Yasmin Khan shares a recipe from the stunning new cookbook The Saffron Tales. And read our exclusive interview with Yasmin here.
These fragrant fishcakes (Kuku-ye mahi) are packed full of fresh herbs and fluffy mash, making them soft and pillowy on the inside with a wonderfully crisp crust. They are the result of a morning spent cooking with Goli Heydari, an exuberant primary school teacher from Bandar Abbas. Fish is part of the staple diet in southern Iran and, as Goli showed me, these spicy little parcels are a delicious way to spruce up any cheap white fish. The sweet and spicy tamarind and date sauce adds a lovely piquancy here, and is fun to present in separate little bowls for dunking. Serve the fishcakes with a crisp salad.
Ingredients Serves: 4
- 300g potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 200g white fish fillet (such as cod, haddock or pollock), skinless and boneless, chopped into 5mm dice
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- 50g bunch coriander, finely chopped
- 25g bunch parsley, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish
- 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaf
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- Zest of ½ unwaxed lemon
- 1 medium egg
- Plain flour, for dusting
- 3 tbsp sunflower olive oil
For the tamarind and date sauce
- Put the potatoes into a large pan and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until tender. Drain, mash the potatoes with a fork or potato masher, and place them in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the fish to the potatoes. Dry fry the cumin seeds in a small pan for a minute or so, until their aroma is released. Grind the seeds with a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder and then add them to the bowl, along with the fresh herbs, the fenugreek leaf, garlic, cayenne, turmeric, lemon zest, egg, 1¼ teaspoons of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.
- Using your hands, mix well, then mould into eight round patties. Dust with a little flour and place on a plate, then cover with cling film and chill.
- To make your sauce, meanwhile, place the tamarind and its soaking liquid, the dates, brown sugar, cayenne, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Add the hot water and cook for 10 minutes over a low heat until the dates are very soft.
- Take the sauce off the heat and sieve into a bowl, using the back of a spoon to rub as much of it through as you can.
- To finish the fishcakes, heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the fishcakes on a medium-high heat for 6–8 minutes, turning every few minutes, until golden brown and well crusted. Garnish with parsley, and serve with the sauce in separate bowls, for everyone to dip into.
From the cookbook The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan.