Vegetable cutlets are kitschy stalwarts of India’s wonderful railway cafeterias. I remember them as flat patties, usually in the shape of a teardrop or round, with specks of sooji or rava or farina. They were served up with ketchup and didn’t taste of any particular vegetable. Heck, they didn’t even taste particularly good. And they tasted the same no matter where you were in the country.
But they were usually available when you wanted something vegetarian and something hot, and sometimes that was good enough.
I have been on a mission to reduce the amount of sweets cooked in my kitchen and that means coming up with recipes to satisfy the snack-seeking Desi when we get home from work late in the afternoon. It’s either that or gobs of peanut butter and jelly on toast. Since that latter option doesn’t appeal to me as it does to him, I try when I can to come up with something different.
These vegetable cutlets are a great option because their lusciousness owes itself to the great spud and not fat. I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat it– potatoes are one of the best veggies around, and they appeal to almost anyone, child or adult. What usually gives potatoes a bad rep is the way they are prepared– deep-fried, or topped with tons of unhealthy cheese or sour cream. But find a healthy way to cook it, and you can have your potato and eat it too.
I’ve no time to chat today, so I’ll leave you with the recipe for these cutlets. They’re easy and they taste better than any vegetable cutlet I ever ate at a railway cafeteria. They’re also versatile– you could add to these grated carrots, green peppers…use your imagination. The best part– like I told Desi, it’s like eating your veggies for a snack.
- 3 medium russet potatoes, boiled and mashed. Leave their jackets on– potatoes hide most of their best nutrition right under the skin, so it’s never a good idea to peel them. Make sure, though, that the potato skins are in small bits.
- 1 cup green peas
- 1 cup green beans, chopped fairly fine
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- ¼ cup chopped cashewnuts
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp red chilli powder, like paprika or– if you want more heat– cayenne
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- Juice of 1 lemon or lime
- ¼ cup finely chopped coriander leaves
- ½ cup of bread crumbs (I used panko — Japanese bread crumbs that crisp up really well). Place in a plate for dredging the cutlets.
- 1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
- Spray oil
- Salt to taste
- Heat oil in a skillet. Add the cumin seeds, and, once they sputter, add the onions and garlic.
- Stir-fry the onions for about a couple of minutes until they start to soften.
- Add the cashew nuts and stir-fry for a minute.
- Add the chilli and turmeric powders, stir into the oil, then add the peas and green beans. Cook for another two or three minutes until they are quite tender.
- Add the mashed potatoes and stir well together. Add salt to taste, and lemon juice.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the coriander leaves and the flour. Set aside so the potatoes are cool enough to handle.
- Heat a cast-iron or non-stick skillet.
- Spray on a film of oil.
- Take a 1-inch ball of the potato mixture and flatten it into a disc.
- Dredge it through the panko crumbs so you have a fairly even coating on both sides.
- Place the cutlets one by one in the hot skillet, without overcrowding. Cook on each side until golden-brown.
- Serve hot with ketchup.
I’ll leave you with a picture of Bunny, a frequent visitor to our backyard (and my vegetable garden) in the summer months. How cute is she?