This is a recipe for traditional Indian potato cakes – mashed potatoes delicately spiced and filled with peas and then pan-fried until golden and crispy. They are often served with chutneys, so rummage through the pantry and get some of your favourites out. I prefer to stuff the mash with peas, but you can stir them through if you like. It’s worth rolling them in semolina to get them really crispy, but they still taste great without.
Recipe for Aloo Tikkis (serves 4 as a snack)
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus cooling
Cook time: 30 minutes
400g (14oz) potatoes, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp ground turmeric rind, pared in large pieces, and juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp peeled and finely chopped fresh root ginger
Really good pinch of chilli powder
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
100g (31/2oz) fresh or frozen peas, run under boiling water
3 tbsp semolina
My Secret: I like to pop my tikkis in the fridge for about 30 minutes after I’ve formed them, to give them time to firm up so that they hold their shape better after frying.
1. Fill a saucepan with cold water, add the potatoes with the turmeric, a few large pieces of lemon rind and a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
2. Drain the potatoes and leave to steam and dry out in the colander while you temper the spices and the holy trinity of garlic, ginger and chilli.
3. Gently heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to jump out of the pan, stir through the garlic, ginger and chilli powder.
4. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and pour the tempered spices over the top. Add a good pinch of salt, squeeze over the lemon juice and stir in the fresh coriander. Taste and add more chilli powder if you like it fiery.
5. Using a fork, mash the potatoes and spread them out so that they cool quickly. When they are cool enough to handle, start making the tikkis by putting around a tablespoon full of mash in your hand and flattening it out. Get around a teaspoonful of the blanched peas and put them in the centre. Wrap the mashed potatoes around them as if the peas were a stuffing. Flatten it slightly, making sure the peas don't push their way through. Continue to make tikkis until you have used up all the mash and peas.
6. Gently heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan. Roll the tikkis in the semolina and pan-fry, in batches, on all sides until golden and crispy. Keep the cooked ones warm in the oven while you fry the rest. Serve with your favourite chutney such as tomato chutney.