Sunday 23 May 2010

Scrumptious Soccer Snacks: Sweetcorn Chilli-Bites with a Mint Yoghurt Dip

Sparked with fresh green chilli and served with a cool minty dip, these deep-fried spicy fritters contain kernels cut straight from fresh ears of sweetcorn.  Welcome to the sixth recipe in my series of delicious, easy football snacks with a South African flavour.

Scrumptious Soccer Snacks: Sweetcorn Chilli-Bites with a Mint Yoghurt Dip
Super-crunchy Chilli Bites with a Mint Yoghurt Dip

Cape-Malay chilli-bites or 'daltjies', made with chickpea flour, are a popular snack in South Africa, while corn is a staple food, eaten mostly in the form of pap or phutu, a traditional porridge made from ground maize.

These are delicious served piping hot, and they're not bad cold, either. You can add any combination of spices to this basic mixture, as well as other chopped vegetables: spinach, cauliflower, and so on.  If you can't find fresh sweetcorn, use tinned kernels that have been very well drained, but these really are best with fresh, poppy, sweet kernels. Chickpea (gram or channa) flour is available in Indian spice shops and in health stores. If you can't find it, use ordinary flour.

Please don't be put off by the fact that these are deep-fried.  (Look, I know deep-frying isn't healthy, but heck, how often is the World Cup played in South Africa?)  I find it easiest to deep-fry food (not that I'm the expert, but for what it's worth) in a small, deep saucepan over a gas flame. You can use a pan over an electric plate, or a domestic deep-fat fryer, but a naked flame is better because it allow you to regulate the heat with ease. For perfect results, I can recommend using a thermometer - I use a jam-making/candy thermometer - to keep the oil at a constant temperature of between 160°C and 170°C. If you don't have such a gadget, have a look at these tips for checking whether the oil is hot enough.

Sweetcorn Chilli-Bites with a Mint Yoghurt Dip

4 ears fresh sweetcorn
2 green chillies, very finely chopped, or more, to taste
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1½ cups (375 ml) chickpea [gram or channa] flour
½ cup (125 ml) plain flour
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1½ tsp (7.5 ml) mild curry powder
1½ tsp (7.5 ml) cumin
1 tsp (5 ml) turmeric
1 cup (250 ml) thick white yoghurt
a little water
milled black pepper
750 ml sunflower or canola oil, for frying
lemon wedges

For the dip:
1 cup (250 ml) thick white yoghurt
the juice of half a lemon
4 Tbsp (60 ml), loosely packed, chopped fresh coriander [cilantro]
3 Tbsp (45 ml), loosely packed, chopped fresh mint
salt and milled black pepper

Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cobs (hold the cob vertically, and slice downwards, cutting close to to the fibrous core).  Place in a large bowl and add the chillies and spring onions.  Sift the channa flour, plain flour, salt and spices over the vegetables. Now add the yoghurt, mix well, and add just enough water to make a thick batter. Season with pepper and a little more salt, if necessary (this batter needs more salt than you would think). Set aside for half an hour.

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan. When the oil is hot enough, drop in large spoonfuls (30-45 ml) of batter (it's easiest to do this using two spoons).  Fry until golden brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on plenty of kitchen paper. If you find the fritters relentlessly sticking to the bottom of the pan, your batter is too thin: add a little more flour.

To make the dip, combine all the ingredients in a bowl.

Serve piping-hot with lemon wedges and the dip.

Makes about 30.

Like this soccer snack? Try some of the other recipes from this series:

Mini Pita Breads with Spicy Meatballs and Hoummous
Mini Bunny Chow with Butter Chicken 
Cape-Malay-Style Curried Lamb Kebabs with Apricots
Potato, Cheese and Chilli Phyllo Triangles
Steak Kebabs with a Monkey-Gland Dipping Sauce

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Sam said...

Oh I am loving the look of these and all your other party snacks - YUM YUM YUM!

Nina Timm said...

Juno, these snacks of yours are all lethal!!! I love corn fritters, how did you know!!!

Jane-Anne said...

Thank you for the feedback, Sam and Nina. Nina, I didn't know you were a corn-fritter freak!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

These look addicting! Yum! Love your series!

Serene - said...

Oh, these look fabulous. My kid loves corn fritters. I will HAVE to make these.