• Gluten-free pancakes with blueberry, banana and honey (Donal's: Cook, Eat, Burn)Source: Donal's: Cook, Eat, Burn
A fast-track to comfort.
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21 Aug 2020 - 12:26 PM  UPDATED 21 Aug 2020 - 12:37 PM

These are tough times and we all need to go easy on ourselves. This is not the time for rigorous food regimes or judgmental health schemes. Right now we all need comfort, care and batter.

Gently coating any food in batter and lovingly baking or frying it seems to put the world to rights for a moment. A little crisp crunch, or buttery flake or puffy melt activates all the right happiness areas in our over-wrought brains. Batter creates the ultimate comfort food to soothe these troubled times.

Here's how to get your fix.

Lighten things up

Start with the lightest, airiest batter and see how you feel. Any vegetable can be dipped into a Japanese tempura batter and made instantly more cosy. It may be enough, of you may need to move onto a more substantial batter. Eat plenty to be absolutely sure.

Tempura on
Lemon myrtle vegetable tempura

Lemon myrtle is relatively easy to come by nowadays and adds a subtle citrus hum to both sweet or savoury dishes.

Tempura vegetables

What you're after in a tempura recipe is a batter that cooks up to be light, crisp and golden. This recipe does exactly that. 

Tempura abalone

This is a fast and easy introduction to the luxurious Australian seafood, using a handful of pantry staples. 

Tempura prawns

The cornichon salsa gives these fluffy crispy tempura prawns a fresh kick.

Load it up

Okonomiyaki starts with a soy sauce-enhanced batter and builds from there. You add shredded cabbage plus whatever veggies and protein you like and cook it all up like a pancake. Then you start adding your favourite condiments like bonito flakes, Worchestershire sauce, mayonnaise, ginger, boiled eggs - don't skimp. Add whatever makes your heart sing, the messier the better.

Roll it up

This rice crepe batter is packed with carrots, which means you're adding a ton of feel-good vitamins into the mix. The resulting crepes are wrapped around an equally-virtuous raw veggie and tofu filling. This is the kind of batter you'll happily find comfort in on the regular.

Crêpe escape
Sizzling Vietnamese crepes

Once you master these fragrant coconut milk crepes you'll be dreaming of all the things you can wrap in them. This recipe serves the crepes with stir-fried pork belly and prawns - a strong place to start.

Turmeric crêpes

Oh, how I miss the Conscious Cafe in Byron Bay. I would eat at least three or four of their turmeric crêpes with a poached egg every week, and when they closed down I literally thought I had lost the will to go on… I then gave myself a metaphorical slap across the face and started making them myself.

Buckwheat crêpes with eggs (galettes de ble noir a l’oeufs)

A classic French dish to be enjoyed day or night, buckwheat crêpes lend themselves to any number of toppings. Here, we've paired the crêpes with baked-on eggs and a simple side salad.

Crêpes with raspberries and marmalade

French pancakes are thin and are made using plain flour. French families make them regularly as a dessert, and love to organise pancake parties where guests make their own crêpe and flip it into the air.

Stir it up

Proper yeast-risen waffles

Get out the whisk and a very strong arm and whip your way to proper yeast-risen waffles. Get it ready the night before, then leave overnight in the fridge for the yeast to slowly come to life. The result is a crisp-on-the-outside, soft-in-the-middle breakfast that will set you up for a mighty fine day.

Waffle on
Roasted butternut squash waffles

Butternut squash definitely doesn’t feature in a regular Swedish waffle, but it does give it a natural sweetness. It also gives you the option of turning this into a savoury starter, or even a main course.

Pizzelle (Italian stovetop waffles)

I like these served simply with a dust of icing sugar but they’re also perfect topped with a dollop of mascarpone and a cascade of fresh berries.

Falafel waffles

Yes, this recipe title may have made you do a double-take; but yes, it actually really works. Nutty, earthy chickpeas and grapes that pop with sweetness. Consider it a Middle Eastern-style take on waffles.

Cauliflower and cheese waffles

These are ideal for a quick supper, unexpected lunch guests and even a cocktail party nibble (cut into small portions). Top with anything you like, including creamed chicken, sauteed mushrooms or tomato sauce. The recipe doubles easily and the batter can be used for pancakes as well.

Level it up

Any old pancake batter would probably do, but this blueberry, banana and honey version takes indulgence next-level. A level that involves the fluffiest gluten-free pancakes you'll ever encounter. Climb aboard.

Flipping good
Caramelised banana pancakes

Everyone loves these American-style sweet and sticky caramelised banana pancakes.

Pistachio pancakes with clotted cream (katmer)

In parts of Turkey, these ghee-fried cream pancakes are eaten for breakfast as the pistachio is believed to alleviate fatigue and increase energy levels. 

Crisp Vietnamese coconut pancakes with prawns (Banh khot)

Crisp little bowls are made with a turmeric-laced pancake batter and filled with fresh, lively flavours of Vietnam. They're a popular street snack in Southern regions.

Fluffy chocolate pancakes

The sweet-and-salty combination of flavours, and the fluffy-crisp-creamy combination of textures will have you counting the days until you can make this recipe again. 

