Foodiva's Kitchen: Tropical Valentine: Tuna Cakes with Banana Chutney and Green Curry Dip

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tropical Valentine: Tuna Cakes with Banana Chutney and Green Curry Dip

Blue waters. Sunny, clear skies. Warm, breezy weather. Check.
Cold, tall thirst-quencher in hand. Check.
Valentine's Day. Check.
Spicy nibbles, condiments and dip. Double-check
Hot, sizzling date. Uncheck.

Okay, so today is Valentine's Day. Not a day that's normally commemorated in our household, but on this blog, nothing's truly normal. You know that saying, "Two's company, three's a crowd"? You'd think that would be an apt phrase for Valentine's when lovebirds (traditionally two people) have a good excuse to cozy up to each other. But not in this realm.

Today, three of us are paying tribute to a day reserved for love (not that everyday isn't) by each trying out a recipe from the Tropical Asian Cookbook compiled by Wendy Hutton. Our tasteful threesome is made up of Trix (Tasty Trix), Penny ( and myself, blogging out of three of the most happening spots on this planet (see below). Well, okay.... maybe two.

How did this come about? On the very last day of 2010, I held my first giveaway which was this beautiful cookbook, and the happy winner was Trix. Since we both have a copy of the same book, we thought why not cook something tropical-themed together out of it? And as we are of the "three's company, two's a bore" school-of-thought, we roped Penny in to join us! 

The book is a compilation of recipes from the prestigious Four Seasons Hotels all over Southeast Asia and South Asia. It features dishes from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Maldives and India. My tuna cake with its simple homemade paratha-like pastry and chutney is reminiscent of a South Asian/Indian dish, while its green curry dip is distinctly Thai. I chose this tropical noon nibbles because I admit, it was the visual that first drew me in. The way the chef (and I presume, the food stylist) presented the dish in the book was stunning... my pictures here don't even come close.

Then I got to studying the recipe and went "Oh my gawd!". No, it wasn't too complex to make, it just seemed that the list of ingredients went on and on and on... On the bright side, everything listed there was easily accessible to me (and you too, I imagine). And so quickly running out of excuses, I decided to forge ahead and make this. Let me tell you, regret it I did not, for the flavors of the tuna cakes when combined with the kick-ass spiciness of the green curry and the sweet heat of the banana chutney were out of this world! Imagine a fireworks display taking place in your mouth, it's not the heat you're concentrating on but the beauty of the explosions.

Tuna cake ingredients

I shall not say too much more but leave you to lovingly stare at all the ingredients. My kitchen was turned upside down for an afternoon making these, but the thought of lovingly handfeeding these tuna cakes to some  (mythical, hot) loved one overrode all painful thoughts of cleaning up. In the end, it was my nephew who scoffed about six of these tuna cakes in one sitting. He declared them "really yummy",  so I guess I can officially elect him my Valentine this year.

Banana chutney ingredients, using curry leaves and bananas from my garden.

Green curry dip ingredients.
I somehow forgot to take a shot of the cilantro and mint - the two major green contributors!
Chilies galore!

Trix has made the spinach kofta with eggplant puree, a delight for vegetarians, while Penny made a lovely thirst-quencher, rose flavored lassi with pistachios to wash all the tropical flavors down. For a complete picture of our Valentine's Day meal inspired by the tropics, remember to head over to their blogs and check out their posts too!

Tuna Cakes with Banana Chutney and Green Curry Dip
Makes 8
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Tuna Filling
2/3 cup (100g) firmly packed drained canned tuna
2 tablespoons very finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons very finely chopped cilantro (coriander) leaves
2 tablespoons freshly grated or moistened desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons lime juice
Salt to taste

Banana Chutney
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoons mustard seeds (I used Nigella seeds)
10 curry leaves
2 dried red chilies, soaked in water 5 minutes, roughly chopped
2 medium ripe but firm bananas, roughly mashed
6 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste

