These irresistibly tasty snacks have interesting stories behind them too
Too tempting to resist, fried foods have time and again trapped us with their flavour and aroma. A staple of almost all street cuisines in every nation around the world, deep-fried foods have been traditionally enjoyed across cultures. Although the process of deep frying food is generally thought to lower the nutritional value of food, most of us still love to dig into a bag of crispy fries or bite into juicy, crunchy chicken.
Interestingly, every continent has their own fried food items that are unique in taste and texture, and they also have an interesting story behind them. While some have originated in a place where they are very popular, others bring some influence from other cuisines and cultures. Nevertheless, they all are delicious and worth knowing more about.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular fried foods from around the world.
1. Fried Zucchini Flowers - Italy
Fried Zucchini Blossoms are a traditional Italian food item. A springtime delight, squash and zucchini flowers bloom on squash and zucchini plants. After being carefully picked by gardeners, these blossoms are dipped in a light batter of flour, baking powder, eggs, milk and salt, and then fried until they turn golden and fluffy. A popular delicacy, Fried Zucchini Flowers are also stuffed with cheese, prosciutto, rice and herbs.
2. Scotch Eggs - The UK
Another popular fried food, Scotch Eggs are hard boiled eggs bundled in sausage meat, which is then coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried until they turn crispy brown. This super yummy snack is often regarded as a protein-packed bar that has left a mark in the country’s culinary history. Regarding its origin, some are of the opinion that it’s a 19th Century delicacy that was first made in Yorkshire. According to others, British retailer Fortnum & Mason is behind its history, while it could also be a British take on India’s Nargisi Kofta, many say.
3. Kibbeh - Middle East
The national dish of Lebanon and Syria, Kibbeh is an integral part of Middle Eastern cuisine. The deep-fried dish is made using spiced minced meat, onions and grain. Traditionally, Kibbeh is mixed and ground by hand, which is then given the shape and fried in oil. It can be given the shape of football-shaped balls or large discs. Sometimes, Kibbeh is also baked into casserole dishes. Its name comes from classical Arabic kubbah, meaning dome.
How can we have a list of fried foods without featuring everyone’s all-time favourite Fried Chicken! Korea gets the credit for deep-fried chicken wings, served with kimchi, garlic sauce and pickled radish on the side. The American-style Fried Chicken, on the other hand, comes with a thick and craggy crust, while the chicken pieces are marinated with buttermilk and coated in seasoned flour before frying. The batter used in the Korean variation is thin and more crispy. ‘Fried Chicken’ is said to be an American-English expression that was first recorded in the 1830s.
8. Churros - Spain, Portugal and Latin America
Quite famous across the globe, the origin of Churros is a little blurry. The ridged pastry sticks came to Europe from China through the Portuguese, one theory suggests. It then gained popularity in Spain and Portugal. Sweet and crunchy, Churros are eaten during breakfast and also a snack throughout Latin America. The snack gets its signature shape from the way it is prepared - the batter is piped through a star-shaped tip into hot oil. It’s also usually dusted with cinnamon sugar.
9. Tempura - Japan
A light batter consisting of soft flour, eggs and icy cold water does the trick for this popular Japanese dish. Tempura uses seafood (usually shrimp), meat and vegetables, which are then battered and deep fried. In terms of vegetables, mushrooms, lotus root and burdock, seaweed and leafy greens, okra and shishito peppers are favoured choices. In the 16th Century, Portuguese missionaries introduced a meatless version of the dish to the Japanese people. The word ‘tempura’ comes from the word ‘tempora’, which is a Latin word meaning ‘time period’ used by Spanish and Portuguese missionaries.
10. Pakora - India
Pakoras served with chutney and a cup of chai is a match made in heaven, which is best enjoyed during the rainy season. Such is the fascination for these spiced fritters that you’ll find them in roadside stalls, fancy restaurants and at every household in India. It’s a versatile snack that can be made with any vegetable of choice. Potato and onion pakoras, however, are the most popular options. These are coated in seasoned gram flour batter and then deep-fried. Pikora, pakoda, pakodi, bhaji, bhajiya, bora and ponako are among the other names these fritters are known as.