One day while I was teaching, I kept thinking about how I would rather be home, working on a new recipe. Once I got home though, I couldn’t peal myself off of the couch.  Isn’t it amazing how you always want to do something other than what you immedietly have to do?

Anyway, hubby called to check in and said ever so casually, “I’ll take off at five today”.

Ahhh! It was already 4:30!

I wanted to try out a whole new recipe for our dinner that night.

I wanted to make a dessert with all the blueberries I got ’cause they were buy-one-get-one-free  ( I couldn’t resist the freebies).

I also wanted to set a pretty table too.

How was I supposed to do all this in 3o minutes?!!

I remembered a new recipe for vegetable cutlets I had seen while flipping through Madhu Gadia’s New Indian Home Cooking,  one of my cookbook finds from our library.  At the time I was searching for appetizers for a dinner party next week and saw the recipe for vegetarian cutlets.  It looks fast and easy.

So I whipped it up in literally 30 minutes.  Most of the time I was also working on our dessert of blueberry muffins.

This is a great healthy version of a deep fried Indian street food favorite of Hubby’s.  I’ve included both a pan-fried version and a baked version. Feel free to deep fry if you wish.

 

left: pan-fried, right: oven broiled

The verdict:  Hubby dove right in and didn’t say much while he was at it.  It’s becoming a trend for dinner time in our home to be silent. It makes it a bit boring for me, but Hubby says  the less he talks the more he’s enjoying the food, so I didn’t mind.  After he was done with his cutlets (and one of mine too), he told me how he used to eat vegetable cutlets on the train to Punjab when he was younger.

Every other summer, the whole family would travel from Bombay to Punjab on the overnight train.  The train journey was 28 hours so Hubby’s mom (we call her Mummy-ji) would pack food for everyone to eat for the next day and a half.

The train they always took was called Jammu Tawi (which is the name of  a place in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir).  It took off from Bombay Central Train Station at eight o-clock in the morning.  They would travel to Ambala, a small town in Haryana (a neighboring state to Punjab) the next morning.  From Ambala they took a bus to go to Chandigarh.  From Chandigarh they took a bus to Ropar and from Ropar they took a bus or a taxi to go to Mummy-ji’s village of Thona and arrived just in time for lunch.

left: from Bombay to Ambala, Haryana right: from Ambala to Ropar, Punjab

Mummy-ji always made pooris because they would last all day, along with a few dry vegetable dishes like aloo subji or chole.  The seating was like a banquet, so six people could sit together.  All the six people also had a place to sleep.   There were over-head cots which pulled down for everyone to sleep on. One person would sleep on the lowest cot, where everyone would sit during the day.  The backrest of the banquet pulled down to sleep another person, and up top was a third cot. This set up was on both sides of the banquet.   This was called a “three tier car”.

“We used to love going on the train” Hubby says.  “It was a big part of the fun.  But then it got really tedious as we got older.  Traveling in second class-three tier, is very painful. When you get down the next day, you are very exhausted.”  You don’t sleep well on the train. The train also had no window covers and we used to go during the summers, so hot air is blowing on you all the time.  At every station,  we used to get down and explore because each one felt so different with new sites to see and people selling different things!”.

“During the afternoon, you took out sheets of newspaper and put it on the seat.  If anyone was sitting near you, you would invite them over to join in for some lunch too.  This was a great way to meet people and connect with others.  Mummy-ji would pull out the bag of pooris and the three-layer lunch boxes with all the different veggie dishes she had packed the night before and we’d have a feast.”

The packed food lasted that afternoon and the evening, so for breakfast the next morning they would order from the train kitchen.  They could have an omelette or vegetable cutlets.  Hubby always ordered vegetable cutlets.  They were deep fried, wrapped in aluminum foil and served with spicy tomato sauce.

When he saw we were having this for dinner he was thrilled!  They make a great to-go snack and he had leftover’s for his lunch the next day.

 

To make the cutlets:

1. Put the whole potatoes in a pot of boiling water (use enough water so the potatoes are fully submerged).  Boil for 10 minutes or just until tender.

Helpful hint: Do not let them cook for too long as they will soak in too much liquid and will make it difficult to form the cutlets.

  • If using a pressure cooker, put the potatoes in the cooker and cover them with water.  Lock on the top and let it cook for 1 wistle. Then, put the cooker in the sink and  run cold water over the top of it until all the pressure releases drain the potatoes in a colander and allow to cool.

2. While the potatoes are boiling, steam the chopped vegetables for about 5 minutes, until tender.

Helpful hint for steaming: If you don’t have a steamer or cannot be bothered to use it, put the diced vegetables in a microwavable bowl.  Cover the top completely with plastic wrap, puncture two holes to allow some steam out and microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Allow the steamed vegetables to come to room temperature so they are easy enough to handle. You can move the steamed vegetables to another bowl to speed cooling.

 

3. While the potatoes and veggies are cooling, make the bread crumbs.  Put the slices of bread in the food processor fitted with the blade attachment (you may need to slice them up so they fit in your size food processor).  Run the food processor until you have a fine grain of bread crumbs.  Transfer to a bowl to be used later.

Helpful hint for making bread crumbs: I like to save the ends of bread loaves as Hubby and I don’t like to eat them.  I store them in the freezer and use them for making bread crumbs.  Making bread crumbs at home is quick and cheaper.  It makes no sense to buy them at the grocery store.

 (imagine a picture of me making bread crumbs)

4.  Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and mash them.

