This is a favourite of mine from Ottolenghi’s vegetarian book ‘Plenty’. He speaks of how he came up with the recipe as a homage to his aunt and her heavenly leek fritters he grew up eating. In his recipe, he uses a compilation of different spices and so after trialling it a few times, I decided to cut out a few steps and head to one of our blends – given the origins of the dish and the sweet onion flavour of the leeks, our North African Chermoula fit the bill perfectly.
Ottolenghi serves his with a yoghurts dipping sauce made from plain yoghurt, garlic, lemon and coriander, but you can simply serve it with a squeeze of fresh lemon or a dollop of plain yoghurt. I also like to serve this alongside some sliced tomatoes and fresh mint leaves sprinkled with a little Sumac.
Spices used in this recipe
North African Chermula – Mild
North African Chermula is an aromatic blend of spices from North Africa, particularly used in Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian cuisines. This delicious blend can be used as a dry rub or can be mixed with lemon juice, yoghurt and olive oil to make a wet marinade or be used as a dip. Toasting the spices before adding to dishes can be a great way to release their natural oils thus creating a more intense and caramelised flavour. Chermula is a delicate and zesty blend of sweet paprika, pepper, cumin, coriander, parsley, garlic, turmeric, sea salt and cayenne pepper. North African spice mixes tend to be less about the heat content and more about creating a depth of flavour.$3.45
Cut the leeks into 2cm-thick slices; rinse and drain dry. Saute the leeks and shallots in a pan with half the oil on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until soft. Transfer to a large bowl and add the chilli, parsley, chermoula, sugar, and salt. Allow to cool down.
Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and fold it into the vegetables. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, whole egg, milk, and butter to form a batter. Gently mix it into the egg white and vegetable mixture.
Put 2 tbsps of the remaining oil in a large frying pan and place over medium heat. Spoon about half of the vegetable mixture into the pan to make four large fritters. Fry them for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden and crisp. Place onto a paper towel to drain and keep warm. Continue making the fritters until the batter is finished, adding more oil as needed. You should end up with about 8 large fritters or you can make 12-16 smaller ones.