Saturday, October 14, 2006

One Pumpkin, Many Fritters

Pumpkins and beets. Before I lived in Australia, I thought that pumpkins were solely used for carving jack-o’-lanterns and making pumpkin pie, and that beets came out of a can for a speedy, but not-so-eagerly-anticipated side dish. Oh, how Australia changed these perceptions. Pumpkin became a welcome member of a roasted vegetable foccacia sandwich, a sweet substitute for spinach in a feta-filled filo triangle, and, when cubed and roasted, a colorful complement to couscous. Meanwhile, beets became beetroot, and a lunchtime staple sliced and served on a veggie burger. Who would have thunk?

I am happy to report that pumpkin also has a life beyond carving and pie here in southern Africa. For example, one traditional South African dish is pumpkin fritters. Spiced with cinnamon and served with cinnamon sugar, these fritters taste like mini-pumpkin pies without the crust and can be served as either a dessert or a side dish.

Since Australia greatly expanded my pumpkin repertoire, I thought I would try matching the pumpkin with some other ingredients – chutney, chili, lemon juice and cilantro for a sweet and spicy Asian-style fritter and fresh herbs and roasted garlic for a savory version. I have to say, the Asian-style fritters were my favorite. Luckily, my husband liked the sweet ones best (surprise, surprise), so we each gobbled up our respective portions. And speaking of gobbling, with Thanksgiving right around the corner in the U.S., these fritters – in any variation you choose – would make a unique alternative to the traditional sweet potatoes with marshmallows. You will never look at pumpkins the same way again.

Pumpkin Fritters
dapted from Recipe Zaar
Makes about 24 little fritters

2 cups cooked pumpkin
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Extra flour, if needed
Vegetable oil, for frying

Option 1 – Sweet (traditional version):
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Cinnamon sugar, for dusting

Option 2 – Sweet and spicy:
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons minced cilantro (a.k.a. fresh coriander)
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon mango chutney
1 green chili, minced

Option 3 – Savory:
2 teaspoons roasted garlic paste
Handful chopped fresh herbs of your choosing (I used basil, oregano and marjoram)
Pinch of salt

Using a food processor, blend together the pumpkin, flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Add the eggs and blend until the mixture forms a thick batter that is firm enough to hold its shape when scooped up with a spoon. If the batter is too soft, add some additional flour.

At this point, you can follow one of the options above, or divide your batter into twos or threes and make several different types of fritters. Just mix in the ingredients listed under the option of your choice, reducing the quantities as appropriate if you are dividing up your batter.

Heat the oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Then, drop heaped tablespoons of the batter into the pan, leaving a bit of space between each fritter. Fry the fritters in batches until they are firm and golden on their undersides. Carefully flip over and fry on other side. The fritters are done if you can press them and they spring back, and no batter squishes out from the sides.

Serve fresh from the fry pan, or as Donna via JenJen suggests, cover the fritters that are ready with a clean tea towel as you prepare the subsequent batches. Or, if are cooking other items to accompany the fritters, keep the fritters warm in a 100°C (210°F) oven. If you made option 1, dust your fritters with some cinnamon-sugar. Garnish the other options as you please!

I roasted the pumpkin I used in this recipe, but you could also boil it. If you do boil the pumpkin, ensure it is very dry before you begin making the batter. Note, too, that the possibilities of how to modify your pumpkin fritters are pretty endless. You could add some currants to the sweet fritter, for example, or maybe make a savory one with zucchini (shredded, salted and well-drained) and crumbled feta. Depending on your additions, you may need to blend in extra flour to thicken the batter, or milk to thin it.

This post is an entry in Hay Hay it’s Donna Day #6- F is for Fritter, a food blog event excellently hosted by JenJen of Milk and Cookies.


Brilynn said...

These look great! I also discovered "beetroot" as an everyday edible while in Australia.

Anonymous said...

Glad you could join in, I love pumpkin and what better way to eat them than in a fritter. I'm glad Australia taught you to love pumpkins!

Erin S. said...

These look yummy. I'm very excited to find your blog--I studied abroad in Zimbabwe during college and have many sadza memories.

kathryn said...

I moved to Australia from the UK. I'd never had pumpkin before arriving here, in the UK they're considered pig's food (well they were 18 years ago anyway). At first I didn't get it - far too many insipid pumpkin soups. THEN I had roasted pumpkin and it all changed. Your fritters look gorgeous and I like the way they can be used as both sweet and savoury. I shall be trying these at home - always looking for new ways to use, what is now one of my favourite vegetables.

Barbara said...

I do like the sound of this combination. Makes a change from the good old Aussie roast pumpkin. Thanks for participating in Donna Day

ilingc said...

I always make roast pumpkin mash but never thought about making them into sweet or savoury fritters. You've just changed my perception of pumpkins too! :)

Jeanne said...

OMG, some of my favourite things in all the world - pumpkin fritters!! These look particularly good - with the abundance of gourds around right now I will *have* to try them!

Carolyn said...

Hi all,

Glad to hear others have also had their eyes opened to new ways of using veggies in Australia! I'll try to uncover some other ways that pumpkin is used in Africa so that I can share them with you.

I enjoyed reading all of your Donna Day posts!


Nandita said...

Lovely recipe, can i cook them like pancakes instead of deepfrying? I just love this recipe, cant wait to make it...did u make the savoury version? How does the savoury spices go with the sweetness of the pumpkin? Hope u reply soon, I just bought a large pumpkin slice.

Carolyn said...

Hi Nandita,

I checked out some pumpkin pancake recipes (,, and and the main difference between these recipes and the fitter one is that they use less pumpkin and more flour, and add some milk. So, I would try these adaptations to make pumpkin pancakes. I liked how the savory spices complemented the sweetness of the pumpkin - the garlic seemed to be the key to rounding out the flavor.

Hope my reply isn't too late, and good luck!

Sarah Q said...

Really tasty. Thanks for the help using up a spare pumpkin. I used the savory recipe with chives and it was very good.

Sarah said...

I just made the sweet version of these, and they were fantastic. One major modification - I used sweet potato instead (christmas dinner leftovers!). I've always found pumpkin and sweet potato substitute well for each other. I also basically shallow fried them like pancakes (with no other recipe modification) and it worked great.

I'm looking forward to trying the savoury version!