Like a fish cake but tastier, these little Goan cakes are based on Portuguese meatballs but in Goa the Portuguese used local ingredients to create bites from home. This is a really easy dish to make, they can make a super easy, ready in 10 minutes meal for the family when served with some vegetables but also little canapes for when friends come around. All the work can be done earlier in the day so you only spend minutes in the kitchen. 






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (111 votes)


  • 4 cloves
  • ¾ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cm piece cinnamon stick or cassia bark
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • ⅓ tsp ground turmeric
  • 25 g (¼ cup) desiccated coconut
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • ½ small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 8 g piece peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 350 g green peeled prawns, deveined and washed
  • 100 g dried breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • large handful coriander leaves and stalks, chopped
  • Tangy herb chutney, to serve

Cook's notes

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.


This recipe makes 18 canape size or 8 medium cakes

Place the cloves, black peppercorns, cumin and cinnamon in a mortar and pound with a pestle until fine. Stir in the chilli powder and turmeric.

Place the coconut in a heatproof bowl and pour over enough hot water to cover. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt fry until lightly golden. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 40-50 seconds or until the garlic is cooked through. Add the prawns and ground spices and cook for 2 minutes or until the prawns are just cooked through.

Pour into a blender (I use a hand-held stick blender). Drain the coconut and squeeze out the excess water, add to the prawns and pulse until much of it is a rough mash but there are still some small pieces of prawns inside. Taste and season to taste. Add the coriander and 2 tablespoons each of the beaten egg and breadcrumbs and combine well. Place the remaining egg and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls.

Using slightly damp hands, shape the mixture into cakes as small or as large as you like. Dip the cakes in beaten egg, then coat in breadcrumbs. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the prawn cakes, in batches if necessary until golden on both sides. 

Serve hot with tangy herb chutney.


Anjum's Australian Spice Stories starts Monday 4 April 2016 on Food Network Australia. Visit the program page for recipes and more.