I’ve spent the better part of my life living a minimum of 2 hours drive, maximum of 2 plane rides away from the nearest relatives. When you’re young (or at least when I was…) it’s the stuff of romantic coming of age stories, the independence seemingly wild and free and far flung. When you’re older, and especially when you have children, it’s the stuff of product distribution shipping maps – tactical and logistics-driven, trying to make sure everyone is looked after and accounted for. When I moved to London, I was completely taken with the feeling of anonymity as I breezed throughout the city undetected. Now, in a smaller neighbourhood just outside of London, I am grateful for the companionship that comes with smaller community living. I can send my children barefoot (mind the dog poop!) two doors down the road for a playdate. I pass tupperware, plants and other sundries over the fence behind us on a regular basis. I am part of a group text in which it is perfectly acceptable for one parent to text that their child forgot to take their school lunch and another parent to run a spare one over to the school. In exchange for a bump off of the 2-minute wait time for a train into London, I’ve gained a well-woven support net that will help me get where I really need to go faster than London’s century old public transportation. This kind of community has become exceptionally valued when living far away from immediate family, and admittedly we’ve taken advantage of its buoyancy several times already just this week.
One of those occasions has been so Nick and I could sneak away for an easy local dinner after a head-spinningly busy week and weekend. Nothing that necessitated more than a swipe of lipstick and a quick armpit smell check, but one that felt surprisingly refreshing after a long week’s worth of responsibilities. And though I am still not sold on the name of this dish (why does everything need to be a replacement ‘fry’ ‘chip’ or ‘wing’ right now?!) the plate of haloumi fries we had while sipping cold drinks and enjoying a quiet Sunday evening by the river, was one worth repeating at home. I suppose, when it really comes down to it, my needs are relatively simple ones: a handful of friends who become family and a generous helping of fried cheese. Both will go a remarkably long way to see you through a busy week.
Spiced Halloumi ‘Fries’
1 pack halloumi cheese, wrapped in a kitchen towel to drain excess moisture
4 tablespoons plain white flour
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
zest of 1 lemon to garnish
coriander flowers, to garnish if available
vegetable oil for frying
Cheats Chermoula & Yoghurt Dip
1 tablespoon Chermoula paste (I use this one)
2 tablespoons Greek Style Yoghurt
Begin by wrapping the brick of halloumi in a paper towel or a tea towel for 10 minutes or so to drain excess moisture, which will make for a much less splashy fry later.
Meanwhile in a medium sized bowl combine flour with all spices – no need to include salt here as the halloumi itself is salty enough!
Once the cheese has drained sufficiently slice into fry-like-shapes, between 1/2 – 1cm thick, then add into the bowl of flour. Cover and coat each halloumi fry with the spiced flour completely on all sides to ensure it will be crispy when fried. On a large dinner plate lay a few sheets of paper towel for draining excess oil after frying.
In a heavy-bottomed frying pan heat 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil (until the oil reaches approx 1cm-high in the pan) to a high heat. Very carefully lay the slices of flour coated halloumi, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes until golden brown on the bottom before carefully flipping over to cook for a further 3-4 minutes until golden. Remove onto your paper towel to drain for a minute or two before serving alongside Cheats Chermoula Yoghurt Dip as a fantastic appetiser or alongside a few fresh salads and dips like this one as a main course)