Thursday, July 1, 2021

Zucchini-Red Lentil Fritters With Lemony Yogurt Dip

These crispy, crackly Zucchini-Red Lentil Fritters take inspiration from the traditional Bengali onion snacks called Piyaju (red lentil fritters with onions). Soaked and blended red lentils make up the batter, which is then spiked with turmeric and chile powder. Onion, zucchini and parsley add texture. And frying them in ghee (a hard fat that is obtained by heating butter made from the milk of a cow or a buffalo, used in Indian cooking) at relatively high heat until they turn deep golden brown makes them crunchy on the outside, while the inside stays moist.

While these fritters look like Pakoras or Onion Bhaji known from Indian cuisine, they take their main texture from the soaked and ground red lentils rather than from chickpea flour. Also, the veggie ratio in these frittres is somewhat higher than with a Pakora or Bhaji. 

A few years back we made Onion Bhajis with gram flour (aka chickpea flour) as well as Cauliflower Pakoras with Tamarind Raita for the Cottage Cooking Club, both recipes being from the 2011 edition of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s cookbook, "River Cottage Everyday Veg". See the pics/collages below. And the whole family loved these. So when I came across the recipe for these Red Lentil-Zucchini Fritters, I knew I had to give it a try.

Before you get started on the recipe, you have to soak the red lentils for a while – I soaked them for a good four hours before proceeding with the recipe.

Also, about an hour before you want to fry these, you have to cut up the onion and the zucchini, salt them and place them in a colander to drain off any extra liquid or moisture before continuing on with the recipe. After you drained the liquid from the veg, make sure to blot them with a kitchen towel, no need to squeeze them, as that will break up the veggies too much and leave you with less texture after frying.

You are aiming for a crispy outside with lots of texture from the added onions as well as the parsley with the tender stems attached – make sure to give them a good two minutes per side, so they fry up to a nice golden brown crunchiness. 

Zucchini-Red Lentil Fritters With Lemony Yogurt

(inspired by Sohla El-Waylly)


For the Lemony Yogurt

  • ¾ cup whole-milk yogurt (if you prefer, you can use Greek yogurt)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • salt

For the Fritters

  • 200g (1 cup) red lentils (I used organic lentils from my favorite health food store - althought these are bright orange, they are called red lentils)
  • 1 zucchini (M) 
  • ½ onion (M), thinly sliced
  • 1¾ tsp salt, divided, plus more
  • ½ tsp chile powder (such as Kashmiri chile powder) or ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 cup Italian/flat-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest (organic or untreated)
  • 1 cup ghee or neutral vegetable oil (such as rapeseed or sunflower oil, suitable for frying)


Lemony Yogurt

  1. Whisk yogurt, lemon juice, and sugar in a small bowl to combine. Season with salt and whisk again to combine. NOTE: Yogurt can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.


  1. Rinse red lentils, then soak in 2 cups water at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 12 (again, I soaked them for 4 hours). Soaking the lentils will make it easier to blend them.
  2. Slice the zuchini into matchsticks (about the size of a skinny french fry). Transfer zucchini to a colander set in a medium bowl. Add the sliced onion and 1 tsp salt to colander and toss to combine. Let zucchini and onion sit until about 1 Tbsp liquid has released and the vegetables look wilted and soft, 30mins to 2 hours (for me, 1 hour usually does the trick). Gently blot dry to remove any excess moisture. NOTE: the less moisture in the veggies, the less soggy your fritters will be, so be sure not to skip this step.
  3. Drain lentils and transfer to a food processor. Add chile powder, turmeric, and ¾ tsp salt. Pulse, scraping down sides, until a purée forms. Transfer to a medium bowl and add zucchini and onion mixture, parsley, and lemon zest. Toss well with a rubber spatula to combine.
  4. Heat ghee in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high until a small amount of batter added to the fat sizzles and sputters. Carefully drop ¼ cup batter into ghee, then flatten to a pancake with the back of a large metal spoon dipped into the hot ghee to prevent sticking. Repeat 3 times for a total of 4 fritters. Fry until deep golden brown on one side (look for the color of a well-fried falafel), about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn with a slotted spatula or large spoon and continue to fry until deep golden brown on the second side, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer fritters to a wire rack set in a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Season immediately with salt. Repeat with remaining batter (you should have about 8 to 10 fritters).
  5. Transfer fritters to a platter. Serve hot with lemony yogurt alongside.

For more on the Onion Bhajis, pls take a look HERE.

For more on the Cauliflower Pakoras with Tamarind Raita, pls thake a look HERE.


  1. This looks wonderful. The zucchinis in my garden are growing and I am looking for different recipes to use them. Vielen Dank und bleib gesund.

    1. Liebe Gerlinde,
      erstmal nochmals Danke für deine Mühe bezüglich der Kommentare - ich weiß das wirklich zu schätzen.
      So Fritter mit roten Linsen, Zucchini und Zwiebeln und einem säuerlichen Jogurt Dip sind schon ganz schön lecker. So sommerlich.
      Liebe Grüße,

  2. These fritters look delicious. And the photography is particularly elegant, and the settings charming. Thanks so much!

    1. Dear Mark,
      thank you for your kind words - summertime seems to be a good time around here for taking pics...
      Wishing you and David a Happy Fourth of July today!

    2. Andrea - I cannot tell you how fantastic these were! They were the perfect supper for us last evening. What I found amazing is that the lemon yogurt didn't really taste lemony until we had it with the fritters - and then it was so lemony and the perfect accompaniment for the zucchini and lentils. We will definitely be making these again and again, especially while zucchini is in season. A new favorite!

    3. Dear David, first of all a big fat thank you for the lovely email as well as you wonderful comment! I greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness and your feedback! It certainly makes me happy to read that you and Mark both enjoyed these veggie fritters with the yogurt dip!
      Ganz liebe Gruesse an euch beide!

    4. And I bought more zucchini so that we could make them again this week. I forgot to say that frying them in ghee was amazing. I generally only use it for Indian dishes but now I need to expand my horizons a bit more.

  3. These fritters look delicious. I like the spices and the red lentils in them.

  4. Unas fotos preciosas :-))
    y que ricos los buñuelos.
    1 saludito

    1. Dear Mijú,
      thank you for your kind comment - fritters are always a winner it seems and this recipe was really well received at home.

  5. I love both zucchinis and lentils, but I don't think I've ever had them together! These fritters looks and sound as a perfect summer dish; also, loving the addition of this refreshing lemony yogurt dressing!

    1. Dear Ben, thank you so much for stopping by for comments! So nice to read that you like the fritters, they happen to be a great change from my ususal fritters, with the soaked lentils and all and the kids really enjoyed them as well, especially with the lemony yogurt dip.

  6. I love, love fritters and these are so tempting! I have a stash of lentils in the pantry and now I know what to do with them!! Delicious!!!

    1. Dear Liz, thank you very much! We all love fritters too, be they corn, potato or zucchini. I particularly enjoy them in summertime.

  7. These fritters look delicious! I love the yogurt sauce!

    1. Thank you very much, dear Jeff, these are nice summertime fritters which happen to be healthy-ish as well - my kind of weekday supper.