These ham hock and pea croquettes are made from a stiff béchamel, rather than mashed potato that so many versions of croquettes seem to be bulked out with. They need to be eaten hot – so hot you burn your fingers on the crisp breadcrumb exterior as you rush to bite into the oozing, cheesy, molten centre. The smoky ham and tangy mustard make the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer or cider.
Makes about 40
75g plain flour
500ml whole milk
100g mature cheddar, grated
1 tbsp mustard
Salt and white pepper
200g cooked smoked ham hock, shredded into chunks
100g frozen peas, defrosted
flat-leaf parsley a handful, finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
150g panko breadcrumbs
groundnut oil for deep frying
Melt the butter in a pan and then stir in the flour to make a thick paste. Gradually stir in the milk until you have a smooth sauce. Simmer over a low heat for 10-15 minutes. Add the cheese and mustard and stir until melted, then add the ham, peas and parsley and season. The mixture should be quite thick and paste-like. It will thicken a little more once chilled too.
Scoop into a tray or dish, cool, then chill completely in the fridge. (This can take 2-3 hours, or you could make it the day before.) Scoop out large tablespoons of the mix and roll each into small logs, around 5cm long and 2cm thick. Flouring your hands slightly will help prevent the mix from sticking to everything.
Put the beaten egg on one plate and breadcrumbs on another. Roll the croquettes in the egg then the crumbs. Repeat so you have two layers of egg and breadcrumbs.
Fill a pan no more than 1/3 full with oil and heat to 180C (or until a cube of bread browns in around 30 seconds), then deep fry the croquettes in batches for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden. Scoop out and drain on kitchen paper (you can keep the cooked croquettes warm in a very low oven). Serve with English mustard and cold beer.
Kachoris are a traditional Gujarati snack, often filled with spiced dhal. I find that using green peas, instead of pulses, gives them a fresher, sweeter flavour that combines wonderfully with the warmth of the spices. I’ve used peanuts for a little added crunch too.
This version of kachori are filled with spicy pea filling and served with a cooling coriander and coconut chutney. Yummy! They will make a delicious starter to a curry night. Like most Indian snacks, traditional kachori get a deep-frying treatment but these beauties have been baked in the oven with excellent results.
Adding citric acid to the dough helps to keep the chapatti case crisp and adds a little citrus zing to balance the flavour but it is completely optional. You can omit it if you don’t have any.
150 g plain flour, sifted
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp / 15 ml of oil (I used olive oil)
about 75 ml / 5 tbsp of boiling water
½ tsp citric acid (if using)
300g frozen peas, defrosted
25g unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 tsp of grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp hot chilli powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¾ tsp salt
1 tbsp oil, for sauteéing
about 1-2 tbsp / 15-30 ml of lemon juice
small bunch of mint, chopped
1 cup of fresh coriander
about ½ cup / 120 ml full fat coconut milk
lime juice to taste (I used ½ lime)
2 tsp grated ginger
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp chilli powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large bowl, mix flour, citric acid and salt. Add oil and rub it into the flour with your hands. Now add 60 ml of hot water and start bringing the dough together. If it is too dry add another 1-2 tablespoons but do it gradually so that the dough doesn’t end up too wet. Knead for 5 minutes. Brush the surface of the dough with a tiny bit of oil and cover with a damp tea towel to prevent drying up.
Whiz defrosted peas in a food processor with the mint until coarse chunks remain.
Warm up a tablespoon of oil over a medium heat in a pan. Add mustard seeds and wait until they start popping. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry them briefly until the garlic has softened. Mix all the spices in a small bowl with a bit of water to make a paste. When you add them to the pan, this will prevent burning. Now add the spice paste, peas, peanuts and salt to the pan. Stir-fry for a few minutes but do not let the mixture dry up completely. Let the filling cool down.
Pinch a small amount of the dough and roll it into an 8 cm / 3” circle. Place a heaped teaspoon of dough in the middle and gather the dough around the filling so it looks like a little money bag and tear away/cut off excess dough. Roll the kachori in your hands to make it more circular in shape. Keep kachori ready under a damp kitchen towel.
Heat up the oven to 200° C. Place kachori on a baking tray and brush them with a bit of oil. Bake for about 40 minutes, until browned.
To make the chutney, blitz all the chutney ingredients (apart from lime, salt and pepper) in a blender. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.