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According to Chinese traditional calendar, Chinese New Year 2011 is year of the rabbit. The New Year celebrations reflect the belief of Chinese people on gods, spirits of ancestors, legendary beings and animal spirits. Part of the festivities include the traditional lion and dragon dance, held in the streets of Chinatown as well as in some of the bigger shopping malls like Phoenix Les Halles and Le Caudan, to ward off evil spirits. Large numbers of firecrackers are also set off at midnight for the same purpose.

The other important aspect of CNY is, of course, food. Families and friends come together for big feasts. The venue usually is at the home of the most senior member of the family. CNY dinner is a very sumptuous affair and traditionally includes foods that are consumed to bring in wealth and good fortune. Noodles, chicken and fish [eaten whole], dumplings, spring rolls and mandarin oranges are typically among those that feature on the menu.

The celebration is never complete without gato lacire/nian gao, a steamed cake made from glutinous rice and brown sugar. Other sweets like gato zinzli and gato crabe are among those to be distrubed to relatives and friends. Read more about CNY food traditions on my friend Cindy’s blog where you can also find a variety of Mauritian, Indian and Chinese dishes.

Last year I celebrated CNY with Chinese Smiling Cupcakes and for 2011, I made a batch of gato zinzli along with some crisp sipek/prawn crackers. The recipe for these yummy Glutinous Rice & Sweet Potato Balls is from Ti Pomme D’amour – a food blog co-hosted by Manju, Kit, Carine, Angele and Jaimie. Thank you girls!

GATO ZINZLI

 

Ingredients:

500 g glutinous rice flour

500 g sweet potatoes

3-4 tbs raw brown sugar

1/2 cup sesame seeds

Method:

  • Boil the sweet potatoes in a large pan of water with their skin on. Cool slightly in pan before you peel them.
  • Mash sweet potatoes until you have a thick gooey mess.

 

  • Add sugar and enough glutinous flour to make a dough.
  • Pinch off dough to form small walnut-size balls.
  • Roll the balls in sesame seed so that they are evenly coated.

 

  • Heat oil in a wok until  and deep fry until golden in colour.
  • Drain well on absorbent paper before serving. Makes 20.
  • Store in an airtight container but best eaten on same day.

 

Wishing all my readers luck and prosperity for the coming year!

Do you find it hard to get up early? Are you one of those with a ‘sleep late – get up  late’ routine? Well I’d encourage you to set your alarm a lil bit earlier. Waking up at sunrise keeps you healthy and happy, plus it gives you time to make breakfast.

It saddens me to see that the average Mauritian does not really give much thought to this most important morning meal. It’s ok if you skip lunch or dinner but make it a must to sit down and have smthing before you start your day.

It is also interesting to note that the Mauritian breakfast does not offer much variety. It’s either baguette or petit pain rond from the nearest bakery [smeared with butter, jam or PB] or a bowl of soggy cereals with not much taste. There are so many breakfast options but for the busy working mother these are easier to ignore.

Sunday mornings are therefore the best time to try out new breakfast ideas. My sundays as a kid often started with mum’s fresh  banana pancakes along with a steaming mug of Milo. I now get up early and make them myself. They are usually ready by the time newspapers – Weekend, L’express Dimanche and 5Plus – are brought in.

BANANA PANCAKES

  

Ingredients:

1 large or 2 medium sized ripe bananas

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

3 tbs caster sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp vegetable oil

1 tsp toasted coconut

 

Method:

  • Peel banana and mash well with fingers in a small bowl.
  • Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.
  • Stir sugar and coconut into flour mixture.
  • Lightly whisk oil, milk and vanilla together in a jug. 
  • Make a well in flour and pour milk-oil mixture into it.
  • Fold in with a metal spoon until no lumps are seen.
  • Add mashed banana and combine well.
  • Batter will be quite runny. Cover and set aside for 15 min.

 

  • Heat tawa [heavy iron cast griddle] and grease with oil.
  • You may also use a frying pan or crepe pan for this.
  • Using a katori [metal bowl], pour 1/4 cup of batter onto hot tawa. Use the katori to spread batter into a larger circle.
  • Cook for about a minute until bubbles appear on the surface and the edges begin to change colour.

 

  • Flip over and cook for another 30-60 seconds.
  • Grease the tawa after every alternate pancake.
  • Serve warm rolled up with a dab of butter or fruit compote or any filling of your choice. Makes 8 -10 pancakes.

Mum always gets a large bunch of ripe bananas and a smaller bunch for green ones from the local market on saturdays.  It’s usually up to me to find a recipe to use them up before they turn bad. Fritters are a good way of turning large amounts of overripe bananas into snacks for afternoon tea. I find them a tad greasy but I know many who love them 🙂

BANANA FRITTERS

  

Ingredients:
 
5 large ripe bananas
 
3/4 cup flour
2 tbs water
 
1/4 tsp baking powder
 
Oil for frying
 
 
Method:
  • Peel bananas and mash well in a large bowl.
  • Sift flour and baking powder over bananas and fold in.
  • Add enough water to get a slighlty thick batter of dropping consistency. Adjust water and flour proportions if needed.
  • In a deep heavy based pan or kadai, heat oil over medium heat. You may need upto 2 cups for frying.

  • Scoop batter with a tablespoon and carefully drop in hot oil.
  • It is best to fry them in batches of 10 and flip over till done.
  • Deep fry until fritters are evenly golden brown.
  • Drain well between sheets of absorbent paper.
  • Serve warm with a cup of tea. Makes about 15-20 fritters.

Fritters, though soft and spongy, are loaded with sugar and fat and not at all healthy.  A consommer avec modération!

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