Kerala is a fish loving community and we have created an incredible variety of dishes featuring fish. Of all these dishes, fish cutlet is my favorite. To make cutlets, firm fleshed fish such as tuna or mackerel is cooked along with spices, onion and herbs. The bones are then removed, and the flesh is shredded or crumbled. The fish is mixed with mashed potato, shaped into ovals or rounds, coated with bread crumbs and deep fried.
I know, how good does that sound??!
My mom often used to make these devilishly good cutlets when I was a kid. But all of a sudden, cutlet making came to an end in the family. Why? Because the cutlets she made were so good that someone cast an evil eye on them. After that, they always used to crumble up while frying!
Come on, you must have heard of people who have the ability to cast an evil eye on things. They look at something, make a comment, and poof, that thing is destroyed beyond repair. This is called Kannu vekuka in Malayalam, nazar lagaana in Hindi, and can surely be translated into every other language in the world.
So common is the belief in the evil eye that mothers often put big, black, ugly spots on babies’ cheeks and forehead, or slip black bangles on their tiny wrists to ward off the evil eye. The idea is to make kids look ugly so that no one spares them a second glance. Some kids are so ug, em, so not cute in the first place that such precautions seem unnecessary, but their mummies don’t seem to realize that.
Likewise, many people put a string of green chilies and lemon on their cars to protect them. And they put a picture of a large rakshas on their homes to ward off the evil eye.
So there, the three most important things in the aam admi’s life are protected. His kids, his house and his car.
Anyway, on that fateful day, my mom didn’t think of protecting the cutlets she had made by sticking a chili into them. A dinner guest commented that they tasted incredible, and since then, she has not been able to make cutlets successfully. Several attempts were made; with less potato and more potato, oil at varying temperatures, all kinds of deep fry pans. A lot of recipes were read through, a lot of research was done. But they were all in vain.
Finally, she gave up.
I have taken up cutlet making at home now, and so far, my attempts have been successful. Either they are able to withstand all the negative energy they receive, or they are just too ugly to attract unwanted attention and I am yet to realize that. If you think they don’t look good enough, it’s because I didn’t powder the bread finely enough to make bread crumbs. Yes, I did that on purpose, just to safeguard them from the evil eye. 😛
Kerala is a fish loving community and we have created an incredible variety of dishes featuring fish. Of all these dishes, fish cutlet is by far my favorite. To make cutlets, firm fleshed fish such as tuna or mackerel is cooked along with spices, onion and herbs. The bones are then removed, and the
- Clean fish. Cut into small cubes.
- Mix together fish, onion, ginger, green chili, turmeric, curry leaves, and salt.
- Cover and cook over low heat. Stir every now and then, and cook till water has evaporated. Let the fish mixture cool down.
- Remove all bones. Add pepper and mashed potato and mix well. Do a taste test and adjust seasoning.
- Divide the mixture into portion of equal size. I divide mine into roughly lemon size. Shape into balls and flatten to a disc shape about 1 cm thick.
- Beat egg lightly. Spread out bread crumbs onto a plate.
- Dip each cutlet into beaten egg so it is well coated. Roll in bread crumbs. Keep on a plate. Repeat for all cutlets.
- Freeze for 20 minutes to firm up.
- Pour oil into a deep fry pan so it comes up a couple of inches the sides of the pan. Heat over high flame, and then bring down to medium. Add cutlets to oil making sure not to overcrowd the pan, or else the oil temperature will come down.
- Once cutlets are brown, remove with slotted spoon. Enjoy with tomato sauce or challas (finely sliced onions with vinegar and green chilies).
- ~The cutlets can be made with tinned fish as well. Drain away all the water and follow the same procedure as above.
- ~Don’t mash the potato using a potato masher. Instead, mash roughly with a fork.
- ~ You can use herbs of your choice for more flavor.
- ~ You can store the cutlets in freezer. I don’t thaw them for more than 5-10 minutes before frying.
By the way, if you know someone who has the ability to cast an evil eye, please give me their contact details. I would like their help in taking out a few people I am not very fond of, without having to go to jail.