Helpful hint for peeling potatoes quickly: I find using the vegetable peeler slow and tedious. So, I scrap all the skin off by running my nails down the potato, which takes off all the skin.  Then I run them through my food processor using the grater attachment.  Once the potatoes are grated, transfer them to a large mixing bowl and give them a quick mash or just use them peeled.  Grated potatoes will work just as good as mashed.

 5. When the steamed veggies are cool enough to handle, add them to the mashed potatoes along with the salt, coriander, cayenne, mango powder, Garam Masala and chopped cilantro leaves. Use your hands to mix well.

*If you will be baking instead of pan-frying:

  • Turn the broiler on high and move the oven rack to the second highest position.
  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray to keep the cutlets from sticking. Keep aside.

6. Shape the mixture into balls or ovals that fit in the palm of your hand.  They should be no bigger than three or four bites worth. Transfer them to the baking sheet and continue to shape more cutlets till all the mixture has been used.

7. Roll the shaped balls in the bread crumbs so they are completely coated.

If pan-frying the cutlets:

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and place as many cutlets as will fit in your skillet so that they still lay flat and almost touch. Fry them for 8 minutes or until them become golden brown.  Flip and fry the other side.  Remove and place on a cooling rack (place a kitchen towel or paper towel under the cooling rack to catch any crumbs and oil drippings)

If baking the cutlets:

  • place the cutlets on the baking sheet and put into the oven.  Broil for 5-8 minutes or until they turn golden brown and their aroma fills the kitchen.

Serve hot with sides of spicy and tangy green chutney, refreshing cucumber yogurt or Hubby’s favorite from the Indian store,Maggi Hot & Sweet Tomato Chilli Sauce.

If you try the recipe, let me know how it goes.  Write me a comment or send me an email here.

 

Vegetable Cultets

Subji Cutlets

Adapted from New Indian Home Cooking by Madhu Gadia

Ingredients

4 medium potatoes (1 1/2 pounds)

1 1/2 cups finely diced mixed frozen vegetables (I used a mix of green beans, peas, carrots and corn)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

1 tablespoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

1 teaspoon mango powder

1 teaspoon Garam Masala powder

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, washed and stems removed (I just grabbed a handful of cilantro stems and chopped them up, no need to be too exact)

5 or 6 slices of bread to make 1 cup of bread crumbs (or use store bought bread crumbs)

1/4 cup vegetable oil (for shallow frying only)

 

Equipment

food processor (optional)

pressure cooker or large pot with a lid

large skillet (if pan-frying)

baking sheet and parchment paper (if baking)

 

Directions

1. Put the whole potatoes in a pot of boiling water (use enough water so the potatoes are fully submerged).  Boil for 10 minutes or just until tender.

 

Helpful hint: Do not let them cook for too long as they will soak in too much liquid and will make it difficult to form the cutlets.

  • If using a pressure cooker, put the potatoes in the cooker and cover them with water.  Lock on the top and let it cook for 1 wistle. Then, put the cooker in the sink and  run cold water over the top of it until all the pressure releases

drain the potatoes in a colander and allow to cool.

 

2. While the potatoes are boiling, steam the chopped vegetables for about 5 minutes, until tender.

 

Helpful hint for steaming: If you don’t have a steamer or cannot be bothered to use it, put the diced vegetables in a microwavable bowl.  Cover the top completely with plastic wrap, puncture two holes to allow some steam out and microwave on high for 5 minutes.

 

Allow the steamed vegetables to come to room temperature so they are easy enough to handle. You can move the steamed vegetables to another bowl to speed cooling.

 

3. While the potatoes and veggies are cooling, make the bread crumbs.  Put the slices of bread in the food processor fitted with the blade attachment (you may need to slices them up so they fit in your size food processor).  Run the food processor until you have a fine grain of bread crumbs.  Transfer to a bowl to be used later.

 

Helpful hint for making bread crumbs: I like to save the ends of bread loaves as Hubby and I don’t like to eat them.  I store them in the freezer and use them for making bread crumbs.  Making bread crumbs at home is quick and cheaper.  It makes no sense to buy them at the grocery store.

 

4.  Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and mash them.

Helpful hint for peeling potatoes quickly: I find using the vegetable peeler slow and tedious. So, I scrap all the skin off by running my nails down the potato, which takes off all the skin.  Then I run them through my food processor using the grater attachment.  Once the potatoes are grated, transfer them to a large mixing bowl and give them a quick mash or just use them peeled.  Grated potatoes will work just as good as mashed.

 

5. When the steamed veggies are cool enough to handle, add them to the mashed potatoes along with the salt, coriander, cayenne, mango powder, Garam Masala and chopped cilantro leaves. Use your hands to mix well.

*If you will be baking instead of pan-frying:

  • Turn the broiler on high and move the oven rack to the second highest position.
  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray to keep the cutlets from sticking. Keep aside.

6. Shape the mixture into balls or ovals that fit in the palm of your hand.  They should be no bigger than three or four bites worth. Transfer them to the baking sheet and continue to shape more cutlets till all the mixture has been used.

7. Roll the shaped balls in the bread crumbs so they are completely coated.

If pan-frying the cutlets:

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and place as many cutlets as will fit in your skillet so that they still lay flat and almost touch. Fry them for 8 minutes or until them become golden brown.  Flip and fry the other side.  Remove and place on a cooling rack (place a kitchen towel or paper towel under the cooling rack to catch any crumbs and oil drippings)

If baking the cutlets:

  • place the cutlets on the baking sheet and put into the oven.  Broil for 5-8 minutes or until they turn golden brown and their aroma fills the kitchen.

 

Serve hot with sides of tangy green chutney, refreshing cucumber yogurt or Hubby’s favorite from the Indian store, Maggi Hot & Sweet Tomato Chilli Sauce.

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