Monday 1 March 2010

Mama's lamb and potato cutlets or Cottlets

This is my favourite photograph of my dear mother-in-law, mama in her favourite place, the kitchen.
I don't eat red meat, but 'A' loves these lamb and potato cutlets that his mother used to make. Making them is easy but really quite time consuming. Every so often I make up a big batch. Usually on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It's quite therapeutic to stand at the stove, frying batches of cutlets....especially as we don't usually have fried food. But you can't make them if you're in a rush or wishing you were doing something else or you'll go mad. And I'm sure they wouldn't turn out...they have to be made with love, just like mama used to make them.

You will need:

.1lb/half a kilogram of minced lamb.
.One white onion minced or grated.
.Five or six potatoes, par boiled whole with skins on. Then peel when cold and minced.
.One beaten egg to bind
.A couple of desert spoons or gram/chick pea flour. But if you can't find this any other type will do.
.A teaspoonful of turmeric.
.Two or three garlic cloves peeled and crushed.
.Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
.A mildly flavoured oil like groundnut, rapeseed, sunflower or plain vegetable oil

Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and combine them together. Work the mixture with both hands to make sure everything is sticking together and the mixture is nice and smooth.

Pour plenty of oil into a deep frying pan and heat up. Meanwhile forming the mixture into oval cutlets. Try not to make them too thick as they will puff up a little when cooked and you want to be sure the meat is cooked properly in the middle of the cutlet. You may need to have a tap running to keep wetting your hands whilst forming them but make sure no water splashes into the hot fat.
Before cooking them all I always make a tiny little sample one to cook and taste the seasoning. Then either adjust or go ahead making the rest. Drop into the hot fat as you make them, making sure that you drop them away not towards yourself to avoid splashing.
The secret of good cottlets are:
1. Hot fat, but not too hot as it will burn.
2. let the cottlet cook on one side before turning over or it will fall to pieces. Don't mess about with them too much.
3. Have a plate ready covered with plenty of kitchen paper to put the cutlets on as you remove them from the pan. Leave them to drain a little to remove any excess oil so they don't become too oily.
'A' likes these served with a traditional salad made from finely diced cucumber, onion and tomatoes dressed with olive oil, fresh lime juice and salt and pepper.
Also traditional Persian rice, which if you've never had you must try it's delicious. The rice is cooked and then baked to make a nice light separate rice and a crunchy bottom bit. I'll explain how to make it another time. A spoonful of butter (or I use a soya substitute) is put in the middle of your rice...which melts and is yummy especially topped with sumac which is a spice that tastes all lemony and salty, and the obligatory sabzi hordam, fresh green herbs......yum....

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