When I was a kid, probably about 9 years old, I wanted to start a garden. I begged my mom to help me make one in our yard, and tried to convince her that I would take care of it (plant, weed, water, you know, the usual). I doubt she actually thought I would do all of those things at such a tender age, but I guess I convinced her that I wanted one badly enough. I think my interest lasted long enough to watch as she dug up the earth and plant some flowers. I’ll be honest, I don’t actually remember participating in the actual gardening at all (but who knows, maybe I just have a fuzzy memory).
Time passed. We moved across town. I went to college, then graduate school… Come this year, I learn that my mom has nurtured the sweetest herb garden in our yard. What, you thought I would have a garden?? Psh, please. I’ve killed a third of the plants I’ve tried to raise this year. Maybe someday I will be brave and start a windowsill herb “garden.”
Recently I was gifted bunches of fresh herbs from my mom’s garden. You’ll see these highlighted in a few recipes (if I’m using copious amounts of fresh herbs, they’re probably from her garden). One thing I was given in plenty was mint. Mint is such a wonderfully fresh herb. It livens up the flavors of any dish you may use it in. When I received this mint ideas started running through my mind of all the ways I could use it. I made a top 5 list of ways to use mint. I’m not sure what pushed me to make the mint-themed cutlets and chutney, but boy am I glad I did.
I had never made a homemade chutney before. Now that I have, I’m not sure if I can ever go back to the store bought stuff. The chutney was so brightly flavored. So fresh. So delicious. So perfect. Coriander-mint chutneys aren’t exactly a new kid on the block, in fact they are quite common, and something I grew up with. Even if the potato-chickpea patties don’t interest you, I urge you to at least make the chutney. Pick up some frozen samosas (or make them from scratch), eat it with some rice, or smother some idli or dosas with the stuff! Seriously, have it with whatever fits your fancy, just have it. Just a tip though, after opening your food processor don’t stick your face over the top of it–between the freshly processed onion, garlic and peppers, it’s enough to make your eyes water for days (trust me, I found out the hard way).
This isn’t to say that the patties aren’t delicious! Soft on the inside with a crispy fried skin. Lightly flavored with mint, lemon, garlic. A bit of a toasted pepper kick from the paprika. These are perfect for pairing with the chutney or just for eating on their own. I also have a feeling that kids would love the creaminess of the patties. They are strongly reminiscent of the aloo tikkis I grew up eating and loving as a kid.
Mint Potato-Chickpea Cutlets
makes 12 cutlets
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp mint, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
Serve with chutney, recipe following
1. Cook the potatoes: cover with water, and simmer until soft, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile make the chutney (below). Drain the potatoes once soft, and set aside to cool.
2. In a large mixing bowl, put the chickpeas, cooked potatoes, garlic, mint, olive oil, lemon juice, paprika, salt, and pepper.
3. Mash until fairly smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
4. Form patties (scant 1/4 cup filling per patty), flattening between palms. It’s easy enough to form the patties as you need them for frying, plopping them on the hot skillet as you make them.
5. Spray cooking oil on a skillet, and warm over medium heat. When the oil is hot cook the patties for a few minutes on each side. Be careful when flipping, though the crispy skin holds them together, they are definitely softer patties. If you don’t over-crowd your pan you should have no problems flipping!
yield: 1 cup
1 cup fresh cilantro (also called coriander)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
2 small shallots
2 small green chilies, more if you like heat, less and seeded if you don’t
2 cloves garlic
1″ ginger root, peeled
1/2 tsp sugar, or to taste
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup water
1. Chop the shallots, chilies, garlic, and ginger into large chunks (~1/4″) to make it easier on your food processor.
2. Place everything in the food processor and process until mostly smooth (will be approximately the consistency of pesto).
Note: You can easily make the chutney in advance and just leave in the fridge until you’re ready to serve!