Swapna's Tasty Tuna Cutlets

I have been gushing about the lovely ladies I met through the Kerala Kitchen event last month. I also was introduced to some yummy dishes I had not tried making before and these awesome cutlets are one of them.

Sure we always have had cutlets at home-mostly meat or vegetable filled ones. My mom always makes them into oval shapes and I understand why- the oval is the most space-efficient, taking up less surface area in a skillet so you can fry more at a time! also to stack and store in the freezer. Although for parties, when she was serving them as appetizers, she would roll them into balls so that you could pick them up daintily with tooth picks!
 And though I have helped my mom roll them, dip them in bread crumbs and also fried them up numerous times, I have never made them myself. 

Swapna's entry to our monthly round up had me thinking of cutlets for days until I gave in to the temptation, opened up some tins of tuna and made these. Now I have only one regret- why didn't I make these sooner?
Its quite easy to do, and great to make ahead and freeze for those days when you want a quick meal and also a do ahead for parties when you have a lot of cooking to do. You can simply take these from the freezer, microwave for a minute or so and fry them up.

I also cooked the potatoes in the microwave and made bread crumbs in my little food processor to make these cutlets a snap. Since I was a little wary of the deep frying, I fried these one at a time in a tiny saucepan that I usually use for "tadka", so that I used very little oil- a tip I got from Foodie Ann's luscious veggie cutlets.
If you are totally paranoid you could also smear a little oil on both sides, lay them on a baking sheet and bake until crispy. I haven't tried this tho have heard that it works.

Swapna's Tasty Tuna cutlets
Recipe: Modified only very slightly fron Swapna of Swapna's cuisine from her entry to #1 Kerala Kitchen

Ingredients: (To make about 20 cutlets)

For the filling

  • Tuna 2 cans drained - Choose the ones in water or low sodium. If they are already salty, then don't add any more salt
  • Potatoes 2 medium, either boiled until soft or cubed and microwaved for 5 minutes mixing and then microwaving for 5 more minutes until soft and well cooked
  • Onion 2 medium, chopped fine
  • Ginger 2 tsp, chopped fine ( I used 1 tsp ginger paste)
  • Garlic 1 tsp, chopped fine ( I used 1 tsp garlic paste) 
  • Green Chillies 4, chopped fine ( You can reduce to the original recipes 2, around here we like it very spicy)
  • Red chilly powder 1/2 tsp (adjust according to your taste- I used 1 tsp)
  • Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
  • Pepper powder 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala powder 1 tsp
  • Chopped Curry leaves few
  • Salt to taste- Omit if your tuna is already salty
  • You can also add some bread crumbs into the filling-I sometimes do this with left over bread crumbs

For the coating:

  • Egg whites-2 ( I used one egg mixed with 1 tbsp of water- since this is just for binding or sticking the breadcrumbs onto the cutlet, you can also use milk instead, or even a paste made with a few tablespoons of water and some all purpose flour.
  • Bread Crumbs- I used about 4 slices of bread ( brown bread or white bread or -doesn't matter) pulsed in my food processor until crumbly. You can also use panko (crispy Japanese breadcrumbs) avaliable at the grocers- but why bother when you can use up left over bread- I pop the ends, crusts or stray slices of bread into a zip lock in the freezer and then lightly toast them in the toaster & pulse in the mixer/ food processor to use whenever I need breadcrumbs.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and sauté the chopped onion, ginger, garlic, green chillies and curry leaves until the onions are golden brown.
  • Add the masala powders except the garam masala and sauté for a minute or two.
  • Add the tuna and sauté, mixing well with a spoon, until tuna turns light brown and has broken up into flaky bits.
  • Add garam masala, and mix well. Turn off the heat and keep aside to cool for about 10 mins
  • (You can also do this a day ahead and keep in the fridge to form the cutlets the next day )
  • Meanwhile boil an mash the potatoes or cook them in the microwave. I cut them into cubes, sprinkle a little salt on them and microwave for about 5 mins. Then I mix them around in the bowl and microwave for a further 3-5 mins until fork tender.
  • Once the fish mixture is cool to touch, add the cooked mashed potatoes, about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs if you like, and mix well with your hand.
  • Form the mixture into the shape you like. (I love Swapna's heart shapes. I made rounds though ovals are the most efficient, taking less space in the pan and also in a box to store.)
  • Beat the egg slightly with a fork adding 1 tbsp of water.
  • Dip the cutlets in beaten egg and then roll them in breadcrumbs until coated on all sides but not over coated. You can also just dip them in milk and then coat in breadcrumbs.
  • You can freeze them at this stage to fry later. Place them stacked in a box with a sheet of foil or a piece of plastic in between layers to make sure they don't stick to each other. 
  • To fry, pour oil into a small sauce pan so that there is atleast an inch.I used a very small saucepan- the once I use for tadka and fried them one at a time, adding more oil as necessary so that I used less oil.
  • When the oil starts to bubble carefully fry the cutlets until brown, flip and fry the other side.Make sure you drop the cutlets into only hot bubbly oil. If the oil is not hot enough, the cutlets will simply soak up excess oil and become soggy.
  • If you try to cook them on a skillet with very little oil you may find that while the bottom of the cutlet browns, the sides (edges) will be uncooked and the cutlets may crack at the sides. In that case try flipping them over on their sides ( see the oval shape helps here too!) and cook the sides as well.
  • Once brown on all sides, place them on a kitchen towel or napkin to soak up the excess oil.
  • Remove the crumbs that fall into the oil periodically as these could burn and turn black and are known carcinogens. 
  • You could also smear the cutlets with oil, put them on a baking dish or sheet and bake them in the oven till brown
They make good appetizers or can be served with rice. My mom also used to make sandwiches with a cutlet, a slice of onion and tomato and a smear of home made mayo.

These cutlets are on their way, once again to Kerala Kitchen for this month's edition hosted by Ria of Ria's collection :) 


  1. Ah! They are so tempting R! I've not even had my brekky yet but I'm already ready for lunch :)

  2. You know, I've had and made more tuna cutlets than meat or veggies. My mom used to make it often and so that's one of the first dishes I cooked after marriage :) Now, my kids love it better than meat. Your cutlet looks yummy!

  3. Thanks Ria and Nasheera!
    I think we always had beef cutlets at home and only very occasionally fish so tuna cutlets didn't even enter my mind until I fell in love with Swapna's entry!

  4. Once again thank you so much R for trying the cutlets and blogging about it! I am so glad you enjoyed it....back home in Kerala meat cutlets and fish cutlets are more popular...may be because of the non-availability of canned tuna there...

  5. You're right Swapna, who would buy canned tuna with all the readily available fres fish, brought right to your door! But canned tuna does make this even easier! Thanks again for the recipe :)

  6. Lovely recipe of Tuna Cutlets but here at our part of the world we don't get tuna. I guess i will have to use some other fish .

  7. I have found this site to be simple and easy to understand, very nice design as well. Keep doing the good work. thanks for sharing .

  8. I have been gushing about the lovely ladies I met through the Kerala Kitchen event last month. I also was introduced to some yummy dishes I had not tried making before and these awesome cutlets are one of them. black salwar kurta design , black dress shalwar kameez design ,


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