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.
INGREDIENTS FOR 20 CUTLETS
- 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)
- Slowly temper the capsicum, onion, curry leaves and garlic in 1 tbl oil, till the onion is golden brown.
- 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.
- 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).
- Continue doing this till the mixture is finished. You may have 20 balls, or more.
- Don’t worry too much about how big the balls are, just try and make sure they are all the same size.
- 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.
- Add the bread crumbs in another bowl/dish.
- Dip the cutlet ball in the flour/egg bowl so that it’s coated in the mixture.
- Dip it in breadcrumbs bowl till it’s coated completely.
- Set aside.
- Continue till all the cutlet balls are done.
- Add the remaining oil to a shallow fry pan (see photo below).
- 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.
- 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.
- Once they turn a golden brown, remove them and pat the oil out on a paper towel.
- Serve with wine or tea.