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Tuna Cutlets – Seafood Recipes From The Kerala Coast

If you love  seafood, these  Tuna Cutlets are just  ones  to  try!   The  best  part is  that  these can  be  made  with canned  Tuna ,  and  has  the  crunchy  satisfying   feel of   fried  fish.  Serve  them on their own as a snack or  appetizer, or  wrap  along  with a  few  salad  greens  and   your  favorite  dressing  in a  wrap  for a  quick lunch.  Here  is  the  lightly spiced Tuna Cutlet, Kerala Style.

Tuna Cutlet Kerala StyleIf  you  have  read  my previous posts  you  know  that  I was  raised in the Kerala.  As  with many in the  region  there is  one  food  group that  I cannot  live   without – Seafood.  Just  so you know  it is valid  classification for  some  of us!  We  cook seafood many ways –  wrap in  banana leaves  and  grill,  curries,  kabobs, pickles, fries and  so on. Pretty much the only thing  we  don’t  make with seafood is deserts .Why no desert  you ask? Well the reason is  very simple – fresh seafood  is more tasty , more  amazing  than sugar !

In other  words ,  seafood is  serious  business.  Back to the  cutlets – I do not  remember  mom making  fish  cutlets, but  I had my fill  from friends and aunts.  These were  not  Tuna Cutlets, but  made  with large  flaky fish  available  locally like the king  mackerel. Any large  flaky fish that  can  be  steamed  and  shredded will work  great in this  dish – Salmon , Tuna, Cod  to name a few.

Tuna Cutlet

The  basic idea behind this dish is pretty simple. Steam and flake the fish.  Add some  spices and  a binder.  Coat with something  crunchy   and  fry.  Delish !!  There  are a  variety of  choices  when it  comes  to spices  and  binders.  I like  to keep the flavors  mellow and  complement  with   just a  enough spices. I do  serve  these  for dinner –  especially if  I have a not  so popular  side – as  the  brussels  sprout  in this  case.

Saute the  chopped onions, green chilies,  ginger  and  garlic till  the  onions  turn soft  and  begin to turn  golden  brown.  The  green  chilies  are added  for  flavor  and  not for heat.  I like  Jalapenos or  Serranos  in this   recipe.  If you were eating  this  is  Kerala, most  probably the  chilies  will be  similar  to the  Thai  Chilies.   Remove the  seeds  and  ribs  from the chilies  and   chop it  fine before  cooking.  Once  the  onion  starts  to  turn  brown on the  sides, add  chili powder, a pinch of  turmeric, garam  masala  and  salt.

Lower the  heat and add  the  flaked  fish  and mix  well.  Cook till  the  mix is  heated through.  Turn off  the  heat  and add  mashed  potatoes  or  fresh  bread  crumbs   and  knead  to a  smooth  dough.  I prefer fresh  bread  crumbs in this  recipe for a  couple of  reasons. Breadcrumbs do not  change  the  taste or  texture  and  absorb  any extra moisture  in the  mix. The other reason being  convenience –  I do  have  some  around pretty much all the  time. Which ever  binder  you chose  add half  and  start  kneading ,  adding  more as  necessary. Once the mix  feels  like a soft  dough taste, and  adjust  salt.  Pinch off  lemon  sized balls  and  form into desired  shape.

Crush 1/4  teaspoon of  fennel seeds  into a  fine  powder  and  add  to  1 C  fine  bread  crumb.   Add a pinch of  salt  as  well and  mix  well. The  fennel adds  a bit of  fragrance  to the  cutlets as  they fry.   Spread on a platter.   Break the  egg  into  a  shallow bowl  and  beat  well with 2 tablespoons of  water.   Roll  the  shaped  patties in the  bread crumbs. Shake  the  excess off  so that  there is  only a  light  coating  on it.  Set  these  aside. Once  all the  patties  are  coated   with breadcrumbs  dip them in the  egg wash. Shake off the  excess  and  roll in the  breadcrumbs  as earlier.   Gently  roll  the patty  between the palms  of  hands  to  get  rid off  excess  crumbs.  Set  aside.

Heat  enough oil in a thick bottomed  pan  to  deep fry the  cutlets.  When  the  oil is almost  near  its smoking  point (around 350°F ideally) add  a  few  patties  to  it  and  fry turning  side to side  until all sides   are  browned  evenly.   As  you start  frying  the  patties  keep the  heat  at  medium  to  prevent  the  cutlets  from burning.  Too low  a  temperature  will make  the  patties  absorb  oil.  Drain  onto paper  towels.

