An indulgent, crowd-pleasing spread – battered halloumi pakora, spicy roasted potatoes, tangy lemon-pickled onions and coriander peas. A glorious mix of British and Asian cuisines that makes fantastic vegetarian party food.
This is a recipe I created for my Dad for Fathers’ Day. This dish took inspiration from many places, including Terre a Terre in Brighton, U.K. which serves a version of this dish, Vanilla Black in London, U.K. where I first saw pickled mustard seeds and the millions of cooks all over the world who have been making and serving both South Asian food and battered items with potatoes since time immemorial!
My Dad’s favourite foods are fish and chips, Indian food and anything with chilli, so this meal is a homage to all the food he loves. These recipes are spicy as my Dad cannot really get enough chilli in his food, but feel free to decrease the amounts as you see fit.
This is a great recipe which you can adapt to suit many meals. The starch makes the potatoes crisp up beautifully in the oven with very little oil, giving you healthy, crispy delicious chips/fries without the deep-frying. You can also substitute sweet potatoes for an even healthier choice.
I always order paneer fritters when eating in Indian restaurants, however I really think halloumi is a much tastier substitute. Paneer doesn’t really have much taste and the texture seems fairly uniformly solid, whereas halloumi is salty, cheesy and pleasantly tender when hot. Swap the cheese for tofu or similar for a vegan version. Although I think the marinade is optional for the halloumi as it has so much taste itself, I wouldn’t recommend omitting it if using tofu as it really needs the extra flavour.
Battered halloumi and chips
Lemon-pickled red onions
- 2 red onions thinly sliced
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 red Thai chilli sliced on diagonal
- 1/2 tsp black pepper crushed
Spicy roasted potatoes
- 800 g potatoes
- 1 tbsp oil I used rapeseed
- 2 tbsp potato/corn starch
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp coriander seeds ground
- 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp oil or ghee
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds crushed
- 1 onion chopped fine
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 250 g fresh chickpeas shelled (see note above)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 hot green chillies chopped fine
- 1/2 lemon juiced, or to taste
- good handful fresh coriander roughly chopped
Battered halloumi/tofu pakora
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 tsp white peppercorns ground
- 2 tsp coriander seeds ground
- 400 g halloumi or tofu, cut in squares or strips, to taste
- 2 tbsp cornflour or potato starch
- 2 tbsp gram chickpea flour
- 2 tbsp rice flour
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp smoked hot Spanish paprika
- 4 dried chillies crumbled (I used serrano)
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- lots of freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- cold water as needed
- fresh lemon wedges
- red chilli sliced on diagonal
Toss the onions with the lemon juice, chilli and seasonings and leave to marinate for an hour or so. This should be eaten on the day it is made.
Preheat the oven to 200c. Slice the potatoes as you see fit, then toss with the oil, spices, seasonings and starches. Lay the potatoes, without touching, on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Tin foil tends to stick, so make sure you use baking paper and it is important that the potatoes do not touch otherwise they will not cook properly. Bake until browned and crispy.
Heat the oil until very hot, then add the cumin and coriander seeds - the cumin seeds should 'crack' when they hit the oil. Fry until fragrant, then add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion and garlic softens, then add the peas, salt, green chilli & a little water. Cover and steam for a couple of minutes, or until the peas are cooked through. Cook off any extra water, if necessary, then stir in the lemon juice (to taste) and the fresh coriander. Blend in a food processor to a rough purée (there should still be some texture) using a little extra water if necessary to loosen. Adjust seasoning. Keep warm while you finish the rest of the meal.
Mix the garlic, white pepper and coriander together to make a marinade. Pat the halloumi (or tofu) dry with paper towels and rub the marinade over as best you can. Leave for an hour or so (or as long as possible for tofu).
Whisk together the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl to make the batter - add as much water as you need to make the batter a little thicker than heavy cream.
Heat the oil in a heavy pan (I use cast iron) so the oil temperature stays up when you add the food. Dip in batter, drip of excess, then fry at 180c until crisp and lightly golden. I usually cook them in several batches to ensure the oil temperature doesn't drop too much.
Drain on paper towels and serve as quickly as possible. They are best when hottest (don't burn your mouth!), but the different flours used in the batter will ensure they stay crispy even after they cool down a bit.
Serve with fresh lemon wedges and a sprinkle of fresh red chilli.
To make this recipe vegan, swap the halloumi for tofu – I think it's closer to the taste of paneer anyway and the marinade will give it plenty of flavour.