Aarti's Hush Puppies
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Recipe courtesy of Aarti Sequeira

Hush Puppies

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 50 min
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 4 servings (about 20 hush puppies)
Down the street from our previous home in Los Angeles, there's a small joint called Mel's Fish Shack. You choose from any number of pieces of fish that they batter and fry, and we'd always get an order of hush puppies to go with it. I remember many sunny days on our porch, crunching through those crunchy puppies with my mouth slightly open to let all the steam out! I was never good at waiting for food to cool down! When I asked them if they'd share their recipe, the owner looked at me like I was weird and said, we just buy them. I was so disappointed, but then was so happy to find out they're really easy to make! Here's my version, inspired by an Indian teatime snack, dhokla, which is a savory steamed chickpea cake that's doused with mustard seeds, curry leaves and coconut.


Tempering Oil (Tadka):

Hush Puppies:


Special equipment:
a deep-fry thermometer or deep-fryer
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels, then set a wire cooling rack over the top. Set aside.
  2. For the tempering oil: Warm the ghee in a small skillet or tadka pan over medium heat. Drop a couple of mustard seeds into the ghee; if they sizzle immediately, then it's hot enough. Add the remaining mustard seeds and the green chile. Cook about 5 seconds, then carefully add the curry leaves (they will splutter!). Cook about 30 seconds, then pour into a small bowl and set aside to cool down.
  3. For the hush puppies: Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and soda, turmeric and salt together in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and lime zest together. Stir the wet ingredients and the now cooled-off tadka into the cornmeal mixture until just combined. Set aside to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, fill 10-inch cast-iron skillet with frying oil about 3/4-inch deep, or fill a deep-fryer. Preheat until it registers 375 degrees F.
  5. Drop little balls (about 1 tablespoon) of batter into the oil, being sure not to overcrowd the skillet. Fry, flipping often, until deep golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the hush puppies to the prepared rack, then sprinkle with salt and lime juice and keep warm in oven.
  6. To serve, sprinkle with the cilantro and coconut.

Cook’s Note

Try not to substitute yellow mustard seeds for the black or brown ones. The latter have a signature warm nuttiness that the former don't. Curry leaves are available at Indian stores. I wouldn't bother with the dried ones, because I don't find that they have much flavor. If you can't find them, don't worry—the mustard seeds add plenty of flavor!