I like  to  serve   these  with a simple onion  salad.  Thinly slice   red onions  and  mix   with  a tablespoon  of  vinegar  and a  little  salt. Set a side  for  a  few  minutes.  Cut a tomato   and  scoop out  seeds.  Slice  the  tomato  into  strips.  Repeat  the  same  with a Jalapeno pepper or chilies of  your  choice.  Squeeze   the vinegar out of the  onions  and  mix  the  veggies  together. Taste and  adjust  salt.


Tuna Cutlet Kerala Style

Tuna Cutlets

By Syama
These  delicious  tuna  cutlets are a popular  snack or  appetizer.  Stuff these in a  flat bread like  roti or pita   with some  veggies  to   make a  satisfying  meal. 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Servings 10 to 12


  • 2 8 oz cans Tuna
  • 1/2 C Onion Finely Chopped
  • 2 Tsp Ginger Grated
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Grated
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1-2 Green Chili See Notes
  • 1/2 Tsp Chili Powder To Taste
  • 1 Pinch Turmeric
  • 1 Tsp Garam Masala
  • 1/4 Tsp Fennel Powder
  • 1 C Boiled Potato/Fresh Bread Crumbs
  • 1 C Bread Crumbs
  • 1 Egg
  • Oil - To fry

To Serve

  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 - 2 Green Chilies
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Juice/ Vinegar
  • Salt - To taste


  • Drain the Tuna and set aside. If using fresh flaked fish set aside about 2 C.
  • Heat 1 to 2 Tablespoons of oil in a thick bottomed pan. When hot add the finely chopped Onions. Saute till the onions are soft . Add the grated ginger and garlic along with finely chopped de-seeded chilies . Cook till the pieces begin to turn lightly brown on the edges. Lower the heat and add the dry spices.
  • Add the fish to the mix and stir well. Adjust salt and turn off the heat.
  • Add the half the boiled potatoes or fresh bread crumbs to fish mixture and knead using your hands or pulse everything together in a food processor a few times. Add enough of the remaining potato or breadcrumb to make a smooth dough.
  • Pinch off lime size pieces and roll into small balls. Press into mini rolls or shapes of your choice.
  • Break an egg into a bowl , add 2 tbsp of water and beat well.
  • Take 1 C breadcrumbs on a plate and add a pinch of salt and fennel powder to it . Mix well.
  • Roll the shaped cutlets on the bread crumb mixture. Shake off the excess and set aside .
  • Dip the bread crumb rolled cutlets into the egg wash and roll over the bread crumbs again. Gently rub off excess bread crumbs so there are no loose bits. Heat enough oil in a thick bottomed pan to deep fry the patties. When the oil is almost at its smoking point place a few of the cutlets and fry till both sides are lightly browned . Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
  • Slice the Onion thin.Pour a splash of vinegar (lemon juice )over the onions and give it a stir. Cut the tomato lengthwise and scoop out the insides. Slice it into thin strips. If using green chilies (Jalapenos are my favorite), remove the seeds and ribs and slice into thin strips. Squeeze the vinegar out of the onions and mix with tomatoes and green chilies. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on top ad serve with the cutlets .


  • Green Chilies are used for flavoring only. Remove the seeds and ribs to avoid excess heat.
  • Fry over medium heat for even browning.
  • A medium thick batter of flour and water can be used as a replacement for eggwash.

Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.

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Recipe Rating

Prasanna Hede

Wednesday 5th of April 2017

Fish is first on my family's list ! These are sure hit at my place.

Jehan Hale

Wednesday 5th of April 2017

These look yummy, and a great new way for me to use tuna!


Wednesday 5th of April 2017

These are so intriguing -- and I'm definitely hungry for them! Love that they're served with the red onion and tomato. Perfect.


Thursday 6th of April 2017

Thank you !


Wednesday 5th of April 2017

I must admit I'm not much of a tuna eater, however I think this recipe would be a huge success in my family. I am really drawn to the chiles, I bet they taste fantastic with the tuna!


Thursday 6th of April 2017

I Hope you try them. Believe it or not the chilies bring a touch of freshness .