In a household where at least one fried dish is expected for Iftar, you’re constantly looking for new options. Kerala has plenty of fried food options and breaded Cutlets and Samosas stuffed and filled with meat are a staple on most tables. My home is no different and we have some form of fried dish almost every day for my husband. It’s mostly boiled egg, spicy Potato masala or thinly sliced onions dipped in Gram flour batter and fried till gold and crisp. These options are rotated throughout the week and he’s content with the options. On the other hand, I look out for new recipes that are a bit different from the usual Malayali fanfare. Last year, I was introduced to these Mozzarella stuffed Potato Croquettes. I added one little tweak and it’s now one of my go-to recipes when entertaining family members for Iftar.
I had these for the first time at my dear friend’s house last year when she hosted us for Iftar. I use the word host because her table setting is nothing short of elaborate (Royal Albert on steroids I kid you not) and she goes out of her way to make you feel at home. We’re from different countries and she’s introduced me to recipes when I was still grasping the basics of cooking in the kitchen. When we used to live in Abu Dhabi, she would make fresh pancakes and runny eggs for breakfast and we would sit on her kitchen table, again immaculately laid out, and drone on for hours about everything under the sun with glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice. Almost every breakfast or our coffee session would end with me asking for a recipe or to be shown a technique. If I like something I’ve eaten, regardless of who it is I make it a point to let the person know their efforts have paid off. Certain recipes I go a step further and will ask for the recipe. Many a time, I’ve been told they’ll share the recipe later and you know it’s not coming your way. Or when it is shared and you do give it a try, it doesn’t taste quite the same (I have a sharp flavor memory, if that is a thing). It reflects so much on a person who not only enthusiastically shares her knowledge with patience but also almost immediately elaborates on what has been asked and without any hesitation. Saman is one of those rare people. In fact she is the person who opened the doors of baking to me. I’ve made my fair share of burnt cakes and sunken muffin tops but it was watching her bake that really pushed me to try more with the right recipes.
Alright, I’ll rest the best friend fan club talk here. Back to these cheesy croquettes. There’s very few ingredients that go into the mashed potato mixture which means they’re a great option if you have a large group of guests. I compared the prepping time required to make Chicken Cutlets. The only bit that will take a little time is shaping and stuffing the cheese inside but considering you have to prepare, cook and mince chicken for the former, this is relatively much quicker to complete. Hand mixing the mashed potatoes is easier than using a spoon to incorporate all the ingredients together. I did not discard the Jalapeno seeds which meant my fingers were tingling for quite some time. Nevertheless, if you love heat these Croquettes will not disappoint.
Let’s talk cheese. I really wanted to try these with fresh Mozzarella but was a bit wary considering they’re much softer in texture and didn’t know if it would hold up inside while being fried. Mozzarella cheese sticks or the chunkier blocks are combined with Vegetable oil so they’re easier to cube to place inside the Potato mixture. I try to pick the lightest colored version available as they taste closest to fresh Mozzarella. Do take care to seal the Mozzarella inside as it will literally be a hot mess if otherwise when it hits the deep fryer.
Next step is breading. Saman uses Italian breadcrumbs instead of the regular ones and I would strongly recommend doing the same. They’re slightly coarser in texture and have quite a few dried herbs including Parsley and Oregano. If you have these in your pantry, you can make it yourself too. Apart from these, she adds powdered Parmesan (no more cheese please said nobody ever!!) and a dash of Paprika. It adds more to the color than heat. The shaped croquettes are dipped in egg wash and then coated with the breadcrumb and cheese mix.
Considering there is Mozzarella in the middle, the Croquettes are shaped slightly elongated. I will say they do need delicate handling and this is where the texture of the mashed potatoes play a big role. You want to boil them where they’re still a bit powdery when mashed. I realized allowing the mashed potato to become cold to touch made for easier shaping. It becomes crucial in the frying stage too. Once my potato mash was much softer and it made it very difficult to turn over in the hot oil. My slotting spoon made indents through the breading and the mozzarella starting seeping through the potato into the hot oil. Mind you they still taste fantastic (It’s fried cheese after all) but you’ll lose points for how it looks. Firmer potato mash texture made ladling easier and helps retain its shape.
When I ask my husband want he wants for Iftar, his answer is almost always ‘anything you’d like.’ Off late, he’ll add ‘ and that cheese stuffed potato if you get the time.’ Last weekend I had family home for Iftar and I made these alongside Parippu Vada. There was no surprise that these finished very quickly and were appreciated by everyone. With a heart of Mozzarella and the heat of Jalapeños, I guess there’s no surprise there.
Cheesy Jalapeno Croquettes
Large Potatoes - 2
Onion - Medium sized, ½
Coriander leaves - Finely chopped, 2 Tbsp
Coriander powder - ¾ tsp
Chilli powder - ½ tsp
Jalapeno - 2
Salt - to taste
Mozzarella cheese - cut to small cubes
Coconut oil - To fry
Italian breadcrumbs - as needed
Parmesan cheese - 2 tsp
Paprika powder - 1 tsp
Egg - 1
Boil potatoes till they’re soft and still powdery.
Mash them well to release steam and let it cool completely.
Finely chop onion and jalapeno chillies and mix it in the potatoes by hand.
Add coriander leaves, coriander powder, chilli powder and salt to taste and mix it by hand.
Take a lime sized potato mixture and flatten it slightly in your palm.
Place a mozzarella cube in the middle and seal it well with the potato mixture.
Continue shaping the remaining croquettes in the same manner.
In a bowl, mix breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and Paprika powder together.
Beat the egg thoroughly.
Dip the croquette in the egg wash and then coat it in the breadcrumb mixture.
Heat oil on medium-high heat.
Once hot, fry the croquettes till they’re golden brown.
If fresh Jalapeños aren’t available, replace with 3-4 spicy green chillies.
The texture of the boiled potatoes should not be extremely mushy. It will crumble when it is deep fried.
You have to let the steam from the mashed potatoes escape completely. It should be cold while handling.
The mozzarella cube has to be sealed from all sides otherwise it will seep through and melt in the oil when it is being fried.
Have a good food day.