So what do you eat while you’re enjoying the sunshine, beaches, shopping, art and architecture of Rhodes? That’s tricky, since Rhodes has all the great Greek masterpieces available, but one thing that is truly Rhodian is pitaroudia.
Pitaroudia are big, fluffy chickpea fritters. Think falafel, but irregularly shaped, and mixed with tomatoes, mint, and onions, so a different flavor profile. So while you have your fish and souvlaki and spanakopita and everything else, make sure to try Rhodes’ national dish.
Most recipes will tell you to start with dried chickpeas, which you have to soak overnight and then boil for a couple of hours. Look. You’re busy. And they make some very high quality canned chickpeas. The foodies tell me there’s a difference, but honestly, with chickpeas, I can’t tell it. So make it easy on yourself.
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups onions, very finely chopped
2 tomatoes, grated -- yes grated. It’s a mess, but you want flavor and texture without chunks
1/4 cup mint, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin (optional)
salt and pepper
flour (around 1/4 cup)
olive oil to fry (NOT extra virgin)
Start with two good cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained, and grind them in a food processor until they’re coarsely ground and kind of mealy.
Then in a big bowl, mix them with the onion, tomatoes, mint, and salt and pepper to taste. If you like (and I do), throw in cumin as well.
Add just enough flour to make a dough that will allow you to make patties that won’t fall apart, approximately 2-3 tablespoons.
Spread more flour onto a large plate and warm up about a quarter inch of oil in a large heavy skillet. This is frying, so don’t use extra-virgin olive oil. Use a frying olive oil with a higher smoke point. If you don’t have olive, use canola or vegetable, but the high smoke point is key.
Form a patty in your hands with about 2 tablespoons of the dough, dredge it lightly in flour and fry until golden, flipping once to cook on both sides. You can do a few at a time, but not too many - crowding the pan will lower the temperature of the oil and make them greasy.
Remove and drain on paper towels.
If you need to add more oil, be sure to let it get fully hot before adding more patties.
Serve with a tzatziki dip. Yum.
Photo by user latinsoapsfever on Wikicommons