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Monday, September 12, 2005

Butter-Fried Chickpea/Lentil-Battered Zucchini Flowers and Shiitake Mushrooms

Impromptu Gourmet Mushroom MedleyThis recipe is actually two-in-one. I use one batter for two main ingredients: zuchinni flowers and shiitake mushrooms...

Ever since Chef Mario Batali dipped some zucchini flowers into batter and deep-fried them on his show a few years ago, I've been desperate searching for these colorful blossoms. I had a theory that they'd work well in a batter that my great-grandmother used with mushrooms, and which she fed to me sitting on her knee - a heavenly fried mushroom snack that was high in protein, relatively healthy, and oh so delicious. As my maternal grandmother's eldest grandchild, she, too, hand-fed me these mushroom treats while I sat on her knee. She passed the recipe down to my mother, who doesn't make these nearly enough :)

I remember sitting on my grandmother's knee, not the taste of her fritter. But my mother's version is fresh in my mind: paradoxically crispy and juicy at the same time. A culinary contradiction, yet she manages to do it every time. I've tried for years to get my own meaty mushroom fritters to taste like my mother's, never quite succeeding. The closest I've come is my very popular "grandma's secret veggie burger". My mother won't yet give me her exact recipe, so I've been guessing on the measurements for years. While I've made tasty mushroom fritters, they've never come close to my mother's very popular version. Until a couple of Saturday nights past.

I recently found zuchinni blossoms at my local Farmers' Market, and bought two pints, along with some fresh shiitake mushrooms. My intent was to use my closest approximation to my mother's batter for both the mushrooms and blossoms. But I realized I that I was missing several ingredients, so I winged it. I pulled out my handy coffee/spice grinder and made my own missing spice mixes, or substituted where necessary. And the result was (almost) as wonderful as my mother's. They tasted great with a bit of onion chip dip and a cold glass of orange juice with grenadine, red wine, and a bit of water. (I use Sola Nero, which is unusual in that it combines Italian and Canadian reds.)

Okay, my version still isn't my mother's, but it is the closest I've come in over 15 years of trying. As with most of my variations, I didn't measure, but here's my best recollection of what I did. (If you hurry, you may still be able to get the zuchinni blossoms from your Farmers' Market.)

  • Canola or vegetable oil - enough to create a thin layer in a non-stick or cast-iron frying pan.
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1/8 cup whole black pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp cumin seed
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs or rippled potato chips
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flake [optional]
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • Fresh, whole shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, cleaned of grit or dirt.
  • Zuchinni blossoms.

  • Put cooking oil in a non-stick or cast-iron frying pan and set stove to med high. Add butter. While waiting, prepare the ingredients.
  • Grind the first 4 ingredients above in a coffee/ spice grinder. Pour into a mixing bowl.
  • Add the flour, salt, black pepper, red pepper flake, and Italian seasoning. Mix with a fork to distribute evenly.
  • Break the egg into the mixture and stir with the fork to mix.
  • Very slowly add the water to the mixture, while at the same time stirring with the fork. You want to have a paste, but it shouldn't be too runny. It should be thin in enough to easily coat the zuchinni blossoms without breaking them (they are very delicate). If you add to much water, add a bit more flour until you have the right consistency.
  • If oil is now hot, reduce stove to medium. You want to keep enough heat to not make the fritters oily, but not so hot as to burn the blossoms.
  • Holding the stem of a blossom, roll and dip the flower part in batter until it is lightly coated. Gently place it in the hot oil. Repeat for other blossoms.
  • Similarly, repeat for the shiitake caps.
  • Using metal tongs, turn all fritters several times as necessary so that all sides are cooked.
  • Do not fry the blossoms too long as they wilt and get soggy with oil fast. I fried them for about 3 minutes maximum. The mushrooms are heartier and should probably fry for about 5-7 minutes in total.
  • Remove fritters, with tongs or a slotted spoon, onto a plate lined with paper towels (kitchen paper) so that any excess oil is absorbed into the paper

Serve with some chip dip or sour cream. Keep in mind that chickpea batter is extremely high protein. Enjoy a few fritters as a snack not a meal.

Reader Note: The images in this post are affiliate links created using Zoundry Blog Writer software. As I do not live in the United States and thus do not qualify for their Zoundry Service, I do not earn any commissions if you purchase any of the items shown here. However, Zoundry will earn the commissions, which is fine by me, in support for their great blogging software, which is available free.

(c) Copyright 2005, Raj Kumar Dash,

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About me

  • I'm blogslinger
  • From Canada
  • Writer, author, former magazine editor and publisher, amateur photog, amateur composer, online writer/ blogger, online publisher, freelancer

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