Greek Tiganites, Addictively Delicious Fried Treats

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on May 5, 2014

Greek Tiganites, www.goodfoodgourmet.comMy mother was always the queen of snack making – she’s the only person I know who loved making snacks more than we loved eating them. When my friends would visit, my mother always ended up in the kitchen to make us whatever we wanted. Whether it was a delicious bowl of stovetop halva, endless piles of crispy fried potatoes, sweet little donuts called loukoumades or moist and nutty basbousa, mum always showed her love through her tireless efforts to please us.

When we didn’t have any yeast on hand, mum would make us something called tiganites (tee-ga-nee-tes), which means fried in Greek.  The word itself can be used as an adjective when describing fried potatoes (patates tiganites) where the accent is on the ‘tes’, or it can be used as a descriptive noun as in tiganites, where the accent is on the ‘ti’.

This isn’t anything you really need to know in order to make these, but if you are adept at picking up the different nuances in foreign languages, you might notice the difference in the pronunciation.  Tiganites are made with baking powder (not yeast) and are more like a cake donut, whereas loukoumades are more like a mini yeast donut.

Mum always made the batter a little firmer so that they would puff up into little balls in the hot oil to look like loukoumades, but traditionally, they are made a little flatter – many people mistake them for something similar to a pancake. To achieve this shape, use the same recipe below with 3/4 to 1 cup of milk to thin out the batter. They key to making flatter tiganites is to use much less oil — just enough to coat the entire pan. You want to give the batter room to spread in the pan, and if you have too much oil they will puff up. Here is what traditional tiganites look like…

Greek Tiganites,

Make them the way you like them — less milk makes them taste like a delicate cake donut and more milk makes them crispier outside and very moist, almost custard-y, inside. The difference in the shape does not change how delicious these quick little treats are, especially when the ultimate plan it to soak them with some warm, buttered honey.

So, now that the kids are going to be hovering around you for the next few months while on summer break, add this recipe to your arsenal of quick treats. There’s no proofing or unnecessary waiting – all you need is a fork and some hungry tummies.

Greek Tiganites (Cake Donuts) (makes about 20 pieces)
1 egg
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup whole milk
1 cup flour
¾ teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Add the egg, sugar, vanilla and milk together in a medium sized bowl and whisk well, then set aside. In a separate bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk together until there are no lumps.

Greek Tiganites,

Add about 1.5” of oil into a small pot or skillet and heat oil on low to moderate heat. Having this amount of oil in the pot/skillet is important because it allows the tiganites to flip themselves over as they fry. After a minute or so, add a small piece of batter into the oil. Once it begins to sizzle, your oil is ready. Fish out this piece of test dough so that the others do not stick to it, and then spoon your batter slowly into the hot oil.

Greek Tiganites,

I usually use about half a tablespoon of batter because I find that this makes the perfect size pieces to pop in your mouth. If these are too small you can add slightly more, but not too much or they might remain raw.

Greek Tiganites,

Greek Tiganites,

Greek Tiganites,

Decide what topping you would like for these – warm buttered honey is the most common but you can also toss them in powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. Once you have decided on your topping, keep it close by because you need to coat them while they are still warm. Once they are a nice golden brown color, remove the tiganites to a paper lined plate just to catch any excess oil and then toss them into your favorite coating. I usually go for either the warm buttered honey or cinnamon sugar, but you can also serve these to dip into your favorite jam or a quick, delicious, chocolate ganache.  Just make sure to make a big batch and serve them nice and warm.

Greek Tiganites,

Greek Tiganites,
Greek Tiganites,

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