An alternative take on some Christmas classics: Mincemeat pancakes and Brussels Sprout Pakoras

We went to the zoo on Christmas Day! It was fab - Mini-M was captivated by the penguins, we saw the new giant pandas, it stayed mainly dry, the penguins came out on parade, and despite it being rather gusty, we made it to the top of the hill without being blown away.

As a result we had a rather unconventional Christmas meal. We took a picnic, which included cold potato tortilla, smoked mackerel and tomato mayo toastwiches, sausages wrapped in bacon (of course) and mincemeat pancakes. Then when we got home in the evening, we had carrot, parsnip and orange soup with brussles sprout pakoras!

Definitely a deviation from turkey and gravy, but still delicious!

To make the sprout pakoras, I used this recipe from the Patterned Plate, with a few little tweaks.

Here's my version.

Just the right mix of spicy, crunchy and sprouty!
Brussels Sprout Pakoras (Makes 12-15 depending on size)

  • 125g brussels sprouts (this worked about at 12 smallish ones for me)
  • 1/2 a large onion
  • 125g gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 3 tbsp ground rice
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 300ml cold water
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1/2 a hot fresh red chili
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • a generous pinch of salt
  • 1litre sunflower oil (for frying - you can reuse it)

First prepare your sprouts - take off the outer leaves if necessary, and cut off the bottom stalk, then finely shred them.
Next finely chop your onion.
Deseed and chop your chili.
Finely chop your parsley.
In a large bowl, mix together the gram flour, ground rice, baking powder, cumin, ginger, turmeric and salt.
Add about 250ml of the water until you have a thick but pourable pancake batter consistency. You may need to add more water - just keep adding it until you reach this point.
Mix in your sprouts, onion, chili and parsley and stir until well combined and coated.
Pour the oil into a medium saucepan, so that it comes about halfway up the pan, and is about 3 inches deep.
Heat the oil until a small blob of batter will float but not immediately colour. It's a bit tricky getting it right - too cold and the pakoras will absorb too much oil - too hot and they will be cooked on the outside but raw in the middle.
Once your oil is hot enough, drop tablespoons of the mixture in - they will sizzle a bit as the moisture in the batter comes into contact with the hot oil. Depending on the size of your pan you may be able to cook up to 3 or 4 at a time. I managed 2. Don't be tempted to squash too many is, as they will a) stick together and b) cool the oil down so they won't cook properly.
Cook for a few minutes, until golden and slightly puffed up, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

These are delicious fresh, but they also reheat well, so you can make them ahead, allow to cool, then re-heat for about 5 minutes in a hot oven.

Fresh pancakes just chilling out on a tea-towel
The mincemeat pancakes were delicious - to make them, I started off making a regular scotch pancake batter, but before I added the milk, dolloped in half a jar of suet-less mincemeat. I then added enough milk to get the correct consistency, but it was a fair amount less than usual, since the mincemeat was quite runny. Then I cooked them as usual. They were great cold, but even better toasted the next day for breakfast!

Mr E & Mini-M mid-pancake munch, waiting for the penguin parade
Say cheese if you love pancakes!