Sunday, April 25, 2010

further deliberations by our fritter subcommittee

I wasn't going to write about ramps this year, despite the risk that keeping quiet about them might lead to trouble with the food blog police. (I'm sure I'm already on some sort of watch-list for being insufficiently bacon-crazed and for only ever baking breads that get kneaded, among other things). I wasn't going to mention them but then I remembered that around this time last year I made ramp bhajis, loved them, and never got around to posting about them before the season ended. It seems particularly appropriate to call your attention to the recipe now because fritters of all varieties have been on my mind lately.

Ramps seem relatively pricey this year, and I'm assuming it's because more and more people know what they are and wish to take some home and not because growing conditions were unfavorable. Last year they were $3/bundle at the Union Square greenmarket (and the same the year before, if my memory is correct); I haven't priced them there this year but this morning I noticed them at my local (the Tompkins Square Park greenmarket) for $6/bundle. Six dollars! Have any of you taken on seasonal work this year to support your ramp-munching habit? Or tried smoking them?

greenmarket ramps

Berried Treasures ramps

There's no blue light special; those are yesteryear's ramps above.

Obviously it's preferable to gather your own ramps for free. I spotted plenty of them growing in the woods last weekend in Connecticut, particularly very close to the stream we crossed on our hike. If you're planning to forage your own be sure to bring something spoon-like; their little bulbs can be difficult to dislodge even if you're willing to get your fingers dirty.


ramps growing in the woods

On to the recipe. It comes from the always-reliable (in my experience) Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and it's got chickpea flour in it (besan), which is reliably one of my favorite ingredients. The resulting fritters have plenty of exciting crisp wispy bits around the edges, and it's a nice change of pace to have ramps getting along with rather bold spices rather than dominating a dish. I'm not going to cut-and-paste the recipe because I didn't change anything about it apart from using ramps in place of the spring onions, so go have a look at it here. Ramps are more pungent than spring onions so you'll want them daintier than the "chunky slices" he calls for.

ramp bhajis

ramp bhajjis

Hugh F-W (even the Grauniad calls him that) gave a recipe for a radish goats' cheese raita to accompany his bhajis. It sounds great but I improvised one made with just yogurt, chopped cilantro, chopped mint, and a pinch of salt:

ingredients for raita

I don't have any measurements for the raita, sorry, but if you're confident enough in the kitchen to make ramp bhajis I'm sure you won't screw it up.

I've been thinking of them as bhajis, but the throat-clearing sounds coming from the direction of my fritter subcommittee remind me that you might look at them and see bhujia (or bhujiya) or pakoras. I've only been to northern India and these would be pakoras there. At the Bangladeshi-owned Indian restaurant near Tiny Banquet HQ they'd probably be bhujia (though they also have bhajees on the menu) and from what I understand they'd be bhujia in southern India. I don't want to make any enemies among the barons of the Big Bhujia industry so I'm open to calling these whatever seems most reasonable. We all agree they're fritters, correct?


  1. I just discovered your blog, fell in love with it and now I see you haven't blogged for 6 months...just my luck! :o(

    I'll have to read the back posts slowly and make them last.


  2. Hey hello maya, glad you like the blog! Be patient just a bit longer, I am in the midst of moving to a new apt. right now but will be back soon!

  3. Looks great! Makes me hungry just looking at it.

  4. I enjoyed some of these posts, thanks for writing. I will share them with my colleagues. Is it ok if we include some of your posts in our newsletter? We will link to your site, of course. :) I think our audience would enjoy these tidbits from time to time – they are all food and beverage industry professionals. You can email me at the address I provided.


    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Neilesh, are you a real person or is this spam? No, you cannot "include some of [my] posts" in your newsletter -- that sounds like copying, and even if copying is not what you have in mind, I would of course need to see your newsletter as well as an example of what you plan to do before consenting to such a thing. Also, please be aware that the terms of the Creative Commons license on my photos prohibits commercial use. You can learn more about that by clicking on the license info on any Flickr page for any of my photos.