Vegetarian cutlets

In the west  – a cutlet is some meaty thing fried in breadcrumbs right?

For the Tamils a cutlet is a roundy ball thing stuffed with fish and fried in breadcrumbs. We serve them as an entrée at a dinner party. Any leftovers are added  to the curry dishes to be served during the main meal.

Cutlets can also be served in the afternoon to be eaten with a hot cup of sweat milk tea. Both complement each other well. So let’s say cutlets could be our equivalent to scones with jam and cream or cucumber sandwiches. Drool.

So a few days ago when I had friends coming over to my place around 5ish, I decided to serve vege cutlets and chai. As one of my guests was vegan – it was perfect.

My guests found it quite amusing when I said ‘would u like a cutlet?’ and held out a plate of round golden balls instead of meat.

While traditionally cutlets are made with fish or prawns, the vegetarian variety are not uncommon in a Tamil home.

This recipe may look a little difficult, but it’s not too bad – just a bit ingredient heave.If you have any questions I am happy to ask mum for you.



  • 1 medium red onion chopped finely
  • 4 green chillies chopped finely
  • 8 curry leaves chopped medium fine
  • 1/4 of a big capsicum cut into small pieces
  • 4 cloves of garlic diced finely
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 green plantain grated (to keep the firmness)
  • 2 tblsp coriander chopped finely
  • 1 tblsp ginger grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 potatoes boiled and grated
  • 1/2 cup frozen green beans boiled for 1 min
  • 1/2 cup carrot grated
  • 1 tsp crushed chillie flakes (more if you would like to increase the spice factor)
  • 2 cups olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of bread crumbs (more if required)
  • 1 cup of white flour (you would normally use an egg white beaten well – but as I am making a vegan dish – white flower and water will work)


  1. Slowly temper the capsicum, onion, curry leaves and garlic in 1 tbl oil, till the onion is golden brown.
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. You can use a mixing spoon, but using your hands will ensure all the ingredients are mixed in well.
  3. Grab 1 hand full of the mixture and roll a ball about 3-4 cm wide. At this point you can choose to keep them as round balls or flatten them slightly (see  photo).
  4. Continue doing this till the mixture is finished. You may have 20 balls, or more.
  5. Don’t worry too much about how big the balls are, just try and make sure they are all the same size.
  6. Place a cup of white flour in a mixing bowl and add enough water till the flour is covered by about 1/2 cm of water. Stir. This will now be your vegan substitute for egg whites. If you can use eggs, then place the beaten egg white in a mixing bowl.
  7. Add the bread crumbs in another bowl/dish.
  8. Dip the cutlet ball in the flour/egg bowl so that it’s coated in the mixture.
  9. Dip it in breadcrumbs bowl till it’s coated completely.
  10. Set aside.
  11. Continue till all the cutlet balls are done.
  12. Add the remaining oil to a shallow fry pan (see photo below).
  13. Start heating the oil and add a few breadcrumbs to see how they cook. If they quickly turn golden brown then the temperature is right. If they burn quickly then the oil is too hot.
  14. Deep fry the cutlets. The cutlet must be completely immersed in the oil.  You may fry 3 or 4 at a time. Maybe less, depending on how big the bowl is.
  15. Once they turn a golden brown, remove them and pat the oil out on a paper towel.
  16. Serve with wine or tea.


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