This is a wonderfully tasty dish that can be made a day ahead, if necessary. If you don’t have shrimp on hand, good quality lump crab meat could work, as well. It comes from a beautiful book on Indian cooking by Ruta Kahate, 5 Spices, 50 Dishes. They go great with a number of different dipping sauces.
You will need:
- 2-3 cups canola oil, divided
- 1/2 yellow onion, minced
- 3 small green serrano chiles, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1/2 t cayenne
- 1/2 t ground turmeric
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled, cut into pieces, and boiled until tender (leftover mashed potatoes can be used in a pinch)
- 8 oz. shrimp, peeled
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a small skillet over medium heat, and lightly saute the onions, chiles, and ginger until the onion is golden. Be careful not to add too much oil – the small amount helps the cakes hold together. Add the cilantro, cayenne, and turmeric and saute another minute and then set aside to cool.
2. Mash the sweet potato.
3. Coarsely chop the shrimp and combine with the potato, onion mixture, egg, and a little salt. Make a very tiny patty and saute it in a small skillet to test the seasonings. Adjust salt or other seasonings to taste if necessary.
4. Wet your palms before forming the patties to prevent sticking. Divide the mixture into 12 balls, then flatten them into discs. They will be roughly 1 1/2 inch in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Pat the cakes in bread crumbs, coating them well on all sides. The cakes will be loose in texture – this is a good thing. It ensures they will be moist and tender.
5. Heat enough oil to come halfway up the sides of the cakes in a medium skillet. When the oil begins to shimmer, gently place in one layer of cakes. Do not crowd. Cook 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, then flip and repeat on the other side. Remove the cakes to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat for the remaining cakes. Serve immediately.
Note: These may be formed and refrigerated a day in advance, layered on wax paper and covered with plastic wrap. Fry directly before serving.