Crispy potato and chickpea patties, spiced with tumeric, mustard seeds, and garam masala, with a side of a quick and easy, sweet and tangy tomato chutney, spiked with chilli. Loosely based on the delicious Indian street-food Aloo Tikki, these potato cakes are ideal as an appetizer, light lunch, or as part of an Indian feast.
As the weather gets colder I spend more and more time thinking about potatoes. These glorious tubers are so incredibly versatile and there are very few potato-based foods that aren’t deeply comforting. In fact I’m struggling to think of any. Plus potatoes are excellent sources of Vitamin C and B6, as well as potassium and iron, and are also, most importantly, delicious.
My potato musings got me thinking about how beautifully Indian spices compliment potato – I had been experimenting with gluten free samosas (coming to a blog post soon!) and was having trouble not eating all of the filling before the pastry was ready. This lead me to think about potato cakes, and I came across Aloo Tikki; a traditional Indian Street food made by frying little patties of spiced mashed potatoes and chillies, and serving with an array of chutneys.
My version is a little chunkier – I’ve add some chickpeas for a little more flavour and protein, and the potato gets only a quick mash. Red onion is fried slowly so that it’s sweet and caramelized, and curry leaves, black mustard seeds, garlic, green chilli, turmeric, and garam masala make for a spicy and aromatic delight.
You could eat these with any manner of chutney; mango would be delicious, or a zingy coriander chutney. I have a recipe for a cooling mint raita in my previous sweetcorn fritter post which would also work wonderfully. But, on what was a grey and drizzly day, I wanted something a bit more fiery, and a warm and spicy tomato chutney was just the thing. It’s sweet and tangy, fragrant from curry leaves and garlic, hot from green chillies, and honestly I am quite excited about exploring was else it can be dolloped on (I’m thinking vegan burgers, roasted vegetables, chips, poppadums, wraps… the list goes on).
How to Make Indian Potato Cakes
One of the keys to a successful potato cake is not to overcook the potatoes. You want them to be just tender enough to stick a fork in them, any more and they’ll start to take on water and you could end up with a sloppy cake. Peel your spuds and chop them into 4–5 cm chunks (try to get them all roughly the same size). Place in a saucepan and submerge in water, add plenty of salt, and bring to the boil, then simmer. Cooking time will vary based on the variety of potato and the size of your chunks, so check frequently after about 7 minutes until they are forkable. Drain and rinse in cold water, then leave to cool in the saucepan with the lid off.
While your potatoes are boiling away, put a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat with a tablespoon of oil, and once hot, add curry leaves, black mustard seeds and diced red onion. Fry for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, then turn the heat down slightly and cook for 10–15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions are soft and browning. You don’t want them to burn as they’ll taste bitter, but you do want them to caramelize at the edges. Add the garlic and green chilli, followed by the turmeric and garam masala, cook for another few minutes and then remove from the heat.
Add the chickpeas to the spiced onions, and coarsely mash using a potato masher. It doesn’t need to be smooth but you don’t want too many whole chickpeas as the cakes will struggle to hold together. Add the potatoes and mash a few more times, just to crush the potatoes rather than mash them smooth. At this point I like to get my hands in there to break up any large potato lumps and mix everything together. It should look like very overcooked and rather unappetizing scrambled egg.
Sieve in a couple of tablespoons of gram flour (or corn flour), and the coriander if using, and mix again with your hands. The mixture will be more or less dry depending on your potato variety and cooked-ness. Squash some together in your hands and if it holds together then it’s ready to shape into patties. If it crumbles at the slightest touch, add a little water to the mixture until it holds.
You can make the patties as large or small as you like – mine were on the smaller end of the scale, about two generous bites. Simply squish a small handful of mixture between your palms, then press around the edges to shape into a disc. Place on a tray or plate and repeat with the remaining mixture.
You can fry straight away, but I find they hold together better if you’ve refrigerated them for at least half an hour before – ideal if you want to make them ahead of time as you can just bung them in the fridge until you’re ready. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Once it’s very hot, add a few patties to the pan. Cook for 2–3 minutes until the underside is beautifully golden, then flip and cook for 2–3 minutes on the other side. If your potatoes have soaked up all the oil, add a little more when you flip them. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and repeat with the remaining potato cakes.
