I love the holiday season. The lights, the decorations, the music, especially that tangible feeling of excitement in the air (even if it’s just for a few days off work); lazy days with family and friends spent eating homemade croissants and mango mimosas, dark Norwegian goat cheese and fluffy kringla, St. Germaine cocktails and tender braised short-ribs (you enjoyed all those things too, right?). And now this leisurely slow week in between, where New Year’s Eve festivities are being planned and resolutions devised.
As if slivers of leftover chocolate tart and my grandma’s walnut fudge aren’t pleasure enough, I’ve been enjoying thumbing through At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan,Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, a gift from my brother. The book is perfect for anyone looking to get to know Indian home-cooking from one of the topics' most well-respected authorities.
Especially intriguing are her vegetable preparations. From Kashmiri-style collard greens and sweet and sour butternut squash, to Sri Lankan White Zucchini Curry to the dozen dal (bean, legume and lentil dishes). I haven’t had a chance to make any of the mouthwatering recipes from the book yet, but the other day I did make some lightly spiced, spaghetti squash fritters that I think Ms. Jaffrey would approve of.
Nothing more than cooked spaghetti squash (which does live up to its name, coming apart into yellow, al dente strands when cooked) bound together with egg and a little flour and seasoned with a bit of spicy curry paste, these fritters cook up crispy and craveable. I topped each fritter with a little dollop of scallion cilantro yogurt sauce for a spicy, crunchy, smooth, creamy, mouthful. It’s the type of bite that will transport you and your guests from this late-December rain to the patio of a warm Sri Lankan tea garden. Happy Holidays!
Spaghetti Squash Fritters with Scallion Cilantro Sauce
December’s Seasonal Seattleite feature is a varietal of winter squash, spaghetti squash. While there are many types of winter squash, from kabocha and butternut, to acorn and delicate, spaghetti squash has a fun, different texture; when cooked the flesh comes apart into spaghetti-like strands perfect for sautéing, saucing with ragout, stir-frying or making into light fritters. See note below for cooking instructions.
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer
For the scallion cilantro sauce:1 garlic clove
4 green onions, cut into large chunks
1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
½ cup plain yogurt (non-fat is fine)
pinch each sugar, salt, cayenne and cumin
For the squash fritters:300 grams (2 cups) cooked spaghetti squash
35 grams (¼ cup) all-purpose flour
50 grams (1 large) egg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon hot curry paste (optional)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil or nonstick spray for cooking
Additional cilantro and red bell pepper dice for garnish
Make the scallion cilantro sauce. In a food processor, pulse the garlic clove until finely chopped. Add the green onions and cilantro and pulse until finely chopped. Add the yogurt and seasonings and puree until smooth. Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Make the fritters. In a medium bowl, stir together the squash, flour, egg, salt, curry paste (if using) and black pepper. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat with a thin slick of oil or nonstick spray. Drop tablespoon sized dollops of the fritter batter onto the skillet and spread out lightly. Cook until thoroughly browned and crisp on the bottom, then flip over and cook until brown and crisp on the other side, adding more oil if necessary.
Put cooked fritters on paper towels to soak up any grease and season with salt if desired. Serve immediately with scallion cilantro sauce or keep fritters hot in a 200°F oven for up to 1 hour.
Note: To cook spaghetti squash, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into four pieces. You can microwave or bake spaghetti squash, but I find steaming the easiest. Place the squash chunks in a steamer basket over 2 inches of simmering water and steam for 12-15 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife. Scrape squash from the skin with the tines of a fork into long strands.