Mark Hix certainly seems to know his Asian food – I’ve had my eye on the mutton chop curry recipe in his latest cookery book for some time now. I chanced upon his recipe for these lentil and potato cakes on a yellowing scrap of old Independent I’d ripped out around, ooh seven years ago. Gently spiced potato cakes filled with a piquant mango chutney and lentil mix and rolled in coconut, they are the perfect packed lunch fodder and definitely taste more intense the next day. I used fresh coconut instead of desiccated and added some bay and grated ginger to the potato mix. I think a spot of fresh green chilli in there wouldn’t go amiss, or if you can get hold of it, the weeniest dollop of Mr Naga hot chilli sauce.
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin (I used 1)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
600g floury potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
600ml vegetable stock
100g split lentils (dhal)
1 tbsp good quality mango chutney like Geeta’s which contains cardamom seeds
salt and freshly ground pepper
flour for dusting
1 large egg, beaten
4-5 tbsp dessicated coconut
vegetable oil for frying
- Gently cook the onion and the garlic (I also added an inch of grated ginger) in the vegetable oil until soft and mix in the spices. Add the potatoes and vegetable stock and season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or so or until the potatoes are just cooked (I added the bayleaf at this point).
- Turn off the heat and leave them in the pan. Meanwhile cook the lentils in boiling salted water for about 15 minutes until they are just cooked. Drain them and return to the pan.
- Pour the liquid from the potatoes into the lentils, leaving the potatoes to drain in the sieve and cook the lentils on a medium heat until the liquid has almost evaporated. Add the mango chutney and continue cooking until the mixture is quite dry, stirring every so often, then leave to cool.
- Return the potatoes to the pan and evaporate any excess water by heating over a low flame, then mash them coarsely. Leave to cool.
- Once the potatoes are cool, mould them into 8 round flat patties, about 1 1/2 -2cm deep. Make a hole in the middle with your thumb and put about a teaspoon of the lentil mixture in the centre. Carefully mould the edges over the middle and re-shape with the help of a palette knife or spatula.
- Have four dishes ready, one with the flour, one with the egg, one with the coconut and a spare one for the finished patties.
- First put the patties through the flour, dusting off the excess, then through the egg and finally through the coconut. They may need reshaping before cooking.
- Heat about 1-1/2 cm vegetable oil in a frying pan and cook the patties on a low heat for 3-4 minutes on each side until nicely coloured. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with any good quality Indian pickle like aubergine or mango.