How to Make the Spicy Tomato Chutney
I find it easiest to prepare the chutney ingredients while the potatoes cakes are in the fridge, then it’s all ready to cook at the same time. Finely slice two cloves of garlic, and two or three finger chillies. You can always reduce this to one if you are a little heat averse; two will give you a nice kick, and three is for chilli fiends. Halve the tomatoes and remove the seeds, then dice the flesh fairly small, about 1–2 cm squared.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the curry leaves, black mustard seeds, garlic and chilli. Stir constantly, and add the tomatoes as soon as the garlic starts to shrivel and brown (1–2 minutes). Let the tomatoes cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are starting to get a little mushy, then add the tomato puree, white wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Cook for another 2–3 minutes, until the chutney is gorgeously deep red and jammy. Taste and add a little more salt, vinegar or sugar if you like, then decant into a small dish for dipping. Let it cool for a few minutes, then serve warm.
Please let me know if you give these a try! I love to hear when people make my recipes and any feed back is appreciated! You can comment below or find me on Instagram or Twitter @greedybearbakes.
Indian Potato Cakes with Spicy Tomato Chutney
Crispy potato and chickpea patties, spiced with tumeric, mustard seeds, and garam masala, with a side of sweet and tangy tomato chutney, spiked with chilli.
Vegan. Gluten-free, Grain-free, Soya-free, Nut-free
For the potato cakes:
- 350g potatoes (approx. 1 large potato)
- 150g chickpeas* (approx. ½ a tin or ¾ cup)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (or other neutral oil, plus more for frying)
- 8 curry leaves**
- ¾ tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 large red onion
- 1 green finger chilli
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp tumeric
- 1½ tsp garam masala (or curry powder)
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp gram flour (sub corn flour if not grain-free)
- 3–4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (optional)
For the Spicy Tomato Chutney:
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2–3 finger chillies
- 200g tomatoes
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp black mustard seeds
- 6 curry leaves
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 4 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- Start with the potato cakes. Peel and chop the potatoes into 4–5cm chunks. Bring to the boil in plenty of salted water, then simmer until you can just slide a fork into them. Check after 7 minutes, then check regularly, as you don’t want them to overcook. Drain and rinse in cold water, then set aside to cool.
- While the potatoes are cooking, put a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat with 1 tbsp oil. Finely dice a large red onion, and add to the pan with ¾ tsp black mustard seeds and 8 curry leaves. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes then turn the heat down a little and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to onions to get soft and sweet and start to caramelize, so don’t rush this step! Finely chop 1 green finger chilli and grate or crush 3 garlic cloves. Add to onions once they have browned, and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add ½ tsp turmeric, 1½ tsp garam masala, and ½ tsp salt. Cook for another 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
- If using chickpeas, add these to the onions and roughly mash with a potato masher until no whole chickpeas remain. Add the potatoes and mash a few more times just to break up the potatoes. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together, crushing any larger chunks of potato. Add the chopped coriander, if using, and sieve in 2 tbsp gram flour. Mix again, and squeeze some of the mixture in your palm. If it falls apart, add a tablespoon or two of water to your mixture until it holds together.
- Shape the potato mixture. Squash a small handful of mixture between your palms, then press around the edges to form a disc. You should be able to get about 4 or 5 burger-sized patties, or 8–10 smaller ones. Place them on a plate or tray. You can fry them immediately but they will hold together better if you refrigerate them for at least half an hour.
- While the patties are in the fridge, prepare the ingredients for the chutney. Slice two cloves of garlic as fine as you can, and finely slice 2 or 3 finger chillies. Halve the tomatoes, cut out the hard green stem and scoop out the seeds, then dice the flesh fairly small, approx. 1–2 cm squared. Gather the rest of the chutney ingredients.
- To fry the potato cakes, put your non-stick frying pan over a medium heat with a couple of tablespoons of oil. When it’s very hot, add a few patties and cook for 3–4 minutes until the underside is golden brown. Flip, and add a little more oil if necessary, and cook the other side for 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and repeat with the remaining cakes.
- While you are frying the potato cakes, cook the chutney. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add 6 curry leaves, ½ tsp black mustard seeds, the 2 sliced garlic cloves and the sliced green chilli. Stir constantly, and add the chopped tomatoes the moment the garlic starts to shrivel and brown (1–2 minutes). Cook the tomatoes for 3–4 minutes, stirring frequently, until they start to get mushy, then add 2 tbsp tomato puree, 4 tsp white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar and ¼ tsp salt. Cook for another 2–3 minutes, until the chutney is deep red and jammy. Taste and add a little more salt, vinegar or sugar if you like, then decant into a small dish. Let it cool for a few minutes, then serve warm with the freshly fried potato cakes.
*You could replace the chickpeas with the same weight of potato if you prefer.
**You can find fresh curry leaves in Asian supermarkets, or in some large supermarkets (Sainsbury’s often have them). However if you can’t get your hands on any you can use dried – just soak them in a little hot water for 10 minutes before using.