Mini Goan prawn and coconut cakes

Mini Goan prawn and coconut cakes

I Love India
Martin Poole

These are similar to fish cakes, but so much tastier. They speak of Goa’s history: they are based on Portuguese meatballs but, as one of Goa’s finest ingredients is seafood, it didn’t take long for them to morph into prawn cakes. Goans love music, dance and meeting up with friends and – with a history of Portuguese rule and lots of elegant dining – Goan food soon had lots of appetizers. This is one of my favourites, the kind of thing you will eat in a Goan home rather than a restaurant. Serve them as they are with some lemon wedges, or with Tangy Herb Chutney.


Quantity Ingredient
3 good tablespoons desiccated coconut
4 cloves
8 black peppercorns
11/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1cm cinnamon stick or cassia bark
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
8g finely grated root ginger, (peeled weight)
4 garlic cloves, finely grated
350g raw shelled prawns, deveined
1/3 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 eggs, lightly beaten
45-50g dried breadcrumbs
large handful coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 small indian green finger chilli, finely chopped


  1. Put the coconut in a small cup, cover with hot water and leave to soak while you get on with the cooking.
  2. Pound the cloves, black peppercorns, cumin and cinnamon until fine.
  3. Heat 1½ tbsp oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the onion and fry until lightly golden on the edges. Add the ginger, garlic and some salt and cook for 45–60 seconds or until the garlic is cooked through. Add the prawns, turmeric and pounded spices and cook for 2 minutes, or until the prawns are just cooked through.
  4. Scrape into a blender (or I use a hand-held blender). Drain the coconut, squeeze out the excess water and add to the prawns. Pulse-blend until much of the mixture is a rough mash, but still with some small pieces of prawns inside. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in 2 tbsp each of the beaten egg and breadcrumbs along with the coriander and chilli. Allow to cool, then form into 18 equal patties. Place the remaining egg in a bowl, and the remaining breadcrumbs in a bowl.
  5. Heat half the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Taking one cake at a time, dip in the egg and then coat well in the crumbs. Add half the cakes to the pan and fry until golden on both sides. Place on some kitchen paper to blot off excess oil, then repeat to cook the remaining patties. Serve hot.
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