Fried Green Tomatillos with Burrata, Cumin and Basil
- 2 (4-ounce) balls burrata cheese
- 4 medium tomatillos (husks removed and rinsed) or 2 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 or 2 limes
- A few fresh basil leaves, hand-torn or sliced into thin ribbons
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3 to 4 tablespoons canola oil, for frying
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I use gluten-free all-purpose baking mix)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala (storebought or homemade, recipe follows)
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Aarti's Hot (not heavy!) Masala: Homemade Garam Masala:
- 3 large cinnamon sticks (if you have the kind you get at Indian stores, it's about 3 tablespoons of cinnamon bark bits)
- 3 tablespoons whole cloves
- 1/4 cup green cardamom pods, shelled, husks discarded (about 2 tablespoons of seeds)
- 4 large black cardamom pods, shelled, husks discarded (about 1 tablespoon of seeds) - optional
This looks like a lot of work, but it really isn't. All you have to do is set yourself up for success! First, line a baking sheet with paper towels or parchment paper. Set a cooling rack over it. This will be where you land your fried 'maters.
Then, using your hands, rip the burrata into bite-size pieces (1 per slice of tomatillo), and line them up on a plate. Season them with a little salt and pepper. Slice your lime into wedges so that it's easy to squeeze over the top of the whole thing at the end; keep your basil handy too. Set them aside.
To make the cumin oil: In a very small skillet (cast-iron if you have it), warm the olive oil until it's nearly smoking. Add the cumin seeds. Cook's Note: The seeds should sizzle once they hit that oil! If not, your oil is not hot enough.
Cook, swirling the pan every now and then, until the cumin seeds darken in colour (don't let them burn!). As soon as they've darkened, pour the oil into a small bowl, and let it cool.
Then, grab a large skillet (again cast-iron is awesome) and set it over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil. Keep an eye on it while you set up your dredging station (if it starts to smoke, take it off the heat to cool off).
Pour the buttermilk into a flat-bottomed dish, and season with a little salt and pepper. In another similarly shaped bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, garam masala, and cayenne pepper. Season it also with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
To check that the oil is hot, drop a pinch of the flour-cornmeal mixture into the pan. If it sizzles enthusiastically at you, it's time to go!
Dip both sides of a tomatillo slice in the buttermilk. Then, using your other hand (to avoid the "claw"), dredge it in the cornmeal mixture. Shake off excess cornmeal, and drop it into the oil. Repeat with as many slices as you can fit into the pan without overcrowding. By the time you've placed the last slice in the pan, it will probably be time to flip the first one. It should be lightly golden, but not soft. Cook another minute or so, and then remove to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
To assemble: Place the tomatillos on a platter. Top each one with a piece of burrata. Drizzle those puppies with a little cumin-infused oil. Sprinkle some basil over the top and finish with a squeeze of lime juice. Serve your fancy-pants fried green beauties immediately!Aarti's Hot (not heavy!) Masala: Homemade Garam Masala:
Combine the cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, green cardamom pods, and black cardamom pods into a spice/coffee grinder and grind until fine. Store the masala in an airtight container away from direct sunlight. Yield: about 1/2 cup