Aloo tikki Scotch eggs

Serves: 0
Course: Starter
Cooking Time: 0 hr 30 mins
  • Makes 10 (or 8 smaller versions)
  • 12 eggs (or 18 quail’s eggs and 2 hen’s eggs)
  • 800g floury potatoes
  • 50g root ginger, peeled
  • 2-3 small green chillies, deseeded, depending on taste
  • 5 round shallots (or 1 large red onion)
  • Neutral oil, to fry
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Half tsp ground turmeric
  • 150g peas, defrosted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A small bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • 100g flour
  • 200g panko breadcrumbs

Potato: a mash-up (forgive me) of two picnic classics from very different parts of the world, these are rich with spice but only mildly hot, with a lovely fresh sweetness from the peas. The hen’s egg versions are quite hefty propositions, a satisfying lunch on their own, so if you’d prefer to make them just one part of a picnic, or as party food, try them with quail’s eggs instead.

They are good hot or at room temperature, and pair well with mango chutney, sweet and sour date and tamarind chutney or a coriander and mint raita.

Gently lower 10 of the eggs (or all of the quail’s eggs) into a pan of boiling water and cook for four and a half minutes (two and a half minutes for quail’s eggs). Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl or sink of iced water and, once they’re done, transfer the eggs quickly to this to cool down.

Cut the potatoes into large, roughly equal chunks and put into a large pan. Cover with cold water, salt liberally, put a lid on the pan and bring to the boil, then uncover, turn down the heat and simmer until tender. Drain and allow to cool, then peel off the skins and discard (doing it this way may be more fiddly, but the flavour is far better).

Meanwhile, use a pestle and mortar to mash the ginger and chillies to a paste and finely chop the shallots. Heat two tablespoons of oil over a medium heat in a medium frying pan and fry the shallots until soft, then add the ginger chilli paste and fry for a minute. Turn up the heat slightly and add the cumin and mustard seeds. Fry for 30 seconds, then stir in the other spices, adding a splash more oil if they start sticking, and fry for another minute or so, stirring. Take off the heat.

Mash the potatoes until smooth, then add three-quarters of the peas and mash roughly. Stir in the spice mixture and salt and, once well combined, add the remaining peas and the coriander and distribute evenly. Taste for seasoning.

Carefully peel the eggs. Take a roughly 125g lump (or about 60g for quail’s eggs) of aloo tikki mixture and form into a ball, then poke a hole in the middle. Put the egg in it and seal up, then repeat with the rest.

Put three bowls – of flour, lightly seasoned, the remaining hen’s eggs, lightly beaten, and breadcrumbs – next to the hob. Fill a large pan a third full of oil, and set over a medium heat until it comes to 190 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, roll each egg in turn in flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Put a plate lined with kitchen paper next to the hob and get ready a slotted spoon.

Once the oil has come to temperature, lower the eggs in with the slotted spoon, two or three at a time (be careful not to overcrowd the pan or they won’t crisp up) and fry for about 2-3 minutes, until golden. Lift them out with the slotted spoon, salt lightly and drain on kitchen paper while you cook the rest, making sure the oil comes back up to temperature first.