Cumin potato cutlets (aloo tikki)

I have a mashed potato problem. Seriously. Everytime I make mashed potatoes, I end up with way more than can possibly be consumed with the meal. The meat finishes, the gravy runs dry, and I am left spooning a pile of mashed potatoes into tupperware and contemplating what will happen to it next. One Thanksgiving, I used leftovers to make potato latkes, little potato pancakes that are airy and a delicious breakfast.

This time around, I decided to try and make potato cutlets out of them. They are known around India as “aloo tikki,” a common snack and good accompaniment to afternoon tea. My mom makes them for dinner parties by boiling and mashing potatoes with a blend of South Asian spices: cumin, serrano peppers, cayenne and salt.

Of course, my leftovers had butter and rosemary, since I served them with an American dinner, but I realized after an initial batch that the South Asian spices can easily overpower and triumph over those flavors. The big difference is that the butter makes the cutlets a little tender to work with, but it’s still workable and results in a creamier cutlet. So I really recommend considering these cutlets as a way to use up leftovers if you, like me, have a mashed potato problem.

Note: My mom would dip her cutlets in egg and then bread crumbs, but I just went with egg and thought they were still quite good. Bread crumbs would add a nice crunch.

To make eight hash-brown sized cutlets, take 2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes and add 1 tsp. cumin, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and 1/2 tsp. of chopped green chilis (preferably serrano with the seeds and veins removed). Add a touch of salt if you think it needs it, but more than likely your mashed potatoes are already plenty salty. Mix.

(You can also just boil fresh potatoes, peel them and allow them to cool before adding the spices listed above.)

Form the cutlets by taking a golf-ball sized portion of the mixture and patting it between your hands until you have an egg-shaped cutlet about the size of a McDonald’s hash brown (three inches long). Lay out all your cutlets on a baking sheet. You can store them in this state in the fridge or freezer, and fry them when you are ready to consume them. They are really best fresh.

To finish the cutlets, fill a frying pan with about 1/4″ of vegetable oil. Heat over medium flame until it’s hot enough that inserting a wooden spoon in the oil yields bubbles. That’s how you know you have oil hot enough to fry! Whip 1 egg and dip each cutlet in egg before placing in the oil. Let the cutlet cook for about 3 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook the other side.

Place the cooked cutlets on a paper towel to absorb extra oil, hit them with a touch of salt (something you should always do after frying food) and serve immediately. It’s quick once you have everything set up, and I really encourage you giving this a try!

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