Last Saturday we had friends over for dinner …city folk. I love saying city folk because I once used to be one, but not any longer. We live in the country now, with an abundance of gravel paths, hedgerows and the smell of cow dung in the air. Everywhere around us there is something growing, with grass at the top of the list. It is all very inspiring, not only for life in general but also for the kitchen. I have seen chickweed countless times in the city. Growing in disturbed soil where once a building stood or in neglected gardens. Never giving it a second glance because I was always en route somewhere, distracted by noise, pollution and getting to work on time.
With the garden and land that we have now, I have become curious about what’s growing around me and after seeing many, many episodes of River Cottage I am also wondering if any of it’s edible. So I bought the River Cottage Hedgerow handbook written by John Wright. With his typical dry English humour, he has taken me to a whole new culinary world of discovery and adventure! Anyway, to impress (and maybe even shock a little) our friends the city folk, I wanted to make something I had foraged all by myself. I chose to make chickweed pakoras, mainly because chickweed is easy to identify (probably a wise move if you want to stay friends) and because we have an abundance of it growing near the house. To be absolutely sure this recipe would be a success, I tried it out a few days in advance and it tasted great!
This is what you need:
- 100g gram (chickpea) flour
- 1 tbsp medium curry powder – or to taste
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp sea salt (or more)
- About 120ml water
- 50g Chickweed, washed, dried and roughly chopped
- 10 Crow Garlic bulbs – or 1 small onion
- 1 ordinary garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- Vegetable oil for shallow-frying
I didn’t have chickpea flour and used regular flour which was fine and I used onion instead of crow garlic since I haven’t found any crow garlic growing round here. I added a little bit more curry powder and threw in a fresh chilli pepper for extra heat.
Here is how you make it:
Mix the flour, curry powder, baking powder and salt together in a bowl, then slowly stir in enough water to form a paste the consistency of mustard. Mix in the Chickweed and Crow Garlic (or onion) and stir until they are well coated in the paste.
Heat a thin layer of oil in a heavy-based frying pan. When hot, spoon in heaped dessertspoonfuls of the pakora mixture to form little cakes, spacing them well apart.
Cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat for about five minutes until crisp and golden brown on one side. Turn the cakes over to brown the other side.
Drain on kitchen paper and serve at once.
I served the pakoras with a dollop of yoghurt mixed with mint, garlic and salt and pepper. Our friends were pleasantly surprised when I told them I just served them patties made out of weeds! They all loved them so much that I wished I’d made more…
Have you ever been foraging and if so what new and adventurous dish did you make?