These Daltjies or Spinach and sweet corn fritters are a made from scratch and are a delicious and easy to make Cape Malay appetiser, crispy on the outside and soft and pillowy on the inside.
Cape Malay Daltjies or Chilli bites are made with chickpea flour and are a ubiquitous Cape Malay savory appetiser found on the tables of most homes during Ramadhan or for a quick snack.
In Cape Malay homes daltjies are usually eaten at the time of breaking the fast with mushroom soup, red lentil soup, boeber or falooda milkshake and is one of my favourite Ramadhan treats since childhood.
My favourite daltjie recipes during childhood were those made by my father’s sister Gadija and his niece Faieka. I was never able to master either of their recipes, to my great disappointment.
In more recent times my favorite daltjie was from our neighbor Aunty Faldeela. When she was pregnant during Ramadhan with her daughter (nearly 30 years ago now), she was too tired to make fancy things like she used to in previous years. So every night she made daltjies. After two weeks she apologised for sending the same thing every night when Katriena passed the plate over the back wall. Katriena laughingly told her that it was the one thing I looked forward to every night at iftar. So from that day she made daltjies every single night during every Ramadan when I was still in Cape Town. This is the closest I came to her texture and when her daughter sent me her mother’s actual recipe I saw that it was very close except for the oil and sugar that I have included here as optional.
A few years ago my mother’s friend gave me a tip that transformed my daltjies from boring to sublime. She suggested that I use her easy chilli bites recipe consisting of a popular pre-packaged chilli bites mix with sweet corn kernels added in. It resulted in the most delightful flavour combination, and one I have tried to recreate here without using any pre-pack mix.
Cape Malay daltjies are very similar to Indian vegetarian snacks like a vegetable bhajia recipe or corn pakoda and is a twist on a palak corn recipe. My later father enjoyed his crispy spinach fritters if they were made with big pieces of spinach leaf dipped into the daltjie batter and shallow fried.
Daltjies are delicious at iftar served with soup or boeber.
For other recipes for Ramadan snacks you can check our Ramadhan recipes or click on the links below.
- Vegan Red Lentil soup
- Falooda milkshake
- Cape Malay Pancakes (pannekoek recipe)
- South African Flapjacks pancakes
Cape Malay Daltjies (Chilli bites)
- 100 grams chickpea flour approximately 250 ml or 1 cup
- 140 grams cake or fine sponge flour approximately 250 ml or 1 cup
- 10 ml baking powder approximately 2 level teaspoons
- 2.5 ml salt adjust as required
- 7.5 ml ground cumin approximately 1 1/2 teaspoon
- 5 ml ground coriander approximately 1 teaspoon
- 2.5 ml turmeric powder approximately 1/2 teaspoon
- 1 small red onion finely grated (approximately 40 grams)
- 1 small carrot finely grated (approximately 40 grams)
- 50 grams chopped spinach approximately 250 ml or 1 cup
- 125 ml sweet corn kernels approximately 1/2 cup
- 1 chopped green chilli use 2 for spicy
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves and stalks
- 1 clove garlic finely grated
- 1 egg plus water to make 200 ml liquid.
- 5 ml olive oil approximately 1 teaspoon
- 5 ml sugar approximately 1 teaspoon
- 750 ml Sunflower Oil, for deep frying use as much as required to deep fry in your pot
- Coriander micro-greens
- In a clean medium sized bowl sift the chickpea flour, cake flour and salt.
- Add the ground cumin, ground coriander and turmeric and combine with a whisk.
- In another bowl grate the garlic, onion and carrot and add the chopped spinach, corn kernels and chilli and stir to mix through.
- Finely chop the coriander leaves and stalks and add to the other vegetables.
- Toss the vegetables into the chickpea flour and then add the egg and water mixture. If using add the sugar and oil too.
- Stir to combine thoroughly and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes before frying.
- At this point you can add the optional teaspoon olive oil and sugar and mix it through.
- Let the batter rest for 10 minutes. The batter may seem thick at first but will loosen up while it rests as the vegetables start releasing their liquid.
- Add the baking powder just before frying and mix through thoroughly before frying off tablespoon fulls of batter in oil at least 5 cm deep.
- Fry until golden brown and check that they are evenly cooked before removing with a slotted spoon.
- Drain on kitchen paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
- Garnish with coriander micro-greens (or chopped coriander) and serve hot.
- All spices are not equal so check the flavor and taste of the batter and add more spices and seasoning where required.
- If you want it a bit spicier, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder.
- If you don't have spinach, then kale or swiss chard may be used instead.
- I used a small ice cream scoop to obtain even sized balls.
- The balls will roll over when they are cooked on the one side.
- Nutrition: I have estimated 5ml sunflower oil per daltjie even though if cooked at the right temperature the batter does not absorb much oil.
Disclaimer: Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.
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This recipe was first published on 05/06/2016 has since been updated.