If there’s one Yiddish word you need to learn, it’s “fress.” It means chowing down without restraint, and it’s the mantra of a new cookbook by British food writer Emma Spitzer. Dive into updated versions of beloved Jewish recipes from Poland and Russia and modern classics from around the Middle East and North Africa. This turmeric battered cauliflower will surprise and delight vegetarians and omnivores alike at any party.
Crispy and lightly spiced, this dish makes a lovely sharing plate for an appetizer, or a predinner nibble. You want the cauliflower florets to be bite-size, but not so small that they can’t take on the batter.
- 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
- vegetable or canola oil, for deep-frying
- Small pinch saffron threads
- 3 tablespoons hot water
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Pinch sea salt
For the batter
- 1 tablespoon nigella seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted with 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup chilled sparkling water
- 1 teaspoon table salt
For the garnish
- Handful pickled cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
For the cauliflower
Blanch the cauliflower in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain in a colander and refresh under cold running water to stop any further cooking.
For the yogurt, infuse the saffron in the measured hot water for 20 minutes, then strain out the saffron and discard. Mix the saffron water into the yogurt and add the remaining yogurt ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep-fat fryer or medium saucepan (ensure that the oil is a minimum of 2 inches deep, but don’t fill the pan more than halfway) and place over medium heat to heat up to about 340°F.
Meanwhile, beat all the ingredients for the batter together in a bowl until you have a thick consistency.
Test the temperature of the oil by dropping in a little of the batter — if it sizzles, the oil is ready. Dip the cauliflower florets in the batter to coat, shaking off the excess, and fry, in small batches, for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with the cilantro and pomegranate molasses, with the yogurt on the side for dipping.