1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp hot or sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1 garlic clove, crushed
5 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
12 small globe artichokes
sunflower or Spanish olive oil, for deep frying
aioli for dipping
To make the batter, put the flour, salt, paprika, and garlic in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Gradually pour the water and olive oil into the well and mix in the flour mixture from the side, beating constantly, until all the flour is incorporated and a smooth batter forms. Let rest while preparing the artichokes.
Fill a bowl with cold water and add the lemon juice. Cut off the stalks of the artichokes. With your hands, break off all the leaves and carefully remove the choke (mass of silky hairs) by pulling it out with your fingers or scooping it out with a spoon. Immediately put the artichoke hearts in the acidulated water to prevent discoloration.
Cook the arichoke hearts in a pan of boiling salted water for 15 minutes, or until tender but firm, then drain well and pat dry with paper towel.
Heat enough sunflower or olive oil in a deep-fat fryer to 350-375F or until a cube of bread in 30 seconds. Spear an artichoke heart on a toothpick and dip into the batter, then drop the artichoke and toothpick into the hot oil. Cook the artichoke hearts, in batches to avoid overcrowding, for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon or draining basket and drain on paper towel.
Serve hot accompanied by a bowl of aioli for dipping.