These Indian style fish cakes are packed with the amazing flavours of Goa
I was never a big fan of fish cakes until I came across a hand written recipe in a cookbook my grandfather used to keep. I happened upon it by chance one day while cleaning out his basement and after dusting it off, decided to give some of the recipe a try. Like most of his recipes, this was an Italian recipe which presumably was handed down to him from his parents or grandparents who immigrated to the US from Italy in 1850.
Most recipes for fish cakes that I have come across ask for egg. The egg helps the fish cakes stay together. Personally I find that this gives them a spongy texture that I’m not that crazy about. This recipe, however does it differently. 200g of cod is placed in a food processor and blended to a paste which helps cement the fish cakes together.
With a little experimentation, I came up with this rather Indian version. I love Goan food so I have included many of the herbs and spices that are popular in the region.
The optional red pepper sauce that accompanies the dish is one I’ve made as long as I can remember.
I used to serve it with Mexican dishes but all the ingredients are also used in Indian cooking so it works really well here.
Serves 4 – 6
for the sauce
3 red bell peppers
1/2 onion – finely chopped
3 cloves garlic – smashed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon ghee or butter
one tablespoon cumin
1 cup unsalted chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
900g (2 pounds) cod or another meaty fish
3 tablespoons ghee
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
5 cloves garlic very finely chopped
1 inch ginger – very finely chopped
3 spring onion finely chopped
2 to 5 fresh green chillies finely chopped
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
Juice of two limes
1 small bunch fresh coriander leaves – finely chopped
Sea salt to taste
Start first by making your sauce – if making.
Blacken the skins of the bell peppers over an open flame or place under the grill.
Once blackened, place the bell peppers in a plastic bag and tie shut for about five minutes.
Once you’ve done this, you should be able to remove the skins easily. It is not essential that every bit of skin is removed.
Slice the peppers into four parts and remove any seeds.
Roughly cut the peppers, onion and garlic.
Heat a small frying pan over medium low heat and melt the butter in it before adding the peppers, onion and garlic.
Allow to fry very slowly for about fifteen minutes. The onion should turn translucent. Do not burn.
Now add the cumin powder and chicken stock and simmer until the stock has reduces by one third.
Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth. Return to the pan and keep warm.
for the fish cakes
Take about 200g of the fish and place it in a food processor. Blend until the fish turns to a smooth paste.
Cut the rest of the fish into 1/4 inch cubes.
Put all of the fish in a bowl and mix with the garlic, gingers, spring onions, chillies and coriander leaves. Let rest while you make your cumin and fennel powder.
Place the fennel seeds, cumin seeds and black peppercorns in a dry frying pan and heat over medium heat. Move the spices around in the pan so that they roast evenly.
When the spices begin to smoke, remove them from the pan and pulverize into a find powder with a spice grinder.
Add this spice mixture along with the lime juice and coriander leaves and form into small round or oblong fish cakes.
Heat a large frying pan and add the oil and ghee to it.
When the ghee and oil is nice and hot, add the curry leaves and let sizzle for about 15 seconds before adding the fish cakes. Fry for about five minutes over medium high heat turning regularly until cooked through.
Serve together with the warmed sauce and/or a couple of lime wedges.
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