Pascale’s Kitchen: Reduce food waste with fritters

In North African cuisine, they prepare bread balls called ouja, which are fritters made from basic ingredients. They were initially created by frying the leftovers from Shabbat.

 Sourdough bread with pistachios (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Sourdough bread with pistachios
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Though we said goodbye to Hanukkah at the beginning of the week, my children’s request to make Grandma Esther’s ouja led me back to the frying pan. This time, I made the fritters in a different way.

First a short explanation: In North African cuisine, they prepare bread balls called ouja, which are fritters made from basic ingredients. They were initially created by frying the leftovers from Shabbat.

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As we all know, food is not to be thrown away, so I added onions and chopped herbs and spices to these leftovers, mixed everything together and popped it into the fry pan to make fritters.

At the end of the frying, they find their way into hot buns fresh out of the oven or into slices of bread or challah, together with spreads, salads and a piece of fried schnitzel. Only then does this snack becomes a whole orchestra of flavors that cannot be beaten.

The ouja fritters can be found in different versions in Indian cuisine under the name baja, where chickpea flour is also used. In the Iraqi kitchen they are called aruk and include lots of herbs, potatoes and ground meat.

 Sourdough bread with pistachios (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Sourdough bread with pistachios (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

This time, when I decided to make ouja pancakes for my children, I used rice and cooked lentils instead of bread. I added herbs, chickpea flour and chopped curry leaves to them, then seasoned before frying. They disappeared so quickly to cries of  ooh and aah, that I almost lost my chance to photograph the remaining few before they disappeared altogether.

I have shared this recipe with you below.

The second recipe on offer this week is sourdough bread with pistachios. While looking for an easy technique for drawing on the loaf of bread, a lace napkin came to my aid, creating a beautiful pattern on the loaf, without the need for special tools. 

By spraying the bread with a little water, the napkin sticks well. Then sprinkle with flour, gently remove the napkin, and presto – a beautiful pattern is revealed. Homemade artisan bread!

We will finish with the recipe for banana cake, which, like the ouja fritters, was made because “it’s a shame to throw it away.” When bananas are not eaten in time, instead of throwing them away, try making this cake. A Shabbat treat without all the hard work.

 Ouja fritters (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Ouja fritters (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Ouja fritters

Makes 6-8 servings.

  • 3-4 Tbsp. rice, cooked (or bread or challah)
  • 2 Tbsp. green lentils, cooked (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. chickpea flour (or suitable substitute)
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 6 stalks of coriander, chopped
  • 3-4 stalks of mint, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 5 curry leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. spicy paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Place the cooked rice and lentils in a bowl (if using bread, soak it in water and squeeze well).

Add chickpea flour, parsley, coriander and mint to the bowl and mix.

Add the crushed garlic, curry leaves, eggs, cumin, spicy paprika, salt and black pepper. Beat to a uniform batter, not too soft and not too thick. (If the batter is too soft, add a little chickpea flour. If it is too thick, add 1-2 Tbsp. of water or an egg.)

Heat oil in a wide pan, take a spoonful of the mixture and place in the oil, leaving spaces between the fritters. Flatten the fritters slightly with the back of the spoon and fry on both sides until golden brown.

To make fritters a uniform size, use round molds. Pour a little of the batter into each mold and fry until set. Remove the mold and turn the pancake to fry and brown on the other side.

Serve with a slightly sour vegetable salad and herbs.

Difficulty level: EasyTime: About 30 minutesStatus: Parve

 Sourdough bread with pistachios (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Sourdough bread with pistachios (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Sourdough bread with pistachios

Makes one large loaf or two small ones.

  • 500 grams white flour, sifted
  • 200 grams rye flour
  • 150 grams rye sourdough starter or other starter
  • 1/2 cup oat bran or 1/4 cup flax, ground
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, roasted
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • White flour or fine corn flour for dusting
  • A crocheted lace napkin for design on bread

Place the flours and starter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix slowly with a kneading hook. Add the rest of the ingredients while mixing slowly, and pour the water in.

Mix for about three minutes and add the salt. Continue to mix for 8-10 minutes. Flour a wide bowl and leave the dough to rise. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour and a half.

Knead the dough well and remove the air pockets from it. Knead and fold the dough from the sides inward. Cover and let it rest for another hour.

Divide the dough into two balls and place on the table to rest for 20-30 minutes. Shape the balls of dough into the desired shape and place in a basket lined with a towel or cotton cloth sprinkled with flour or corn flour. Cover and put in the fridge to rest for 12 hours.

Place a pizza stone or cast-iron pot in the oven and heat the oven at high heat for about half an hour. In the meantime, turn the loaves of bread onto parchment paper. Remove the excess flour with a brush. Lightly spray water on the surface of the loaves and spread the napkin over them. Smooth it gently with your fingers. Sprinkle a generous amount of white flour or fine corn flour on the napkin. Gently remove the napkin to reveal the pattern.

Remove the iron pot from the oven after heating and place the shaped loaf in it. Cover the pot with parchment paper. Bake at high heat 480F (250C) for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes, to obtain a uniform golden hue.

Difficulty level: Medium-hardTime: About five hours, not including rising in the refrigeratorStatus: Parve

 Banana nut cake (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Banana nut cake (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Banana nut cake

Makes one 22cm rectangle baking pan or a 24cm diameter cake pan.

  • 150 grams butter (or margarine), sliced
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 packet of vanilla sugar
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cups nuts, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. raisins
  • 1/2 cup milk or sour cream (or almond or oat milk)

For decoration:

  • 1 cup sliced bananas or whole bananas, halved lengthwise
  • 2-3 Tbsp. demerara sugar

Mix the butter, sugar and eggs in an electric mixer until you get a fluffy mixture. Lower the speed of the mixer and gradually add the rest of the ingredients, until you get a uniform dough.

Transfer to a pan and decorate with banana slices or whole bananas cut lengthwise. Press them lightly into the dough and sprinkle the sugar on top.

Bake in an oven preheated to medium heat 350F (180C) for about 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and dry. Take out and let cool.

Difficulty level: EasyTime: About an hourStatus: Dairy (or parve)

Translated by Tzvi Joffre.