I first had deep-fried battered courgettes on holiday in Greece last year and was completely enamored. Summer courgettes can be incredibly sweet and flavoursome, especially in the Mediterranean. The batter was light and perfectly crisp, and they were always served straight out of the deep-fryer. I think we ordered them with every meal we ate.
My version is made with gram flour (otherwise known as chickpea flour or besan). The resulting batter is a little heavier than with wheat flour, but is still crisp and has more flavour. Furthermore, it’s grain-free and gluten-free for those who are that way inclined, and I want to do my bit to promote Indo-Grecian fusion cuisine which I feel has been severely neglected by the culinary establishment.
These little bites are delicious by themselves, but with this zingy, herby dip you have a really impressive appetizer, side dish, or snack (because who wouldn’t want to get the deep-fryer out for an accompaniment to their afternoon cup of tea?). You can use any non-dairy yogurt, then chop together some fresh mint, dill and capers, and stir into the yogurt with a little lemon zest and juice, a drop of maple syrup and some seasoning.
For the courgettes, slice them nice and thin, then sprinkle with salt and place in a colander or sieve for half an hour or so. This helps release some of the moisture so your batter won’t go soggy. Pat dry with some kitchen paper, spread out in a single layer on a plate or dish and sieve over half the gram flour and a little pepper. Turn the courgettes and repeat with the rest of the flour and another grind of pepper. Mix gently with your hands so everything is roughly coated, then deep fry in small batches.
If you are unfamiliar with deep-frying, this is a great way to start; you don’t need to worry about anything being raw in the middle, and the temperature of the oil doesn’t need to be too precise. You’ll want about 4–5cm of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium-high heat. A good way to test if the oil is hot enough is to drop in a cube of bread. If it bubbles enthusiastically and starts to turn a light golden brown then your oil is hot enough. If it only bubbles a little or not at all then the oil needs to be hotter, or if the bread turns a dark golden brown very quickly then it’s too hot and you’ll need to turn the temperature down. If you have a deep fat-fryer or a kitchen thermometer then heat the oil to around 180C.
Once your oil is at temperature, carefully add a few courgette rings to the pan – no more than can float in a single layer. Use a slotted spoon to turn them after a few seconds, and they should a lovely golden brown after 1–2 minutes. Scoop them out onto some kitchen paper or a clean kitchen cloth, and repeat with the rest. Eat immediately (but not so immediately that you burn your mouth).
If you give these a go I would love to hear how you get on! You can comment below or find me on Twitter and Instagram @greedybearbakes.
Crispy Fried Courgettes with Yogurt Dip
Crispy deep-fried courgettes in a gram flour batter, with a zingy vegan yogurt dip with mint, dill, capers and lemon
Vegan, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Nut-free, Soya-free
- 2–3 courgettes (250–300g in total)
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 6 tbsp gram flour (chickpea flour or besan)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 ltr (approx) oil for deep-frying
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill (plus extra for garnish)
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- 2 tbsp capers
- 125g non-dairy yogurt (I use Koko Dairy-free)
- ½ unwaxed lemon, zested and juiced
- ½ tsp maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Finely slice 2–3 courgettes into rounds (approx 2–3mm thick). Place in a colander and sprinkle over 1/2 tsp fine salt. Use your hands to mix the salt and courgettes, then leave for at least 30 minutes so the courgettes release some of their liquid.
- Meanwhile make the dip. Finely chop the fresh dill, so you have about 2 tbsp worth, and finely chop the mint so you have 3 tbsp worth. Roughly chop 2 tbsp capers with the dill and mint so everything is mixed, then add to a small bowl with 125g yogurt. Add ½ tsp lemon zest, 2 tsp lemon juice, ½ tsp maple syrup, a small pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper. Stir until everything is incorporated, then taste and add a little more salt, pepper, maple syrup or lemon juice to taste.
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, add 4–5 cm oil for deep frying. Heat over a medium-high heat, until the oil reaches 180C or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil bubbles enthusiastically.
- While the oil is heating, take your courgettes and pat them dry with some kitchen paper or a clean kitchen cloth. Spread on a large plate or dish in a single layer and sieve over 3 tbsp gram flour, and a grind or two of black pepper. Turn the courgette slices over and sieve another 3 tbsp flour and a little more black pepper. Gently mix with your hands so that everything is coated.
- Once the oil is at temperature, fry the courgettes in small batches (no more than can float in a single layer) for 1–2 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon onto some kitchen paper or a clean kitchen cloth and repeat with the remaining courgettes. Sprinkle over a little extra dill for garnish and serve immediately with the dip.