The unofficial mating season has begun! The behaviour of my feathered and pawed friends in my backyard tells me that Autumn is just the beginning of Spring!
A squirrel in my backyard thumps his tail fiercely calling out to his ladylove. The tailor bird lets out melodious tweets changing his plumage from dull to bright orange and flirts aggressively with his not-as-pretty mate. Funnily enough it turns out that a study shows that Autumn is the official mating season for sheep! It is also the most festive season of the year. Why? Perhaps a deeper relationship than just coincidence. I believe it is because we rejoice when Nature changes colour giving way to new life.
What is it like in your part of the world? Are you celebrating the scent of dry grass or pine cones? I am. We are gorging on fresh, soft and juicy pears, and biting on not so ripe guavas. Jr.H however wanted something better – crunchy piping hot veggies covered in a crisp crust of bread crumbs. The last part is Jr.P’s favourite. I do not make these very often but on the rare occasions I indulge, I like them accompanied with a fair amount of crudités and a good helping of hot peppered tomato soup. The image has remained with me from a long way back when my Mum had some friends over and we served them vegetable cutlets and soup. I end up associating the soup and cutlets with laughter and chats and of course friends, which is my I make this very often when I have people over. It helps when P, Jr.H and Jr.P polish off their plates in no time at all and literally hover around for the next batch to come out of the frying pan. It would be no fun to cook if I did not see the fare being lapped up. I saved two of mine for the picture before I finally dug into them. Now you know why there is only one cutlet in the picture.
Recipe: Vegetable Cutlets
Time: 5 minutes to fry and another 30 minutes to prepare the mix from scratch
Yield: About 12 to 15 depending on size
Fresh bread crumbs – 1 cup
(I grind the top and bottom slices whenever I purchase bread and store them in a bottle which I refrigerate and use when needed. Freeze if you might not use them up in a week.)
Potatoes, boiled and peeled – 4 medium
Bread slices, ground – 2 OR 1 ground pav bun
Assorted vegetables such as string beans, carrot, coriander (a tsp.), very finely chopped – 1/2 cup
Green peas, steamed or boiled and roughly smashed – 1 tbsp.
Beets – Optional. I avoid as it results in a deep red colour which I find unpleasant.
Cashews, roughly chopped into small bits – 1 tbsp.
Raisins, roughly chopped into small bits – 1 tbsp.
Water – About 1/2 cup
Cornflour – 2 tsp.
Salt to taste
Oil to fry
Grate boiled potatoes while warm into a large mixing bowl. Add the ground bread slices and vegetables. Using a potato masher or pav-bhaji masher bring all the ingredients together mashing them roughly.
Use your hands to form flat cutlets in sizes and shapes of your choice. I make them into spheres about 2 inches in diameter and flatten them to 1/2″ (inch) thick discs.
Heat enough oil to a moderately hot temperature to deep fry one or two cutlets at a time. I prefer starting with one at a time.
Make a paste of the cornflour and water. Dip each cutlet first into the solution and then into the bowl containing bread crumbs so that the surface is generously coated. Set aside and repeat with the rest of the vegetable mixture.
Fry one by one till they are done. Serve hot with crudités tomato soup.
When I have guests I serve crudités as this way one need not indulge on fattening cutlets. Having some of the crudités in between ensures that the mouth stays fresh and the palate satisfied. That way the health conscious lot have their share of fun too by munching on just one cutlet and moving on raw veggies. The dip becomes optional if you have some chat masala on the side. In my case the soup is the dip!
Do your kids eat the whole thing or like my son tear off the crispy crust (sometimes) and leave the insides for you?