South Asian Snacks: Spicy Potato and Green Chilli Cutlets with Mint Chutney

The British left the subcontinent over 60 years ago, but remnants of their rule can still be seen in the daily lives of residents of their former colony. One such relic is the concept of evening tea. The British are well known for their afternoon and evening teas, where spreads such as scones with clotted cream, mini cucumber sandwiches and various petit fours accompany a hot cup of tea. In many areas of India and Pakistan, the family gets together for tea in the evening to discuss the affairs of the day or friends meet up for coffee to catch wind of news climbing through the grapevine. All such discussions can only take place over food, but instead of scones and cucumber sandwiches, there are vegetable fritters (pakoras), chana chaat (chickpea salad) and potato cutlets. These snacks gain even more popularity during the monsoon season, when people gather on their terraces and patios to enjoy the rain, while sipping their tea and chowing down their favorite manna.

Spicy Potato and Green Chilli Cutlets with Mint Chutney

Cutlets, world over are mainly made of meat, but in South Asia potato cutlets have overrun their meat counterparts in popularity. The soft potato filling makes it a light snack to eat during the evening. Called chops in England, schnitzels in Europe and Kotleta in Russia, essentially they are all breaded snacks fried in oil and served with the sauce of your choice. My recipe is a reflection of the flavors I enjoy most, spicy potato cutlets served with a cooling mint chutney. The refreshing effects of mint help to counter the fiery taste of the cutlets.

Spicy Potato and Green Chilli Cutlets with Mint Chutney

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE CUTLETS:

  • 4 medium sized potatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp paprika powder
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 5 green chillies, chopped
  • 1 bunch coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ glass milk
  • ½ cup flour

FOR THE MINT CHUTNEY

  • 4 cups chopped mint
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-3 green chillis, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

PREPARATION:

FOR THE CUTLETS

  • Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 40 minutes or till soft
  • Remove from water and let them cool for about 10 minutes
  • Peel the skin off the potatoes and using your hands mash them completely (You can use a fork or any other utensil, but I prefer to use my hands to break them down completely, so that there are no lumps)
  • Add in the shallots, spices, green chillies and coriander and mix well till all the ingredients are combined
  • Pour a dash of olive oil and mix well (The olive oil helps to form the patties with ease as they do not stick to your hands)
  • Spoon a lump of the mixture into your hands and shape into a ball
  • Using the palm of your hands, flatten the ball into a round patty (about 1 inch in thickness), smoothening the edges all the while. Repeat with the rest of the mixture
  • Rest them on a kitchen towel before crumbing them
  • Beat the milk into the egg and set aside
  • Coat the patty in the flour, shaking off the excess, dip it into the egg mixture and finally coat it with the breadcrumbs generously. Make sure all sides are covered
  • Heat oil in a pan and lightly fry the cutlets till they are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side
  • Place them on a kitchen towel before serving to soak in the excess oil

FOR THE MINT CHUTNEY

  • Mince the chopped mint in a food processor till very fine
  • Add the rest of the ingredients into the food processor and blitz till all the ingredients are mixed well
  • The consistency of the chutney is your prerogative. Add or subtract the amount of water depending on whether you want the chutney to be thick or runny

Spicy Potato and Green Chilli Cutlets with Mint Chutney

Serve the cutlets hot accompanied by the mint chutney. You can also make the cutlets in advance and freeze them, simply defrost them and fry them right before serving. The end result should be a soft center and a crunchy exterior that will make your family gathering session even more pleasurable. For a different twist to the cutlet, place them between warm burger buns with mint chutney, sliced onions, cucumbers and tomatoes and you have yourself a vegetarian bun kebab, a popular hawker style dish in South Asia. One recipe, many variations.

Spicy Potato and Green Chilli Cutlets with Mint Chutney