Hara Bhara Kabbab – Spinach and Potato Cakes, a vegetarian Indian starter -

I am not very good at making starters, especially Indian ones. Not that we don’t serve starters in India, we have a huge variety to choose from. It’s just that I have this thing, yeah thing not sure what else to call it, that stops me from making them often. So when I had friends come over for lunch one Sunday afternoon I had to really challenge my grey cells to come up with something good to start the meals.

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And after thinking, looking at recipe blogs, checking my cook books all I could come up with was the boring “Hara Bhara Kabbab” which has to be the most eaten Vegetarian Indian starter in the world I guess. All restaurants have it on their menu and you would see it served for any Indian party you go to.

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Now the reason why I called it boring is usually it is only made with Potato and Spinach and I don’t enjoy the typical spinach taste that one gets after eating it. So I jazz it up a bit by adding some Ricotta or Cottage Cheese and Almond powder in it to make it softer and more delicious. The best thing about it that you can make it a day or 2 in advance and just shallow fry it when the guests arrive.

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It is a perfect option for vegetarians and also can be used for breakfast to stuff in wraps with some delicious spicy sauce. You can also roll it around Ice cream sticks and serve it for Cocktail parties as the perfect pick me up starter.

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Here is the recipe (Cooking time 10 mins, Preparation time 30 minutes, makes 15 medium sized kabbabs)

6 – 8 medium sized Potatoes

1 cup Spinach

1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese (drained of water) or crumbled Cottage Cheese (optional but tastes soooooo good)

1/4 cup Almond or Cashew nut powder

3 – 4 Green chillies

Salt to taste

1 tsp Cumin powder

1 cup Green peas

1/2 inch Ginger (Do not use store brought ginger paste)

1 tbsp Cornflour, you may need a bit more if your Potatoes are really watery.

1/2 cup Bread Crumbs

1 tbsp Vegetable oil to shallow fry

1) Boil the Potatoes, peel and mash them when they are hot so they are easier to handle. Let them cool.

2) While the Potatoes are boiling, heat some water and pour it in a bowl and add the Peas and Green Spinach and let them sit for atleast 10 minutes. Take a colander and drain all the water from the bowl and let the Spinach and Peas sit in the colander.

3) Once the Potatoes have cooled a bit, drain all the water away from the Spinach. Just hold the spinach in your hand and squeeze hard making sure there is no water left. Take a grinder and add the Green chillies, Ginger, Spinach and Peas in it and blitz to a paste without adding any extra water.

4) Add the Spinach and Peas paste, Almond or cashew powder, salt, cumin powder and the Ricotta/Cottage cheese on the Potatoes and gently mix everything.

5) Now add the Cornflour, which will dry up the Potatoes a bit. Take a portion of the Potatoes and try and roll it in a ball, if you find it difficult to roll them, add a little more cornflour to the mix.

6) If not making the Kabbas the same day, just put them in a dry plastic box and refrigerate. Do not freeze them.

7) When ready to cook sprinkle some Bread crumbs on a plate and roll the kabbabs on the crumb, coating them well.

8) Heat Oil in a non stick pan and once it is hot place the Kabbas on it and let them cook on a medium flame. on both sides till nice and golden.

9) Serve them hot with variety of chutneys or tomato sauce.