I get knocked sometimes for making dishes with ingredients you don’t normally have in your pantry. I know that can be annoying, but cooking only with what you find on the Shoprite shelves leads to the normal American statistic of having fifteen or fewer meals in your dinner rotation - boring.
To be honest, I don’t plan recipes for the column then make them. I explore the foods I want to make, then just so happen to write about them.
The tomato cinnamon combination is not uncommon in this region and as odd as it may sound to us, it’s fantastic and makes this dish. Try it. You’ll like it.
If you want a little history, go here.**
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons Brooklyn Delhi tomato achaar*
2 tablespoons ketchup
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, or more to taste
1 pound ground pork or 80% lean ground beef
1 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
¼ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Green Chutney*
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup panko
1/2 cup crushed up sunflower seeds (You can skip this and just use 1 cup panko instead of 1/2 cup)
2 large eggs, beaten
Neutral oil like canola, for frying
Combine diced tomatoes, tomato achaar, ketchup, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring often, until liquid has thickened to the texture of tomato sauce, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to a blender. Secure lid on blender; remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a kitchen towel over opening. Process until smooth and slightly thinner than ketchup, about 1 minute. Set aside.
Stir together ground pork, onion, ketchup, green chutney, cumin, coriander, and salt in a large bowl until well blended. Cover and let marinate at room temperature 2 hours.
Divide pork mixture into 8 balls (about 3 ounces each); shape into 1/2-inch-thick, 3-inch-wide patties or roll into meatballs. Place panko and sunflower seeds ( I leave some whole) in a shallow bowl and the beaten eggs in another.
Get out that old candy thermometer and heat 1/4 inch oil in a large skillet to 350. Working in batches, of 3 or 4, dip the patties in the breading and then the oil (seems backwards, I know), and add to the oil, 2-3 minutes or so each side until crispy. The egg leaves a lacy sort of skirt around the patty, which is nice. Drain the patties on paper towels and serve with tomato gravy and a little extra chutney if you like.
* Tomato achaar and green chutney can be purchased at brooklyndelhi.com (or perhaps the Indian supermarket Parivaar on 273). I made my own, but it’s not necessary at all - I’m just a nerd.
** This is a take on a Parsi dish, not really Indian, per se. The Parsi (Persians) fled to India to escape religious persecution over a thousand years ago, and their cuisine has a foot in both lands.
I don’t know what the Parsi would have paired with this dish - I understand some were not permitted to drink alcohol. I however, enjoyed a Titus Zinfandel.
Tandorosti! (A Parsi blessing for the wellness of your body as well as the community.)