Winter Vegetable Stew
The spices in this hearty vegetable stew are classic flavours of North African cooking – a mix of...
2 tsp salt
5 Tbs rapeseed (canola) oil
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
125g fresh tuna trimmings or chunks, bones and skin removed
125g potatoes, peeled and cut into 5 cm cubes
225g onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 green chillies
12–15 curry leaves
6 green cardamom pods
9 cm cinnamon stick
2 tsp minced garlic
8 cm piece pandan leaf
1 tsp chilli powder
3 tsp unroasted curry powder
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
Juice of 1 lime
100g plain (all-purpose) flour
1 medium egg
100g Panko breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Boil 1 litre water in a deep pan and add 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons rapeseed (canola) oil and 1/2 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns. Add the tuna chunks and simmer for 8–10 minutes until just cooked, then drain and mash with a fork.
Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a separate saucepan and cover with cold water. Season generously with salt, bring to the boil and cook for about 16 minutes, until completely tender. Drain and allow to cool, then mash well.
Place the onion, green chilli and curry leaves in a food processor and blitz to make a coarse paste.
Preheat a heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons rapeseed oil. When hot, add the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick and cook for 1 minute.
Add the garlic and pandan leaf, and continue to cook until the garlic is slightly browned. Add the onion mixture and cook for 5–6 minutes until the mixture has softened and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Stir through the chilli powder, unroasted curry powder and ground turmeric, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5–6 minutes. Add the tuna and cook for a final 10 minutes to meld all of the flavours together.
Remove the tuna mixture from the heat and add the potatoes, mixing together with a fork to break up any large chunks. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns, lime juice and 1 teaspoon salt. Check the seasoning, adding more salt or lime if needed. Allow to cool completely.
Divide the cooled tuna mixture into 50g portions and roll into balls between your hands. Combine the flour and egg in a medium bowl with enough water to make a thick batter, similar to the consistency of custard.
Place the Panko breadcrumbs in a food processor and blitz briefly to create a finer texture, then transfer to a separate medium-sized bowl. Dip the cutlets in the batter, shake off any excess then transfer to the bowl with the breadcrumbs and toss to coat completely.
When ready to cook, preheat a deep-fryer to 170 C. Alternatively, fill a heavy-based pan two-thirds full of vegetable oil and set over a high heat. Cook the cutlets in batches for around 4 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
Drain on paper towels, season with salt and serve straight away.
Mackerel and egg cutlets:
For this variation, substitute mackerel for tuna in the method. Boil 3 eggs in boiling water for 9 minutes if they have been in the fridge, 8 minutes if they are room temperature and plunge into cold water. Peel the eggs and cut each into quarters lengthways, then encase a piece of egg in the centre of each ball before coating in breadcrumbs.
We use Panko breadcrumbs for their crisp texture, but you can swap these for homemade breadcrumbs, as long as they’ve had plenty of time to dry out.
For a healthier version, you can flatten these into patties and pan-fry them with or without breadcrumbs. However, if skipping the breadcrumbs, coat the fish cakes in a fine dusting of cornflour (cornstarch) or plain (all-purpose) flour before frying in 1–2 tablespoons oil heated in a non-stick pan over a medium heat, until well coloured on both sides.
Credits: This is an edited extract from Hoppers: The Cookbook by Karan Gokani, published by Quadrille, RRP $60.00. Available in stores nationally from 19 October 2022. Photography by Ryan Wijayaratne.
Photo Credits: This is an edited extract from Hoppers: The Cookbook by Karan Gokani, published by Quadrille, RRP $60.00. Available in stores nationally from 19 October 2022. Photography by Ryan Wijayaratne.