I was sat gazing out of the window the other day, contemplating the nature of almond flour, as you do, when the thought suddenly struck me – “I bet almond flour would make a perfect drop-in replacement for chickpea flour”. Chalk one up for the meditative properties of Oolong tea.
Chickpea flour, also known as gram flour, or besan, plays an important role in Indian cuisine, and is perhaps best known as the principal ingredient in the batters used to prepare such delicacies as bhajjis, or pakoras.
Since I started to eat Paleo I have avoided chickpeas, legumes that they are, and they have also been off-limits for LCHF-er Mrs. Paleovirtus, with their high carb content.
Almond flour, it occurred to me, was similar to chickpea flour in so many ways – colour, texture, the general “feel” of it, that hopefully it would also have broadly similar physical characteristics, and would behave itself accordingly if I tried to make a batter with it.
I had just the recipe to test that theory with – Indian Fish Fritters. This is a family “classic” that I have been making since the 90s. This gives me the advantage of adapting a well known procedure, rather than merely flying blind into unknown territory, so to speak.
Pre-recipe advice – the real key to success here is the consistency of the batter. Even if you get the batter spot on, these fritters can be a tad fragile, and will need care, attention, and a deft touch to avoid them breaking up when flipping them or taking them from the pan. Be cool when wielding those spatulas, mon ami.
The problem is, of course, there are so many variables in play when you consider the consistency of individual batches of almond flour, the relative size of eggs, and so on. This really is one of those dishes that you only get a true feel for after you’ve made it a few times, but Lordy, is it worth it!
If in doubt, err on the side of too thick a batter, rather than too thin. As I say below, the batter should be thick, smooth, and pourable. If, once you’ve mixed the fish and batter together, you’re having trouble with the fritters holding together due to too thin a batter, consider adding more almond flour to the mix, or even some more beaten egg.
Indian Fish Fritters
- 420g cod steak fillets, cut into bite sized pieces – see Notes
- 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Jalapeno chilli, de-seeded and very finely chopped
- 3 tbsp of finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 320ml almond flour
- 1 egg beaten
- 10 tbsp water
- coconut oil
- Heat 3 tbsp of coconut oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped chilli, and fry for 1 minute.
- Add the chopped onion, and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the garlic, turmeric, and ground coriander. Fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the cod. Stir well to coat with the contents of the pan, and continue to fry until the cod is just cooked through, and starts to flake apart.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Flake the cod thoroughly, so that it is reduced to very small pieces, almost with a consistency similar to minced meat. Stir in the chopped fresh coriander (cilantro). Set aside.
- Make the batter. Sift the almond flour into a mixing bowl. Add ½ tsp of salt, the beaten egg, and the water. Mix until you have a smooth, thick, but still pourable batter. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
- Add the fish to the batter, and mix well. Heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil over medium heat in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the fish and batter mixture to the hot pan in 1/4 cup amounts. Quickly form them into round, fritter shapes with a pair of spatulas, flattening them down as you do so.
- Fry on the first side for 2½ minutes. Carefully flip the fritters, re-forming them if they break slightly. Fry for a further 2½ minutes, by which time the fritters should be fairly robust and golden brown on both sides. Transfer the first batch to an oven proof dish to keep warm, whilst you fry the remainder of the fish and batter mixture.
- Serve the fritters with lemon wedges, and a simple salad dressed with lemon juice and chaat masala.
I call them “cod steak fillets” because I’m no longer sure what they’re called in English! In French they’re “Coeur de Cabillaud” – “Heart of Cod”, and in Swedish “Torskrygg” – “Cod Back”. Whatever you call them, they’re the premium, thick, usually quite expensive but normally bone-free fillet.