Whiting in spicy chickpea batter

Whiting in spicy chickpea batter

Mark Roper

There’s something irresistible about battered, deep-fried fish – especially if the batter is flavoured with heady spices. This dish was inspired by a recipe for pekareh (pakoras) we discovered in a local Bandari cookbook, yet another indication of the strong links between the Persian Gulf and the Indian subcontinent. This chickpea batter is one of my favourites, although to be honest, I often make it with beer instead of soda water, because of the more pronounced tangy, yeasty flavour. Either way, it is light and crunchy, tastes wonderful and is also really attractive, all flecked with spices.

If you’re serving this as part of a generous Persian spread, you’ll only need one whiting fillet per person, otherwise serve two per person for a main course.


Quantity Ingredient
12 whiting fillets
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
plain flour, for dusting
salad, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve

Spicy chickpea batter

Quantity Ingredient
500ml soda water
150 grams chickpea flour
250g self-raising
50g cornflour
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, roasted and lightly crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, roasted and lightly crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 dried red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 shallot, grated
1 clove garlic, grated
sea salt
bicarbonate of soda


  1. To make the batter, pour the soda water into a bowl and whisk in the flours, spices, chilli, shallot and garlic. Add the salt and bicarbonate of soda and leave to rest for 30 minutes before using.
  2. When ready to cook, cut the fins away from the whiting fillets and remove any stray bones. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 185ºC. Test by dropping in a little batter. If it sizzles slowly to the top, turning golden brown in 10 –15 seconds, the oil is hot enough.
  3. Working in batches, dust the whiting fillets lightly with flour, then dip into the batter, allow the excess to drip off, and gently lower into the oil. Fry for 1–2 minutes, or until the batter is golden brown.
  4. Drain briefly on paper towels and serve with a salad and lemon wedges.
Middle Eastern
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