The ideal way to end a summer in the kitchen, cooking with my kids is with our native cuisine – Parsi Food.
And with Parsi New Year coming up next week, this fish cutlets recipe from the Parsi Cuisine: Seafoods cookbook seems even more appropriate.
When it comes down to a love for the large choice of mouthwatering Parsi cutlets, kevabs (our term for kebab) and patties – my boys show their Parsi roots!
This genre of Parsi cooking – cutlets, patties, kebabs, puffs, pastries, cookies – became mainstream much later in our culinary history; around the late 19th century with the arrival of Irani Zoroastrians to India. It showcases an entirely different and much loved set of Parsi delights; especially popular in Irani cafes around Mumbai, which are a large part of my childhood memories.
Now, let’s meet the person behind this recipe: Rita of Parsi Cuisine was perhaps one of the first persons to reach out and congratulate me when I started Peri’s Spice Ladle in 2012. From then on, our friendship has grown steadily. Although we haven’t met in person, she’s always been an email away for advice and encouragement.
Rita is a ‘Parsi food expert’ and her immense range is documented in the Parsi Cuisine recipes collections; each ebook is filled with amazing homestyle Parsi cooking.
The Parsi fish cutlets from Rita’s Seafood collection were a runaway success with the boys – perfectly kid sized just like the Croatian chocolate balls and Turkish potato bulgur mezze a few weeks back. Kids love working on food with their hands!
Let’s cook some Parsi Food with the boys! Wish everyone a very happy Parsi New Year.
Read the recipe with your kids to understand the steps involved. Gather the ingredients as you read. This oft-repeated step is an extremely important habit to form in the kitchen.
(Read: ‘Point 5 – Plan before Pan’ in my article 10 Things to Consider While Cooking New Cuisines with Kids.)
In a pan, add 1/2 cup of water, about 1 medium onion cut into quarters, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 lb of white flesh fish (Rita recommends many options like canned salmon or tuna fish to avoid this step completely, or alternatively kick it up a notch and use whole fish with bones which adds great flavor). We took the middle path and used tilapia fish fillets for this recipe.
Bring to a boil and ensure fish is cooked. Remove only the cooked fish pieces (deboned if using whole fish) from the water into a large mixing bowl, and lightly flake it with a fork.
I used a mini food processor for this step, since my younger one tends to pick out onion bits from cutlets if I don’t blend it well! However, as Rita suggests, it’s fine to add these ingredients directly to the flaked fish.
Add about 1 tablespoon chopped onion, handful of cilantro leaves, 1-2 fresh green chili peppers (based on your family’s spice preferences, but do add some for flavor).
Also add 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (used often in Parsi food, leave it out if you don’t keep a bottle of this condiment on hand).
We also added 1/2 teaspoon of salt, but as Rita rightly mentions, don’t add more salt if using canned fish.
Blend well. Mix with the flaked fish.
Soak 2 bread slices for 10 minutes, squeeze out the water (a fun job for the boys!) and add it to the fish mixture.
Divide the fish mixture into small portions – any size that works for your family. I keep all cutlets, patties and kebabs on the smaller side, so we got about 16 pieces from this recipe.
Heat oil in a pan. Keep dry breadcrumbs ready in a shallow plate (I used my favorite Japanese Panko breadcrumbs, but any variety will work).
Roll each cutlet in breadcrumbs and flatten it into a disk for uniform cooking. Cook the cutlet in hot oil on both sides for 2-3 minutes, till the Parsi cutlet has a crisp golden brown coating.
Watch as your kids run through the entire platter of absolutely delightful Parsi fish cutlets in 15 minutes. Make sure you get to taste one!