16 August 2009

Barley Cutlets

For my friends S and E, who took care of me and served me delicious food, always. Everything in London was special because of your love. Thank you.

A vegan (unintentionally) recipe. Adapted from S's recipe for Barley Cutlets.

1 cup barley
2 tbsp finely chopped dill
2 tbsp finely chopped spring onion shoots
1 tbsp finely chopped green chillies (more if you like it hot)
2 medium sized potatoes
oil to shallow fry

1. Soak the barley in water for 10 - 12 hours. About 1:1 volume water: barley.

2. Pressure cook barley and unpeeled potatoes for 3 whistles. This might be mysterious if you don't have an Indian style pressure cooker. Essentially, you are cooking the barley till it's crunchy yet edible and potatoes are soft.

3. Empty into container and shove into the fridge, uncovered. I did this rather on the fly because my barley was ready late at night and I didn't want to make the cutlets right away. But this act was fortuitous as my fridge is a good dessicator and by the next morning I had a easily workable goo. If you have water left over in the barley after cooking or have cooked it on the stove it would be best to discard as much water before putting it in the fridge.

4. Bring mixture to room temperature. Add green onions, chillies, dill and salt to taste. Mash together. Check for taste. The mixture is ready to eat at this point but it's not in the most appetizing form!

5. Heat oil in a pan ( I started with 2 tbsp for 6 cutlets; once the pan was ready though I only put as little as half a tsp for subsequent rounds).

6. The tricky part is making the cutlets. You could use egg as a binder but because the mixture felt easy to use I went without it. Take a portion in your palm (size of roma tomato), squish to make cutlet shape and plonk on to the pan. This is messy and it will stick to your hands. Use your ingenuity for getting it on the pan. If you have made thalipet or akkeroti you'll find this similar in texture. It looks something like this on the pan:

7. For the first round I make chunky cutlets, like thick salmon cakes (see above), but later on it became clear that smaller sizes were the winner. So, you are aiming for a final size of Marie biscuits; those are Astro's favorite, I might add.

8. Wait patiently for one side to be crisp and brown. This is essential. If you try to turn too quickly it will start to break and resemble barley crumble instead of a cutlet. Turn over gently and brown the other side evenly before serving.

Tada! The inside will be a bit soft but the outside should be crunchy. We ate ours with Maggi hot n sweet, but pudhina chutney would have been a tastier accompaniment. Also, a dash of crushed peanuts would have made the cutlets even better.

Lastly, I dearly wish Amma (my grandmother) were here to taste this. She's the true foodie in my family.