Green Curry Dip
4 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
4 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 large green chili, chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves and fine stems
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 large onion, chopped
10 curry leaves
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Prepare the tuna filling by combining all ingredients in a bowl, mixing well. Set aside.
2. Combine flour, salt and water in a bowl. Knead for 5 minutes to make a pliable dough. Divide into 8 balls, then flatten each with the palm of your hand. Press with the thumbs and fingers to make each ball into a circle about 3 1/4 in (8cm) in diameter. Fill each circle with one-eighth of the tuna, then lift up the sides, pleating and squeezing them to the centre to enclose the filling. Flatten gently into a cake about 2-in (5cm) in diameter , then heat 1 tablespoon oil on a large skillet and sear the tuna cakes until golden brown, about 1 ½ minutes on each side. Transfer tuna cakes to a baking tray and bake in an oven at 350F (180C) for 8 minutes.
3. To prepare the banana chutney, heat oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds, curry leaves, and dried chilies. Stir-fry until the seeds crackle, then add the banana and mix well with a wooden spoon, cooking for 1 minute. Stir in the orange juice and turmeric, and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl. Cool, then chill in the refrigerator.
4. For the green curry dip, process Ginger, garlic, chili, cilantro and mint leaves together to make a smooth paste. Heat the oil in a pan and add mustard and cumin seeds. Stir-fry over medium heat until they crackle, then add onion and curry leaves. Stir-fry until the onion softens, 3-4 minutes, then add tomato and cook 5 minutes.
5. Add the blended paste and cook, stirring frequently, 4-5 minutes. Pour in coconut milk, add salt and bring slowly to a boil, stirring. Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Taste and add more salt if desired.
6. Serve the tuna cakes with banana chutney and green curry dip.


Trix said...

Your presentation is to die for! Yum, I wish I could taste this ... I WILL make it for sure, but I too had a LOT of ingredients in my dish and maybe will stick to 3 ingredient dishes for just a week or so? Hmm ... there wasn't any hand feeding going on at my house, I am sorry to admit, we were too busy shoveling them into our own faces (how romantic). And I sure hope you weren't counting Baltimore as a "happening" place! double l-o-l. This was a fun thing - we should do it again sometime. xoxo!

Foodiva said...

Yes, it was fun making these 1001-ingredient dishes, although now I'm wishing I went for the lassi recipe. As for the mention of happening places, that's why one is kind of obscure, it's either your place or mine Trix because Melbourne is definitely rocking, by Penny's depiction of it! Haha...

Elisabeth said...

What a beautiful and exotic dish, Love the tuna filling, banana chutney, and the curry dip. Such a delicious combination trio.

penny aka jeroxie said...

I love this recipe! I am so grabbing the banana chutney recipe. Thanks for asking to participate. happy V day lovely :D

Foodiva said...

Thank you, Elisabeth. I hope you have wonderful and thoroughly pampered Valentine's Day! Thanks for checking us out.

Foodiva said...

Penny, my lovely partner-in-crime, the banana chutney's yours to grab! It's easy, it's sweet, flavorful and ever so slightly spicy. Hang on, am I describing you or the dish? Haha... Valentine hugs to you too, sweetie!

Sandra said...

Amazing presentation! Awesome photos, and yummy food! Happy Valentine's Day Maya

Foodiva said...

Many thanks and Valentine mwaahs have been sent your way, Sandra!

Rochelle said...

Beautiful photos! I love the banana chutney, it sounds so interesting and tasty. I'm used to only mango chutney, but I would love to give this banana one a try with one of those delicious looking tuna cakes :)

Foodiva said...

Rochelle, the banana chutney recipe's a winner from the word go. It's worth giving it a try, trust me! Thanks for dropping by.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Look how unique all of that is! Just is so amazing!

Nourhan @ Miss Anthropist's Kitchen said...

You make everything look delicious and unique! :)
PS. I also just gave you a blog award :)

Torviewtoronto said...

beautiful pictures delicious this looks like curry rotis we make
banana chutney looks delicious
yummy green chutney

Faith said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving that sweet comment! What a great post this is, I love every component of this dish. The banana chutney sounds amazing!

lena said...

like your son, i think myself can also have a few of the tuna cakes at one go. This really sounds appealing to go with the banana chutney

Victoria said...

Another great collaboration with fellow bloggers! I'm glad you guys came together to create dishes from that cookbook. These tuna cakes look truly unique! Wrapping them in pastry is so different than what I'd expect in a fish cake!

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

What a great project for all three and yours is so beautiful. Wow a lot of ingredients indeed...but it looks so worth it, every last bite.

Magic of Spice said...

What a delightful combination of flavors...I just love the idea of these tuna cakes, delicious!
Will check out the other ladies as well :)

Anonymous said...

Everything sounds so interesting... I like the colors you used in contrast....

Jenny (VintageSugarcube) said...

I absolutely love that you ladies are all cooking from that fan-tab-u-lous book! I really need to get a copy! XOXO

Foodiva said...

Jenny darl, I'll send you over a copy and let's cook together from it, okay! I'm sure Phil will come up with some fabulous shots of your dish:-).

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