I have a massive soft spot for hot desserts: Chocolate lava cake, sticky toffee pudding, gulab jamun and ice cream, seeroh and cold cream and of course, churros and chocolate. Or churros and dulce de leche. Or churros and scented candle wax. Okay maybe not the last one but basically, I’ll eat churros with anything.
Like many others before me, I believe that there’s a separate stomach for dessert. You can eat all the empanadas, cassava fries and frijoles you like but in my book, the sensation of something sweet on your palate is always a welcome one.
And this second stomach rule doesn’t just extend to South American food and hot desserts – it could be palak paneer, naan and kulfi, or thai massaman curry, papaya salad and coconut sticky rice with mango. They’re all delicious and all made better with something sweet for the finale.
Churros are one of my favourites; the delicious coating, crispy outside, soft, semi-hollow inside and the gooey dip for controlled dunking. I love it all, and so much so that I want it for dessert and as a starter.
This double churros fantasy is possible come true with my recipe for Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros. They have all the delicious components of regular churros except the flavours are inspired by India. They include everyday favourites like ajwain seeds, cumin, dried fenugreek leaves and ground turmeric for the most beautiful golden colour you ever did see.
Instead of the satisfying crunch of granulated sugar on the outside, we have sharp Cheddar and crisp morsels of chilli and spring onion. I’ve tested this recipe a number of times, probably more times than I actually needed to – not because I was tweaking it hugely, but because it has been requested so many times. We’re talking like eight times since it was conceived of back in May.
As I pipe uneven, yet rustic bits of churro dough into hot oil, I wonder why it’s taken me this long to put Indian-inspired churros on the table when it makes such perfect sense.
The dip is a cooling combination of classic coriander, mint, zesty lime and sour cream. It cuts through the earthy spices and naughtiness of the churros. The finished dip makes the deep-fried churros feel saintly and not at all like that drunken visit to Chicken Cottage (for a veggie burger in my case) after a grimy night out.
This makes for a delicious party starter when you have friends coming over. You can make the dough a little ahead of time and keep it in the fridge but in order to get your lips around crispy churros, you’ll need to fry them just before serving. I promise you it’s worth it. Serve them in a platter or in paper cones for a more chilled out feel. Throw in a couple of fried chillies if you’re feeling fancy.
Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros
For the Churros Dough:
300g plain flour
425ml boiling water
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp dried fenugreek leaves
½ tsp ajwain seeds
2 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
Oil to deep fry
For the Chilli-Cheese Coating:
120g medium strength Cheddar
2 spring onions, chopped finely
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tsp cumin seeds
For the Lime and Coriander Sour Cream Dip:
80g fresh coriander, including the stalks
40g fresh mint leaves
Juice and zest of 1 lime
2 green chillies (adjust according to your taste)
180g sour cream
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
1. To make the churros dough: In a stand mixer, combine the flour and dry spices.
2. Place the water and ghee in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for a minute, until all the ghee has completely melted and switch off the heat.
3. Turn the stand mixer on low and quickly pour in all of the water and ghee mixture. Increase the mixer speed and beat for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth.
4. Switch the mixer off.
5. Fit a large piping bag with a star-tipped nozzle (I use Wilton #22 – large open star tip) The disposable piping bags are great for this as you can just throw it away after use – good news for your next batch of icing.
6. Place the churros dough into the piping bag and ensure there aren’t any air bubbles in there. Close the top of the bag up and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
7. In the meantime, grate the cheese on the fine side of a grated and place it on a plate. Add the chopped chilli, coriander and spring onions. Next, place the cumin seeds in a dry pan and toast on a medium heat until aromatic. Give them a quick bash in the pestle and mortar and add these to the cheese mixture too. Combine and set aside.
8. Heat a large, deep-bottomed pan or wok with sunflower oil to 190C. Ensure the oil is at least 5-inches deep to make sure the churros have plenty of space to move around and cook evenly.
9. Line a plate with kitchen paper to drain the churros after they’ve been fried.
10. Keep a pair of clean scissors handy.
11. Now your workstation is ready and your oil is heated, you can start piping the churros.
12. Take the piping bag of rested dough from the fridge and carefully pipe it into the hot oil, snipping the dough with the scissors as it reaches the desired size and allowing it to gently drop into the hot oil. I love the crazy, craggy look of uneven churros – I find it more interesting to look at and eat but you can also go for straight churros sticks or any other shape you like.
13. Fry 4-5 churros at a time to ensure they cook evenly and the temperature of the oil doesn’t drop too much.
14. Don’t move them around in the oil for the first minute of cooking and then gently move them with a spider to make sure they brown evenly. All in all, they should be in the oil for about 2 minutes.
15. Remove from the oil, draining any excess oil and then transfer them to the paper towel-lined plate. They’ll become crispier as they cool here.
16. After a minute or so, place the cooked churros into the plate of chilli cheese, tossing them in the cheese. Place them onto another tray and repeat this process until you’ve used up all the churros dough.
Note: It’s important you toss the churros in the cheese mixture while they’re still super hot so it sticks to them properly.
Note: Also, if you’re going to fry some chillies to serve alongside the churros, make some holes in them first. Nobody likes hot oil and exploding chillies.
Method for the Dip:
1. To make the Coriander and Lime Sour Cream: Combine all the ingredients except the sour cream in a blender. I use my NutriBullet. Add a splash of water too. Blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and add half the sour cream. Stir to combine.
2. Before serving, place the remainder if the sour cream into a bowl and add in the coriander mixture. Stir gently for a sour cream swirl effect.