What’s cooking today: Fish cakes with an Indian twist

By Tony Jackman 14 January 2021

Fish cakes made with chana (gram) flour. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

This recipe uses gram flour (chickpea flour) as a binding agent, rather than potatoes, lending it a firm texture that holds together very well. It’s a fish cake with the pleasing texture of a chillibite (bhaji/pakora), the Indian (and Punjabi) delicacy that gram flour is best known for.


500 g filleted white fish, flecked or chopped finely (I used gurnard, but hake or other white fleshed fish will do fine)

175 g gram (chickpea, a.k.a. chana) flour

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 green chilli, seeded and chopped finely, optional

Splash of olive oil for frying the onion and garlic

Small handful mint (or coriander) leaves, stems removed, leaves chopped finely

1 scant tsp ground coriander

1 scant tsp ground fennel seeds

1 scant tsp ground cumin seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large egg

Extra gram flour for dipping the fish cakes in before frying

Cooking oil for frying the fish cakes, or use butter or ghee


Chop the filleted fish into tiny pieces. Feel for any possible bones, cut them away and discard them. Put the fish pieces into a bowl.

Fry the onion and garlic until lightly golden in a little olive oil. Add this to the bowl.

Add to the bowl the 175 g gram flour, ground cumin, fennel and coriander, the mint (or coriander) leaves, chilli if using, salt and pepper, and the egg.

Pour extra gram flour into a container and season with salt and pepper. Give it a good shake. About half a cup of flour should do; you just need enough to coat the number of fishcakes you’re making.

Use clean hands to work the mix together thoroughly, then divide the mixture into four to six fish cakes. I made four rather large ones, but of course you can make more smaller ones if you prefer.

Coat each fish cake on all sides well with the flour, then pat each one between your palms and flatten them a little. Pop them into the fridge for half an hour before frying them, to firm them up.

Heat oil in a frying pan and fry on all sides until well golden, on a lowish heat, to be sure they cook through to the middle.

Serve with chutney. DM/TGIFood

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