Savoury it

Uttapam

Uttapam is an unbelievably good Indian pancake-meets-pizza affair. The unique savoury batter is made by soaking bread in water then blitzing with semolina and yoghurt. It's a complex dish with many elements, but the methodical method brings its own kind of concentrated comfort. 

Confuse it with potato scallops*

Potato scallops

* If you're in Queensland, Western Australian and most of NSW. Otherwise, enjoy these potato fritters, cakes or just plain old scallops as you will. Whatever you call them, the delicious crunch of salted batter wrapped around soft, perfectly-cooked potato is good for the soul.

Put a ring on(ion) it

Onion rings are extraordinarily good at taking cares away. Add salt and vinegar and they won't be coming back any time soon.

Fritter it away

Tucking into a plate of cauliflower is probably not what dreams are made of. Add an apple cider-laced batter to turn it into fritters and we're on cloud nine. There's even a generous spice-kick to the batter mix to help send us there.

Fritter away
Honey and cheese fritters (seadas)

These light, golden fritters are a little bit sweet and a little bit savoury. 

Cherry-on-top fritters (zeppole di San Giuseppe)

These golden fritters are light and fluffy with a crisp crust. Zeppole di San Giuseppe, Saint Joseph fritters, are served on Saint Joseph’s Day which in Italy happens to be Father’s Day.   

Eggplant fritters with wild honey and cinnamon sugar

It's not that common in Western cooking to mix sweet and savoury but the soft texture and mild flavour of eggplant makes it surprisingly good for a sweet-savoury mashup.

Corn fritters

You know it will be a good day when you start it with these golden rays of fritter sunshine! Tailor them to your hunger levels with crispy bacon and an egg, or simply some fresh baby spinach and cherry tomatoes. 

Crunch it

Parveen's onion and potato bhaji

Chickpea flour makes a light, nutty batter that is immensely satisfying to crunch into. Onion and potato bhajis are the perfect batter vehicle. You can make them as spicy as you like, but, of course, the spicier the besan bhaji, the better the batter. Or something like that...

Besan good
Chickpea-battered chicken with tzatziki

Chickpea flour has a lovely nutty flavour and makes for super-crunchy fried chicken – and it’s gluten-free, too.

Red onion bhajis with minted raita

Bring a little bit of Bollywood into your kitchen with these exotic vegetarian morsels. Bhajis are the Indian version of vegetable fritters, and are perfect as a colourful entrée or canapé at your next backyard soiree.

Vegetable pakora

Pakora is another popular street food from Nepal, served warm to hot and quite similar to Japanese tempura. Vegetable pakora is the most common type and it's enjoyed with a typical Nepali-style tomato pickle or golbheda ko achaar.

Deep-fried quince-stuffed green olives

This is a dish that has appeared on the menu at Berta several times, it’s a little fiddly but makes for a delicious salty and sweet antipasti. It’s essential to find big green olives for this dish as they are the only ones that have the right amount of room inside to stuff. You can easily pre-stuff a whole heap and have them resting in your fridge ready to be floured and fried whenever the need arises. It’s a fancy little snack to have on hand to impress your friends. In fact, it’s actually easier to make this in a slightly larger batch and you’ll find these olives are almost as good eaten just stuffed without being fried. Deep-fried is better though.

Make it fishy

We couldn't possibly put together a list of battered favourites without battering up some fish. This one is Andy Allen's Dad's beer battered flathead with tartare sauce. Add a handful of sand to this classic battered fish combination to instantly transport you onto a beach somewhere. The waves are pounding, the gulls are swooping and the tang of salt and sunscreen is reminding you that life is good, no matter what.

Batter your seafood
Battered amritsari fish with smashed fried potatoes

“Believe it or not, India has its own authentic version of fish and chips and this is my take on it. This really delicious fish is synonymous with Amritsar and sees the locals battling out whose is better. At its best it is crispy on the outside while the flesh is flavoured and creamy. For best results serve immediately though you can also make the fish pieces earlier and refry them over a high flame when people come around, which will make it even crisper. You can make these moreish fried potatoes as spicy or flavoursome as you like by adjusting the amount of spice you sprinkle over at the end.” Anjum Anand, Anjum's Australian Spice Stories

Tempura whiting

What’s really important in this dish is that the water is ice-cold and the fish is just out of the fridge. Don’t let the batter sit for any length of time, and definitely don’t stir it until there are no lumps – lumpy batter, an anathema to European cooks, is just fine for tempura, and helps give the crisp, crunchy, multi-textured coating that defines the best versions.

King George whiting and chips

With its delicate white flesh and light, nutty flavour, South Australia’s favourite fish is perfect for fish and chips. Just a simple beer batter, some crispy chips and a fresh, undressed salad are all you need.

Home-brew battered wahoo and cherry guava salad

Peter shares what he considers to be the best beer batter ever. He uses it to create a deliciously crunchy wahoo fillet, served alongside a summer salad of cherry guava.

Crispy John Dory with pea mash and gorkha chutney
Classic English fish and chips

The beer batter in this recipe gives a beautifully crisp coating that not only helps steam the fish, it also keeps it moist during frying. Make sure you buy firm, thick, white fish fillets such as flathead. The secret of the best chips is in the double cooking! It's also a good idea to use a variety of potato that has a low water content.

Crispy chilli fish

Crispy chilli fish