Growing up in an Indian family meant that ingredients like elachi (cardamom), saffron, tamarind, okra, kumquat, banana leaves, cinnamon bark and of course a range of heady spices were the norm. The kitchen cupboards were always full of what many people think is exotic but to me they were just the tools of the trade. While I am no stranger to real coconut, turmeric root and fresh curry leaves, Fennel is not one of the vegetables or flavours that I have had much experience with.
My first encounter with it was about a year ago. I’d heard delicious tales of liquorice and aniseed and it really is a beautiful bulb, so I bought it. The initially over-powering aroma made me cautious – what was I getting myself into?! Take into consideration that I am someone who cannot bare the thought of those dark liquorice laces and was sceptical about continued relations with said plant. But after some feverish Googling I decided to play it safe and make a potato and fennel bake to go with a piece of white fish. While the cream and potato softened that fennel-ness, I could still get hints of purple in my minds eye as I ate it. But it was good and I was hooked.
The last time I served these fennel and goats cheese fritters was for my dinner for 4 Valentine’s Day soiree. We got too many bottles of bubbly and ate like kings. It was perfect and these hit the spot with their punchy flavour and easy preparation.
2 bulbs of fennel sliced thinly, preferably with a mandolin
a few sprigs of fennel leaves, chopped
a log of goats milk chevin
salt and pepper to taste
1 cm of vegetable oil
lemon cheeks to serve
In a bowl, combine sliced fennel, fennel tips, cheese and seasonings and mix through. Shape a table spoon of the mixture into rough rounds and dip into the flour, then the egg and the flour once more. Arrange on a plate, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Heat oil until hot and fry the fritters until lightly golden. Drain on paper towel and serve with lemon wedges and a sprinkling of fennel tips to garnish.