Palestinian Cauliflower Fritters
By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer
With a wide variety of vegetable “nuggets” proliferating in supermarkets, I can’t help but think of the old school, traditional cauliflower fritters of my childhood. These fritters are the Palestinian version of vegetable nuggets, made by hand lovingly by my great Auntie Bahia. The Arabic term for these fritters is “Em Shaat.” While this makes for an awkward and comical translation in English, the phonetic pronunciation for these fritters is “imm shot.”
These fritters are the ulitmate example of Palestinian resourcefulness, where easy to find and economical vegetables are turned into hearty, almost meaty sponges of flavor. My auntie Bahieh was a resourceful cook, and her tiny and frail hands were always dusted with flour as she churned homemade pita bread to go with these fritters. Each bite of Em Shaat was infused with fragrant herbs and aromatics, like parsley and shallots. I loved to dip these nuggets into cucumber yogurt sauce, or tuck them into her warm homemade pita bread out of the oven with creamy hummus for a vegetarian meal.
While these fritters have been traditionally made with cauliflower, you can use a variety of substitutions for this recipe, from broccoli and mushrooms to grated zucchini or carrots. To make these fritters even more satisfying, and save the step of adding rising agents like baking powder, I use protein enriched buttermilk pancake mix instead of regular flour. The extra protein in the mix makes these fritters extra filling,and the buttermilk ensures a lighter bite and fluffy texture.
You can make these fritters your own by using other herbs like basil, cilantro, or even dill instead of the parsley. If you are a cheese fan, try adding shredded cheddar, parmesan, or gouda to the batter. Other compatible dipping sauces include baba ghanoush or even salsa for a fusion twist.
To see the video technique on how to make these fritters, click on the link below:
Cauliflower Fritters “Em Shaat”
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1 handful of parsley, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
- ¼ tsp lemon pepper (or pepper to taste)
- ¾ cup pancake mix, or ¾ cup flour plus 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp milk (or plant milk)
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
Separate the cauliflower into chunky florets. Boil a pot of water, and add the cauliflower to boil until tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Once the cauliflower is done, drain and put in a large bowl. While the cauliflower is boiling, chop the scallions, shallot, garlic, and parsley until fine. In a lare bowl, whisk the eggs. Add to the eggs the garlic,chopped parsley,cumin, salt, and lemon pepper. Add the pancake mix and milk, stir until combined. Finally add the cauliflower and mix until incorporated. The batter should be chunky, but not too stiff. If the batter is too stiff add a bit more milk. Meanwhile, heat the avocado oil in a skillet. Drop 2 tbsp of batter each into the skillet, and pan fry about 4 at a time. Flip the fritters over once golden brown, and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. You can make larger fritters if you wish.
Blanche Shaheen is the author of the cookbook called “Feast In the Middle East, a Journey of Family and Cuisine” which you can order here: https://secure.mybookorders.com/mbo_index.php?isbn=9781545675113 She is also a journalist, and host of the popular cooking show called Feast in the Middle East. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond. You can check out her cooking video tutorials at https://www.youtube.com/user/blanchetv Her recipes can also be found at: https://feastinthemiddleeast.wordpress.com/