegetarian lunch (without the bacon!). My favourite thing about this dish is that you can change the vegetables in the fritters according to the season, so leek and cauliflower as a winter alternative, broccoli and leeks in the spring, courgettes and chard in summer, squash and carrots in the autumn. During the summer you can use fresh tomatoes instead of tinned for the tomato coulis.
Ingredients. Serves four.
- 250g halloumi, sliced into 1cm-thick slices.
- 1 avocado, mashed, to serve
- 8 rashers of streaky bacon
For the fritters:
- 2 tablespoons ground almonds
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 4 eggs
- 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ¼ swede (140–160g), grated
- 1 medium parsnip (140–160g), grated
- 2–3 tbsp coconut oil for frying
For the tomato coulis:
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ tsp whole fennel
- 1 tsp whole cumin
- ½ tsp kalonji (onion seeds; optional)
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
Method. Preparation time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 10 minutes.
- First make the fritter mixture. Place the ground almonds, parsley, garlic, shallots, eggs, spices, salt and pepper and mix to a thick batter. It should be the consistency of thick porridge. Add the grated swede and parsnip and mix thoroughly so the batter is evenly distributed amongst the vegetables.
- Next make the tomato coulis. Blend half the tin of tomatoes with the ginger and garlic until smooth. Heat the coconut oil in a medium heavy-bottomed cast iron frying pan until melted; add the whole fennel, cumin and kalonji. When the spices have turned a shade darker (about 30 seconds), add the tomato mixture, the rest of the tin of tomatoes and the ground spices. Be careful; it may spit! Stir well and allow to cook down on a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The coulis is ready when it’s thick and spoonable; keep it going on a low heat while you cook the bacon, fritters and halloumi.
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed cast iron frying pan on a medium heat and place the strips of bacon in the pan. Allow to crisp and render out the fat; remove when the bacon are crispy and keep warm in a low oven.
- For the fritters: Turn the heat up to medium high and add some coconut oil if the bacon didn’t give up much fat. When hot, place a tablespoon of the fritter mixture in the pan; you should be able to fry four at a time. If you want to keep neat edges, use an egg ring or crumpet ring. After 4 minutes, check they are golden brown on the bottom and turn over. Fry for another 3 or 4 minutes; remove and keep warm. Add some more oil and repeat with the rest of the mixture.
- For the halloumi: Brush a griddle pan with coconut oil and heat on a medium heat. Place slices of halloumi on the griddle pan and allow to turn golden brown before flipping over, about 2 minutes.
- Serve 2 fritters per person, smearing each fritter thickly with the coulis and topping with halloumi slices and a spoonful of avocado mash.
In summer use fresh tomatoes instead of the tin of tomatoes. Peel 350g ripe red tomatoes (about 6) by cutting a small cross in the bottom of each tomato and covering with boiling water. The skins will slip off easily after a couple minutes. Finely chop the tomatoes and proceed with the recipe.