The street food phenomenon is great news for thrifty cooks like me, as it is full of inspiration. This is because most street food is fundamentally peasant food, and therefore cheap as chips to recreate at home.

Arancini (‘little oranges’) are Sicilian, deep-fried risotto balls, best enjoyed handheld. They’re incredibly simple, cheap, and tasty, and make great snacks or picnic items.

Whenever I make risotto, I often make deliberately too much and keep some back in the pan – the residual heat will help dry out the mix, which is necessary.

If you’re making risotto just for the purpose of arancini, keep the flavours simple – chicken stock and a handful of parmesan is all you need. The amounts below make enough for 8 risotto balls.

Left to chill overnight in the fridge, you simply shape the mix into balls a little larger than golf balls, then create a production line with plain flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs. You then deep fry them in oil until they’re a deep golden brown.

My one stipulation is that you use Panko breadcrumbs, found on the Japanese food shelf in the supermarket. They cost £1.60 per packet but you only use a third to make these, and they make an enormous difference.

Makes: 8


  • 1 handful risotto rice
  • 1 chicken stock cube, diluted in hot water
  • 1 onion
  • 1tsp garlic paste
  • 1 handful grated parmesan
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil

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