It’s Chanukah, which for many years has been for me not so much about presents as the opportunity to FRY THINGS. It’s a religious obligation to submerge foods in hot oil, thereby making them even more delicious. This is a religious practice I can get behind!

Both toil and trouble.

I scoured my bookmarked recipes looking for new delicious things to fry. (In addition to all the old delicious things to fry.)  I looked at polenta fries, leek fritters, tempura green beans, eggplant fries, and innumerable variations on doughnuts. So many choices! But as much as I delight in frying things, I was having a bit of a dilemma this Chanukah: I wasn’t planning on having any kind of party or other occasion where people would help me eat the food that I fried, so either (a) I would eat all of the fried food immediately and make myself ill, or (b) some of it would go to waste. I moped.

Finally I hit on possibility (c)—make fried food that would reheat well and have enough nutrition content to qualify as a part of a Reasonable Lunch. Those two conditions eliminated everything except Smitten Kitchen‘s Indian-spiced vegetable latkes, which, in addition to reheating well and being chock full of vegetables, turned out to be absolutely superb. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for years, and now, having finally experienced the results, I’m horrified that it took me so long.

I ate these delicious things with some shrimp that I’d quickly sauteed with Patak’s Madras curry paste, which I also highly recommend.

Indian-spiced vegetable fritters
From Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup frozen peas
1 medium onion, peeled
1 large russet or Idaho potato, peeled
1 yam or sweet potato, peeled
1 large or 2 thin carrots, peeled
1 zucchini
4 large eggs [I found this to be way too much egg—next time I’ll start with two, see how it holds together, then maybe add a third]
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
A pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Curry-lime yogurt
2 cups plain yogurt
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon sugar
A squeeze or two of fresh lime juice, to taste
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200°F. Place two nonstick baking sheets in oven.

In small saucepan, bring salted water to boil. Add peas and cook, uncovered, until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, then rinse in colander under cool, running water. Set aside in colander to drain completely. [Or defrost in microwave]

Using box grater or food processor fitted with grating disc, coarsely grate onion, potatoes, carrot and zucchini and place in colander set in sink, setting aside to drain.

In large mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisk in flour, coriander, turmeric, and cumin. Mix in ginger, cilantro, and peas.

Press potatoes and onion to extract as much liquid as possible, then add to bowl. Season mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using wooden spoon or hands, mix well, but do not overwork.

In heavy-bottomed, 12-inch non-stick skillet over moderately high heat, heat 1-2 tablespoons oil  until hot but not smoking. [I used a fair amount more than this, in religious celebration.] Drop 4 scant 1/4-cup portions of potato mixture into pan and flatten with spatula to form four 3-inch pancakes.

Fry until bottoms are golden-brown (the color really counts on this; the darker you let it go, the more the pancake holds together – this goes for both sides.), 4 to 5 minutes, then turn over and fry until golden-brown and crisp, an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season immediately with salt and pepper. Keep warm on baking sheets in oven while making remaining pancakes.

Using paper towels, carefully wipe out pan. And 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and fry 4 more pancakes. Repeat with remaining batter, wiping out pan and adding 1 to 2 tablespoons oil before each batch.

Serve pancakes hot with curry-lime yogurt.

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