Popcorn Crusted Vegetable Lollipop
When "M' announced that the 4th ingredient is popcorn, I wasn't sure how exactly I was going to incorporate it in my recipe. The first thought that popped into my mind was making a simple trail mix with popcorn and some nuts. But the MMC challenge does not have a category for snacks and obviously trail mix cannot pass off as either an appetizer or a side. As healthful as a trail mix maybe I didn't think it was innovative enough for this challenge. When I was thinking hard for some ideas, I realized that popcorn can have the same use as bread crumbs if I can grind it to a coarse powder. This opened a big wide door for I am sure we can think of hundred places where bread crumbs can be used, be it the good old Mac 'n' Cheese or breaded vegetables.
I was shooting for a side dish and I thought breaded veggies like breaded & fried green beans or a tempura style vegetable will be lovely. I wanted to use the freshest of ingredients but unfortunately didn't have any fresh veggies in the fridge. All I had was potatoes, some left over carrots and a bell peppers. I tried to make something fancy or atleast something that can have a fancy name but yet have the most simple ingredients that anyone can lay their hands on at anytime. Also my husband loves the veggie cutlet that we get in Indian restaurant. So I decided to go ahead and make veggie cutlets with a popcorn crust instead of the usual flour or a bread crumb crust. With a few toothpicks these cutlets can be converted into lollipops which are a great finger food for your next party. For people who have tasted vadam esp one that is made of Poha/aval, this popcorn crust gives a similar taste to vadam.
- This dish is a good way to use left over popcorn after a Saturday movie night if you do have any such thing as left-over popcorn :-).
- For the popcorn, I used Orville Redenbacher's smart pop. Pop the corn in the microwave as per package directions. But you sure can use any kind that you have on hand.
- I used my trusted food processor to grind the popcorn to a coarse powder.
- You can use any kind of veggies, fresh/frozen.
- I love Maggi chatpata tomato sauce. It gives a very faint chinese flavor to the cooking. But if feel free to use any kind of tomato sauce/ketchup you have on hand.
- Now to the crust: Popcorn crumbs tend to fall off the cutlet pretty easily. So make sure you press the crust to make it stick to the cutlet.
- I have used diluted buttermilk to aid the sticking.
- Shallow Frying: Crust tends to fall off a bit into the oil, so you will have brunt crumbs floating in the oil. I generally shallow fry not more than 3-4 cutlets at a time. I use just enough oil to coat the cutlets and no more. This way, I get to control both the amount of oil used as well as clean the pan after every batch so you don't have burnt crumbs sticking to your cutlets.
- Fry the cutlets on a medium low flame, be patient as high heat will burn the popcorn coating.
- You can make the vegetable mixture ahead of time and refrigerate it for a day or so or freeze it for upto a month.
- Baking is a good option though I haven't tried it this time.
- Presentation: I made my cutlets a bit bigger for the toothpick that I had. So try to size the cutlet according to the toothpick you have or if you don't care you can completely avoid the toothpick.
1/4 cup minced onions
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp finely chopped jalapeno or Serrano peppers
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped or shredded carrots
1 cup boiled, mashed potatoes
1 tsp cayenne or red chili powder
1 tbsp tomato ketchup (Maggie chatpata tomato Sauce)
1/2 cup popcorn (popped)
2 tbsp oil and more for shallow frying
salt for seasoning
1 cup popcorn (popped)
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 tsp chopped cilantro
salt/black pepper, for seasoning
2 tbsp buttermilk, diluted with 4 tbsp water
2 tbsp cream cheese
1/2 tsp cilantro finely chopped
Salt/Black pepper, for seasoning
- For crust: Grind popcorn to a coarse powder in a food processor or a spice blender.
- In a wide bowl, mix popcorn powder, cheese and cilantro. Add salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
- Stuffing: In a small bowl, mix cream cheese and cilantro. Add salt, taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep this refrigerated until its ready to use.
- In another bowl dilute 2 tbsp buttermilk with 4 tbsp water. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saute pan. Add ginger, garlic, jalapeno peppers and onions. Saute it for a few minutes until onions become translucent. Now add shredded carrots and bell peppers. Saute it for a few more minutes until the veggies get tender. Add mashed potatoes, red chili powder, ketchup.
- Stir over a low flame for a few minutes. Add salt, taste and adjust seasoning.
- Switch off the heat and transfer this into another bowl. Let it cool. Add the popcorn powder and cilantro into this mixture and mix gently.
- Shape the mixture into small round balls (size of a small baby potato or even smaller).
- Stuff each ball with a pea sized cream cheese stuffing, flatten the balls into a patty or any other shape that you'd like.
- Before frying: Take a cutlet, dunk it in the buttermilk mixture. Shake off excess buttermilk. Now roll it in the popcorn mixture. Press the popcorn so it adheres well to the cutlet. Shake off the excess crumbs. Repeat this with the rest of the patties.
- In a saute pan heat 2 tbsp oil on low-medium flame. Shallow fry the prepared cutlet 2-4 at a time until its light brown in color. Turn over to the other side and fry until it browns.
- Place it on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Pierce one or two tooth picks into the cutlet, arrange it on a plate and serve with tomato ketchup or cilantro chutney.