Ottolenghi courgette and manouri fritters

Serves: 0
Course: Starter
Cooking Time: 0 hr 20 mins
  • Makes 12 fritters, to serve 4, or 24 smaller fritters, to serve 8 as a snack
  • 3 medium courgettes, trimmed and coarsely grated (580g)
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped (50g)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Finely grated zest of 2 limes
  • 60g self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 21/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 11/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 150g manouri (or halloumi or feta), roughly broken into 1-2cm chunks
  • About 150ml sunflower oil, for frying
  • Coarse sea salt and black pepper
  • Lime and cardamom soured cream:
  • 200ml soured cream
  • 5g coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

These were first developed for the NOPI breakfast menu by Sarit Packer and John Meechan, during the restaurant's early days. Rumour spread and, due to popular demand, they quickly made their way on to the lunchtime and supper menus as well, where they've remained ever since.

They make a lovely light lunch or impressive starter and are also great as a snack or canapé with drinks. If you are serving them as a snack, make them slightly smaller – 1 heaped teaspoon rather than the 1 heaped tablespoon needed for the larger portion.

These are shaped into quenelles in the restaurant. They look like little rugby balls - three-sided oval shapes - made by passing the mix between two dessertspoons, scraping the sides down as you go. They look great but the method, although very simple, is a little cheffy. We’ve therefore changed the shape to the easier round fritters here, for the home cook, but feel free to don the chef’s whites if you fancy it. All you need is two spoons and some hot water for dipping them in, so that the mixture does not stick. You’ll need to deep fry (rather than shallow fry) the quenelles so add enough oil to the pan so that it rises 5cm up the sides. Cook them for 3-4 minutes and then finish off in a 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7 oven for 5 minutes, so that the mixture is cooked through.

We use manouri cheese in our fritters at NOPI. It’s a Greek, semihard, creamy ewe’s milk cheese that’s fantastic for frying or grilling. It’s not easy to source, unfortunately, so use feta or halloumi instead.

METHOD: 1 Mix together all the ingredients for the soured cream sauce in a small bowl, along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a grind of black pepper. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.

Place the grated courgettes in a colander and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside for 10 minutes, then squeeze them to remove most of the liquid: you want the courgettes to keep a little bit of moisture, so don’t squeeze them completely dry. Transfer to a large bowl and add the shallots, garlic, lime zest, flour, eggs, ground coriander, cardamom and a grind of black pepper. Mix well to form a uniform batter, then fold in the manouri cheese gently so it doesn’t break up much.

Pour enough oil into a large frying pan so it rises 2-3mm up the sides and place on a medium heat. Once hot, add 4 separate heaped dessertspoons of mixture to the pan, spacing them well apart and flattening each fritter slightly with the flat side of a slotted spoon as they cook. Cook for 6 minutes (or according to the cooking instructions above, if your fritters are quenelles), turning once halfway through, until golden and crisp on both sides. Transfer to a kitchen paper-lined plate and keep somewhere warm while you continue with the remaining two batches. Place 3 fritters on each plate and serve at once, with the sauce alongside or in a bowl on the side.

Extracted from NOPI: The Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully (Ebury Press, £28). Photography by Jonathan Lovekin