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October 12, 2010

Recipe: Sweetcorn chilli bites with a mint yoghurt dip

Sweetcorn chilli bites with a mint yoghurt dip

Sweetcorn chilli bites with a mint yoghurt dip

Jane-Anne Hobbs is a freelance journalist, editor and author; a cook, food writer and recipe developer; and a mother of three. She lived in Johannesburg for the past 17 years but recently moved, with her family, to Hout Bay.

See also:

Recipe: Extra-lemony Cape Malay-style pickled fish
National Braai Day recipe: Cape Malay-style lamb sosaties

Spiced with fresh green chilli and served with a cool mint dip, these deep-fried fritters, similar to Cape Malay chilli bites or “daltjies”, contain chickpea flour and kernels cut straight from fresh ears of sweetcorn.

These are delicious served piping hot, and they’re not bad cold, either. You can add any combination of spices to this basic mixture, as well as other chopped vegetables such as spinach and cauliflower. If you can’t find fresh sweetcorn, use tinned kernels that have been very well drained, but these really are best with fresh, poppy, sweet kernels. Chickpea (gram or channa) flour is available in spice shops and at health stores. If you can’t find it, use ordinary flour.

Please don’t be put off by the fact that these are deep-fried. You’re not going to eat them every day, right? I find it easiest to deep-fry food in a small, deep saucepan over a gas flame. You can use a pan over an electric plate, or a domestic deep-fat fryer, but a naked flame is better because it allows you to regulate the heat with ease. For perfect results, I recommend using a thermometer – I use a jam-making or candy thermometer – to keep the oil at a constant temperature of between 160°C and 170°C. If you don’t have such a gadget, have a look at these tips for checking whether the oil is hot enough.

Sweetcorn chilli bites with a mint yoghurt dip

4 ears fresh sweetcorn
2 green chillies, or more to taste, very finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1½ cups (375ml) chickpea (gram or channa) flour
½ cup (125ml) plain flour
1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
1½ teaspoons (7.5ml) mild curry powder
1½ teaspoons (7.5ml) cumin
1 teaspoon (5ml) turmeric
1 cup (250ml) thick white yoghurt
a little water
milled black pepper
750ml sunflower or canola oil, for frying
lemon wedges

For the dip:

1 cup (250ml) thick white yoghurt
the juice of half a lemon
60ml, loosely packed, chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
40ml, loosely packed, chopped fresh mint
salt and milled black pepper

Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cobs. To do this, hold the cob vertically, and slice downwards, cutting close to the fibrous core. Place in a large bowl and add the chillies and spring onions. Sift the channa flour, plain flour, salt and spices over the vegetables. Now add the yoghurt, mix well, and add just enough water to make a thick batter. Season with pepper and a little more salt, if necessary – this batter needs more salt than you would think. Set aside for half an hour.

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan. When the oil is hot enough, drop in large spoonfuls (30 to 45ml) of batter. It’s easiest to do this using two spoons. Fry until golden brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on plenty of kitchen paper. If you find the fritters relentlessly sticking to the bottom of the pan, your batter is too thin: Add a little more ordinary flour.

To make the dip, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Serve piping hot with lemon wedges and the dip.

Makes about 30 chilli bites.

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