The cuisine of Bengal is known for its subtle yet sometimes fiery flavours and for its use of fish plucked from the freshwater rivers of the Ganges delta. This recipe comes courtesy of Sarah Tildesley, "probably the best food stylist in the world" saysfood photographer David Loftus. "She makes a chilli-free version for me, but our friends love these hot balls of spicy Bengali deliciousness". They make perfect appetisers, especially when served with a cold beer.
300 g floury potatoes (such as Maris Piper or Dutch cream), peeled, cut into small cubes
300 g boneless, skinless, sustainable white fish fillets
Groundnut oil, enough for shallow frying
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1–2 fresh green chillies, seeded, very finely chopped
Piece of fresh ginger, about 3cm, finely grated or crushed
1 small onion, very finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Small bunch of fresh coriander, stalks finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp plain flour
Shredded white and red cabbage and sliced red onion, dressed with lime juice and toasted coriander seeds
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
First, put a steamer over simmering water so it can get nice and hot. When it’s ready, put in the potato cubes (keeping a piece back) and cook for 5 minutes, lid in place.
Add the fish fillets for a further 3 minutes, or until both are cooked through. Remove and set aside to cool a little. Drain any excess moisture.
Gently heat a glug of the groundnut oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic, chillies, ginger and onion, and sizzle together. Then add all the spices, a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and the finely chopped stalks from your coriander. Once the onion has softened, add the potato and fish to the frying pan, with another splash of oil if needed, and cook until the ingredients are dry.
Mix well to combine, then mash everything together in the pan with a fork. Add the egg, the coriander leaves and the flour and shape into 16 walnut-sized balls.
Heat your groundnut oil for frying. You should aim for the oil to be about 2cm deep in an accommodating frying pan. To test when the oil is ready, take a piece of potato and gently drop it into the hot oil - if it starts to fizz, you’re good to go. Gently squash each ball to form a patty. Don’t worry if they break up a little around the edges; it will make the cakes crispy.
Fry the fishcakes, very carefully, in batches for 1–2 minutes on each side until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon to transfer them on to kitchen paper.
Recipe from Around the World in 80 Dishes by David Loftus, with photographs by David Loftus. Published by Atlantic Books.