I remember the first time I had beer- battered parsnips. It was a chilly winter's day down on the farm. They were hot in my cold fingers, aromatically spiced with curry and black onion seeds and salty with... salt! Oh, and they were very crunchy. It was sort of a revelation, to be honest.
The parsnip I thought I knew so well had surprised me once again.
6 PARSNIPS, PEELED
100G (3 ½ OZ) PLAIN FLOUR
100G (3 ½ OZ) CORNFLOUR
1TBSP CURRY POWDER
PINCH OF Chili FLAKES
1TSP FINE SEA SALT, PLUS EXTRA TO SEASON
1TSP BLACK ONION SEEDS
ABOUT 250ML (9FL OZ) GOOD BEER OR ALE
1TSP BAKING POWDER
SUNFLOWER OIL, FOR DEEP FRYING
FLAKY SEA SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
Quarter the parsnips, and if they are big cut each quarter in half again. Bring a large pan of boiling water to the boil and add the parsnip pieces. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until they are just tender, then drain and allow them to steam off.
Combine the flours in a mixing bowl. Add the curry powder, Chili flakes, salt and black onion seeds and stir to combine. Scatter 2 tablespoons of this spicy, floury mixture over the parsnips and tumble them to coat relatively evenly. Season the parsnips with a little more salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Pour the beer into the remaining flour mixture and add the baking powder, then whisk until you have a smooth, thick batter.
Pour the sunflower oil into a deep, heavy-based pan to a depth of 5-6cm (2- 2 ½ in) and place over a medium- high heat. It’s hot enough when a cube of bread turns golden in 40-50 seconds. One by one, dip the parsnips into the batter, allowing the excess batter to drip back into the bowl as you lift them out. Carefully drop each parsnip into the hot oil. Fry the parsnips in batches of 3 or 4, for 2-3 minutes, or until the batter is crisp and golden.
Transfer each batch to a plate lined with kitchen paper while you fry the remainder.
Transfer the parsnips to a bowl, sprinkle with flaky salt and serve. These are perfect with my cucumber raita for dipping.