I adore appetizers. It’s probably because I have the attention span of a gnat. I love small bites of many things. Committing to a full serving of anything sort of feels like settling. Especially when you have plenty of choices in front of you. I would rather order the full run of starters on a menu than a solitary main. And yes, I realize this is far from sane. Most people would rather have a ribeye than a side order of focaccia. But that’s not important. What is important is I love to design appetizers. From dips and canapes to sliders and skewers, tiny food is when my heart is. And today’s Curried Pumpkin Croquettes with Mint Chutney are some of my best work.
What I love most about crafting starters is how economical you have to be when you approach them. You’re often crafting a solitary bite, so you have to pack the entire experience of a dish into a single morsel. And it has to be balanced because every element of the dish will be introduced to the palette simultaneously. Can you tell I’ve thought about this a little too hard?
These Curried Pumpkin Croquettes offer the perfect bite. Well, realistically they’re more of a two-bite affair. These croquettes introduce themselves with a crisp, crunchy panko exterior that gives way to a velvety potato and pumpkin filling accented with coconut milk, curry powder, garlic, and ginger. The mint chutney serves as a bright accent to the scintillating snacks without overwhelming them. And come on, the color combination is excellent. The orange and the green? Who could resist this power couple? So let’s put them together.
Now, as with anything small, these Curried Pumpkin Croquettes take time to assemble. But trust and believe they are not difficult to make. It all starts with onion as most recipes do. Sautée the onion over low heat before adding garlic and ginger. Once the veg is happy, take it out of the skillet and start building a roux. We’re essentially going to make a bechamel. But this bechamel is what I like to call “strong bechamel”. In other words, we’re going to make a very thick sauce.
To make a strong bechamel, add more flour and less liquid. That is essentially it. The thinking behind using a strong bechamel is we want the makings of our croquettes to be mouldable. That means when we chill the filling we need it to set up fairly solidly. And when the filling is relatively solid, we can shape it into balls and bread them without making a horrible mess. But when we introduce the breaded croquettes to the hot oil, the exterior will crisp up as the interior heats up. And as the interior heats up our strong bechamel will become creamy once again, resulting in a velvety texture.
Add equal parts butter and flour to the skillet and form a roux. Now, we’re going to add coconut milk instead of regular milk for a hint of sweetness and extra creaminess. Make sure you use full-fat coconut milk, it is the best. But if you really can’t bring yourself to use it and you want to use light instead, cut the coconut milk in half. Light coconut milk has a lot more moisture and we don’t want our bechamel to be too thin. Once the coconut milk is in there add a tablespoon of curry powder and a healthy dose of salt and your strong coconut and curry-scented bechamel is done.
While the bechamel is going down, boil some potatoes until extremely tender. Like so tender just brandishing a fork at them is enough to make them fall apart. Drain the potatoes and pass them through a ricer into a large bowl. Add the strong bechamel and a cup of pureed pumpkin. Make sure you buy the can that says “pure pumpkin” or you’re in pumpkin spice territory, which isn’t the vibe we’re going for. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger you sautéed earlier and mix everything together. Cover and chill for a good 2 hours.
Once the potato mixture has chilled, it should be scoopable and mouldable. If it’s not firm enough, pop it back in the fridge and hone your patience. Roll the mixture into a series of balls, you should have about thirty when all is said and done. A podcast or a television show will help see you through this process. Just give yourself over to the meditative quality of repetitive action.
When the croquettes are formed and happy it’s time to chill them once again just for thirty minutes or so. Again, we want them to be as firm as possible before we handle them again. And while the croquettes are chilling, we can get started on the Mint Chutney and I’m not going to go into much detail here. Mostly because there isn’t a lot of detail. Essentially, you put all the chutney ingredients in a blender and blend until it turns the prettiest shade of green you ever did see.
