Inspired by Lisbon flavoured by Goa
Pondering the menu for an Urban Rajah Cash n Curry supper club, I struck gold with Georgina, our Portuguese neighbour.
“It all sharted in Lishbon”, she said sagely whilst working her fingers like a food processor. Our pint sized septuagenarian friend recalled her days as a young girl in Lisbon, Portugal making food at home. Exhaling a little from her manual exertion she worked the salt cod into broken boiled potatoes, slim onions and finely mown parsley. Refining them into boat hull shaped quenelles using a couple of spoons at Olympic speed she churned out row after row of dainty fishcakes destined for the fryer.
Standing under a print of St Cristiano Ronaldo she proudly claimed, “You know the Portuguese changed Indian food...we brought chillies to Goa.” As with most immigrant families, patriotism to the motherland is a badge of honour worn proudly and seizing cultural achievements at every opportunity is an allegiance made at birth. Of course she’s right, Portuguese discovery influenced Indian cooking, for example Vindaloo.
An earlier than usual glass of Portuguese brandy (alcohol with the elderly always seems to start early?) extended my interest in the recipe and how Portuguese cooks use spices and chillies in favourites such as Peri Peri. Inspired by the idea to combine traditional Lisbon fishcakes with the flavour of Goa, a unification of old friends to create LisGoa fishcakes. A contemporary translation of Indian fishcakes, a tender mix of cod, fennel seeds, onion, chilli, parsley, potatoes and garam masala. Great to eat hot or cold and best shared with friends and dipped into date and tamarind chutney .
How To Make Indian Style Fishcakes
Serves around 8-10 as a starter
- 1 lb Cod (if using salt cod, soak for 48 hours and change the water regularly)
- 1 lb floury potatoes, peeled, boiled and mash roughly
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 2 green chillies, finely chopped
- 1 tbs fennel seeds
- 2 tsp garam masala
- Large bunch of flat parsley, chopped
- 2 eggs, fork whipped
If you want to follow the traditional method of using salt cod then you’ll need to soak it in a bowl for up to 48 hours, changing the water 3 or 4 times. Pop the cod into a large pot and cover it with water, bringing it to the boil for around 15 – 20 minutes or until the fish falls apart. Drain the cod and leave it to cool. In the meantime boil the peeled and chopped white floury potatoes and once tender mash them coarsely. Now flake the fish using your fingers, clearing away any bones and combine it with the potatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Now comes the tricky part, using a pair of table spoons quenelle the mixture into tiny boat shapes. If that sounds like too much of a faff take a walnut size piece of the mix and shape into a ping pong ball.
Heat about ¾ inch of vegetable oil over a medium to high heat in a deep frying pan or skillet and sautée the fishcakes until they glow like a piece of fried sun. Blot on kitchen paper and eat straight away or keep them back to nibble at later. Great hot or cold served with date and tamarind chutney. They’ll keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.