Nana's cutlets


Mince cutlets have been a favourite meal in my family for well over 100 years.  My grandfather Claude De Souza was one of 10 children, and in their turn of the century household it was commonplace for both children and adults alike to hide theirs under piles of rice so they wouldn't be stolen by hungrier members of the family.  My Nana had her own version of the recipe, which was elaborated upon by her old cook Hira, who famously added a secret ingredient (later found out to be the very un-mysterious Worcestershire sauce).  

This cutlet recipe benefits from the addition of lots of fresh coriander and green chilli.  Cutlets are great eaten traditionally with curry and rice and yellow Bombay potatoes; or can be served in a wrap, as a burger or just simply in fresh crusty white bread, my favourite way of eating them.

500 grams of mince (lamb or if using beef, make sure it still has a bit of fat)

1 cup of fresh coriander, chopped

5-6 green chillies

1 large red onion

8 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon of grated ginger

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 egg (plus an egg for coating)

1 slice of stale bread

1 cup of breadcrumbs

oil to fry

lots of lemon or lime juice

In a food processor, blend coriander, chillies, onion, garlic, ginger, salt, cumin, egg and a slice of stale bread torn into pieces into a fine paste.

Place mince in a bowl, add spice paste and knead gently by hand until combined.  Take small scoops of mince (around a heaped tablespoon), roll into a ball and then flatten into a cutlet shape.  Using wet hands helps.

Coat the cutlets by dipping them in beaten egg and then in breadcrumbs.  Heat around 1 cm of oil in a wide, heavy based frying pan and fry cutlets, a few at a time, for a few minutes on each side.  Place in a warm oven to finish cooking.  When ready to serve, squeeze over lots of fresh lemon juice.