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My kale is starting to flower, so it was time to finish it off. This hot weather will bring cabbage moths and aphids around anyhow. It has been really hardy and trouble free, and has borne really well for months now. I’ve used it regularly at least a couple of times a week – such a lot of food from such a small area.  It works well in soups and stews,  pasta and noodle dishes, stuffed and baked and very lightly steamed.  And it’s given me a big dose of a huge range of vitamins and minerals and some important anti-cancer phytochemicals all winter.  I’m sad to see it go!

But the chooks will love the stalks and older leaves, and I’ve picked all the younger, nicer leaves for this  Tuesday Night Vego Challenge. On hot evenings like we have been having lately, a platter of finger food and a cold beer on the verandah is the perfect dinner.

The Recipe:

This recipe made plenty for two of us for dinner. It isn’t exactly diet food, but the kale doesn’t absorb as much oil as you might think, and with dipping sauce and accompaniments it’s not too high fat. We like the batter with a bit of spiciness, but you can reduce the ginger, turmeric and chili if you want a milder version.

Make the batter first so it gets 10 minutes or so to sit, then the dipping sauce so it gets a few minutes for the flavours to meld.  Then last of all, mix in the kale and fry the pakora.

The Batter

Use a whisk or a fork to mix together to a smooth batter like a pancake batter:

  • 1 cup besan (bean flour – from any wholefoods store)
  • two-thirds of a cup water
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • pinch of chili powder or dried chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon grated turmeric (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped coriander, stems and leaves, and if you have them roots as well
  • pinch salt

Let the batter sit, and go on to make the dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce

Use a food processor or blender to blend together

  • ¾ cup plain yoghurt
  • big handful of coriander leaves
  • big handful of mint leaves
  • pinch salt

Let the dipping sauce sit for the flavours to meld and go on to make the pakora.

Pakora

Heat up a pan with about half an inch (1.5 cm) of oil. You want it medium hot.  I use either avocado oil or light olive oil for frying like this, because they have fairly high smoke points.  Light olive oil is light flavoured, not light fat, and it’s light flavoured because it’s highly refined to remove the aromatics.  But it makes it better for frying because it means it heats to a much higher temperature without producing any unhealthy by-products.  Avocado oil has a very high smoke point, and it’s locally grown in my region, but it is a bit expensive.

Stir into the batter

  • 1½ cups (packed) of kale shredded into 3cm or so pieces.
  • 1 small onion finely diced

Stir so that all the kale is well coated in batter.

Drop dessertspoons full of batter coated kale into the hot oil.  Fry for around 3 minutes each side until they are crisp and golden.  Drain on brown paper.

I serve on a platter as finger food for sharing,  with the dipping sauce and some raw vegetables (cherry tomatoes, snow peas, celery) to dip too.

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This is one of those recipes where I go by the feel and the look, but I am going to try to write it down! In fact, once you have made it once and got the idea, it is infinitely versatile.

The basic concept is lots of finely shredded silverbeet leaves, with some finely diced onion and tiny cubes of feta cheese, squeezed together with just enough besan batter to hold it together, then fried till crisp and golden.

Although it is shallow fried, it’s not nearly as fattening as it sounds because the silver beet goes crispy without absorbing oil.  So you end up with nearly as much oil in the pan as you started with.

And the silver beet is so disguised that  the most greens-suspicious kids will gobble a whole bunch of silver beet cooked like this.

The Recipe:

  • Strip a big bunch of silver beet from the stems and finely shred the green leaf.
  • Mix with a finely diced onion, and 100 grams of feta cheese (low fat works fine) diced into tiny cubes (a centimetre or so).
  • Add a pinch of salt and lots of black pepper and toss together.
  • Add half a cup of flour – besan and/or plain.  You can use all plain wholemeal flour or half and half besan (bean flour) and plain flour.  The latter gives a heavier texture and a nuttier flavour, and if you grow beans it is easy to make your own.
  • Toss the silver beet mix in the flour to coat.  Then carefully add just enough water to moisten it all.  It will look like the mix above and not like a batter at all, but with wet hands you should be able to squeeze together small balls, a bit smaller than a golf ball.  If you make them too large they are gluggy in the middle.
  • Heat a centimetre or so of olive oil in a heavy pan.  The balls should sizzle as they go in.  Turn them to cook on all sides.  They will cook to deep golden in a few minutes.
  • Drain on brown paper.
  • They are best eaten hot straight away – fantastic as a TV snack or quick lunch or dinner – but they’re also ok cold as a party plate.  They are great served with chili jam or a sweet chili dipping sauce.
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