Once the croquettes are thoroughly chilled, roll them first in potato starch before dipping them in beaten egg and dousing them in panko breadcrumbs. Again, this is when a podcast comes in handy. And now we’re standing on the threshold of the grand finale. That’s right, it’s time to fry. Now, I realize this is no one’s favorite activity, but it’s really the best way to finish off a croquette. You will not achieve that shatteringly crisp crust and creamy interior without it. So heat your oil to 350°F and pop them in there. When all the croquettes are gloriously golden, place them on a paper towel to drain and transfer them to a platter. Finish them off with a sprinkling of salt and chili flakes and a handful of fresh greens for color. Serve the croquettes immediately for maximum enjoyment.
And that’s everything you need to know about these Curried Pumpkin Croquettes with Mint Chutney. A luxurious holiday-friendly starter that’s sure to dazzle guests and impress inlaws (if at all possible) the world over. It will be on my holiday dinner menu and I think it should be on yours as well.
Curried Pumpkin Croquettes with Mint Chutney
- 1 deep fry thermometer
- 1 Large skillet
- 1 ricer
- 1 heavy bottom pot
Curried Pumpkin Croquettes
- 2 large Yukon gold potatoes peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger minced
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- ½ cup potato starch **
- 3 large eggs beaten
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 4 cups neutral oil for frying
- chili flakes for sprinkling
- ½ cup mint leaves tightly packed
- 1 cup fresh cilantro *** tightly packed
- 1 knob fresh ginger
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- 1 red bird's eye chili stem removed
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup full-fat yogurt
- 1 lemon juiced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
For the Croquettes
- Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and salt the water liberally. Cook the potatoes until very tender. Drain the potatoes and set them aside.2 large Yukon gold potatoes
- While the potatoes are cooking, pour a quarter-sized amount of oil into a large skillet. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onion and a sprinkling of salt. Sauté until the onion is softened and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant about 30 seconds more. Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl and set it aside.1 yellow onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 tbsp fresh ginger
- Place the butter in the skillet. Once the butter is frothy, whisk in the flour to create a roux. Slowly whisk in the coconut milk until a thick sauce forms. Take the skillet off of the heat and whisk in the curry powder and salt. Set it aside.3 tbsp unsalted butter, 3 tbsp all-purpose flour, 1 cup full-fat coconut milk, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 tsp salt
- Pass the potatoes through the ricer into a large bowl. Add the curry sauce, pumpkin puree, and the onion mixture. Stir to combine. Taste and season with salt accordingly. Cover the mixture and transfer it to the fridge. Chill for 2 hours.1 cup pumpkin purée
- Roll the chilled potato mixture into a series of balls, using a tablespoon measure as a guide. Place the formed croquettes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place them in the fridge. Chill for another 30 minutes.
- When the croquettes are chilled, take them out of the fridge and working with one at a time, roll them first in the potato starch before dipping them in the egg and covering them in panko breadcrumbs. Return the breaded croquettes to the baking sheet and repeat.½ cup potato starch **, 3 large eggs, 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- Heat the oil to 350°F in a large heavy bottom pot. Add the croquettes to the oil 4-5 at a time. Fry until golden, rotating the croquettes with a slotted spoon often to ensure they fry evenly. Transfer the croquettes to a large plate lined with a paper towel and keep warm in a low 150°F oven. Repeat with the remaining croquettes.4 cups neutral oil
For the Mint Chutney
- Place the herbs, ginger, garlic, chili, salt, and yogurt in a blender or food processor and set it to low. Stream in the lemon juice and olive oil. Blend until very smooth. Cover and chill until ready to serve.½ cup mint leaves, 1 cup fresh cilantro ***, 1 knob fresh ginger, 1 clove garlic, 1 red bird's eye chili, ½ tsp salt, ⅓ cup full-fat yogurt, 1 lemon, 2 tbsp olive oil
- Arrange the croquettes on a large platter and serve them alongside the mint chutney. Finish the croquettes with a sprinkling of salt and chili flakes. Serve immediately.chili flakes