Vivek Singh’s Bengali spiced vegetable cakes

- Only use a small amount of salt for the cooking process and season towards the end Ingredients
  • 50g/2oz/1/4 cup ghee or butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon black onion seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cauliflower, finely chopped
  • 125g/41/2oz/1/2 cup green beans, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 2 beetroot, boiled, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 medium potatoes, boiled until tender, then peeled and grated
  • oil for deep-frying

For the spice mix
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, roasted
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 green cardamom pods

For coating
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 150g/5oz dried breadcrumbs

For mustard and tomato sauce – this sauce is particular to West Bengal where it is served with street snacks. To prepare simply add the ingredients together and mix
  • 100ml/3½fl oz tomato ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons water


Firstly, coarsely pound together all the ingredients for the spice mix in a pestle and mortar, and then set aside.

Heat the ghee or butter in a wok or large frying pan. Add the onion seeds, fennel seeds, cumin and bay leaves. When the above begins to crackle, add the onion and sauté until golden.

Now add the carrots, cauliflower and French beans, in that order, sautéing each vegetable until slightly softened before adding the next. Add the chilli powder, cumin and spice mix and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes. Add the raisins and beetroot and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the salt and sugar, then add the grated potatoes and cook for 3–4 minutes, until everything is well combined and has turned a shiny, reddish colour. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Divide the mixture into 8 portions and shape into balls.

Dip them in the beaten egg and coat in breadcrumbs; Chill until firm; Heat some oil in a deep-fat fryer or a large, deep saucepan and fry the vegetable cakes until golden brown. Check the seasoning and see that it is to your liking.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve with the mustard and tomato sauce and a glass of ice cold Cobra

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