What do you do when life gives you Halloumi? You could a lot of things but I’d suggest making some Crispy Halloumi Fingers. It’s a great way to eat this cheese. I have been a longish end-of-the-year break but I’m back once again.
Halloumi is a firm and unripened white cheese originally from Cyprus. It is traditionally made from a mixture of goat and sheep milk. Nowadays it is also made from cow’s milk. Halloumi is somewhat “squeaky” or chewy texture and can be eaten fresh but generally is preserved in brine. It has a high melting point which means it can be fried or grilled without it melting. In Cyprus, Halloumi is a part of the Meze, and eaten with watermelon during warmer months of the year.
We consume quite a bit of milk in South India, especially in our coffee and as yogurt. For some reason, we don’t have a tradition of making or eating cheese. As far as I know, even the paneer made in North India came from Persia or modern day Iran and thereabouts. However, in recent years, quite a few Indians have been making western style cheeses here and experimenting with them. The nicest thing about this is that most Indian made cheeses are vegetarian using vegetarian coagulants.
I recently discovered a cheese maker in the neighbouring town who home delivers cheeses like Feta, Halloumi, Mozarella, Ricotta, Mascarpone, Fromage Blanc, etc. For me, this is better than buying these at the store if I can find them at all. I’m happy to have it fresh cheese delivered to my door. My first order was for some Halloumi and Feta.
Halloumi fingers are very easy to make. The cheese usually comes preserved in brine. Drain that out and cut the block of cheese into “fingers”. Do not dry the cheese. The dampness helps the flour coating to stick. Heat the oil, roll the cheese fingers in plain or seasoned flour and fry till crisp and golden brown. That’s it.
I would advise against salting the flour as the cheese is already salty. You can leave the flour coating plain or season it with spices of your choice. I went with cumin and red chilli flakes. You can turn these Crispy Halloumi Fingers gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour of your choice. These fingers are best eaten as soon as they’re fried. They tend to become soft and chewy once they get cold.
You don’t have to deep fry Halloumi if you don’t like it that way. You can pan fry them too. They can be baked too but they turn out real crispy when fried. I personally like the best fried and that’s fine as I don’t make these fries all that often.
Serve them with any dipping sauce of your choice. Ketchup, sweet-sour chilli sauce, plain or seasoned Greek yogurt, sour cream, labneh, honey and mustard dip, Tzatziki, garlic mayo, or salsa are just some suggestions.