As a person who loves any form of cooked greens, when I saw hara bhara kabab on the menu at the Mumbai Spice Cafe restaurant the first time, I was super excited to try it.
The description said “spicy spinach and potato patties with green peas.”
Of course, I loved it! What’s not to love about ultra flavorful and wholesome spinach, green peas, green peppers, cilantro and onions, cooked with savory Indian spices, and a cashew treat on top?
Not to mention that hara bhara kabab is always served with a tasty dipping sauce on the side.
For me it’s a weekend or special occasion treat to enjoy as part of a nourishing vegetarian dinner.
I caution you, though, if you make this, your significant other(s) might get really happy and declare their appreciation of you. Just saying!
How To Make Hara Bhara Kabab
Hara bhara kabab is easy to make, but there are a few steps involved. (This is why you deserve that loving recognition.)
The recipe makes about 16 two-inch patties, and you’ll probably eat around 3 to 4 per serving. This easily doubles, with prepared patties (before pan-frying) keeping in the fridge for a couple days.
To make hara bhara kabab you need to boil a couple of potatoes, let them cool, then you can mash them with your hands.
Using the same water, you can blanch fresh spinach, or you could use frozen spinach. Either way, you’ll need to squeeze out any extra liquid.
The next step is to sauté the garlic, ginger, chilis, and spices together with the green vegetables. In addition to spinach, you have green pepper, green peas, and fresh cilantro. The vegetables then need to be finely chopped or processed.
Then you mix the prepared vegetables together with the potatoes and rice flour for binding. The rice flour makes it a really smooth mixture, as well as keeping it gluten-free.
Now is the step you’ve been waiting for. You get to make the patties—and my favorite part—pressing a cashew or almond into each one.
The final step is to pan-fry the green potato patties until nicely browned. At this stage, I add extra spices and finishing salt because hara bhara kabab is all about the flavor.
Which Spices Do I Need To Make Potato Patties?
Most of the spices used to make hara bhara kabab will be known to most of you, such as garlic, ginger, green chili, turmeric, and cumin seed.
The only lesser-known spice is amchur.
Amchur is an Indian spice made from the pits of green mangos. It is a souring agent that tastes a little bit like dried lemon peel. It adds a lot of pizzaz to Indian food, and is well worth investing in.
Yes, you can use it in recipes instead of lemons. That’s what they used to do in Northern India before trading became the norm (since lemon trees don’t grow there).
If you don’t have amchur, try substituting with half the amount of garam masala, or experiment with more cumin, coriander powder, or even a bit of black pepper.
Another option is to use “chat masala” or “sandwich masala.”
These are complex, sweet-salty-savory spice mixtures that contain amchur and are commonly used in Indian snack items.
I like to sprinkle some chat masala on the patties when I pan-fry them. It tastes super yummy.
For more information about Indian spices, and their substitutions, see Indian Ingredient Substitutions.
More Recipes With Amchur & Chat Masala
Potato Patties Filled With Greens (Hara Bhara Kabab)
- 2 medium potatoes, parboiled and mashed
- 8 cups spinach or kale, blanched (or 3 cups frozen spinach, defrosted)
For the vegetable sauté
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced or grated
- 1 teaspoon green chilis , minced (sub with jalapeno or Serrano peppers)
- ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 cup green pepper, chopped
- 1 ¼ cups frozen green peas
- ½ cup fresh cilantro or coriander leaf, roughly chopped
To finish the patties
For the spicy ketchup
- ¼ cup organic ketchup
- ½ tablespoon honey
- ⅛ teaspoon red chili powder, (or cayenne pepper)
Complete the prep steps
- Bring about 10 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan, and add a tablespoon of salt.
- Blanch the spinach in the water for 2 to 3 minutes until the leaves are cooked. Use a slotted spoon to remove the greens and allow to cool. Working in small handfuls, squeeze out as much water as you can from the spinach. Set aside until needed.
- Peel potatoes. Use the same boiling water to cook the potatoes until soft, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool, and then mash with your hands. Set aside until needed.
- This next step adds a lot of flavor. Get out all the ingredients “for the vegetable sauté” before starting, then heat oil on medium-low in a large skillet and add cumin. Fry cumin until lightly brown.
- Add garlic, ginger, green chilis, and salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric, green pepper, and green peas, and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add cilantro and blanched spinach. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is mostly dry. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
Make the patty mixture and shape them
- Grind cooked vegetables from the previous step in a blender or food processor until mostly blended. There should be some fine texture left. (You could also chop it finely by hand.) Transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Add potatoes, cornstarch, and amchur, and mix well. Add rice flour. (I ran the flour through a sieve to disperse it evenly and eliminate lumps and it worked well.) The mixture should be just slightly wet to the touch, and it should hold together to form into patties. If it is too wet, add more rice flour. Taste, and adjust for salt.
- Use your hands to shape the mixture into small patties of about an-inch-and-a-half in diameter. Push a whole almond or cashew into the center of each potato patty on one side only.
Pan-fry the patties
- Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. After the oil is nice and hot, place the patties into the skillet, nut-side down. Cook until golden brown on the first side (about 5 minutes), then flip and finish cooking the other side.
Make the spicy ketchup
- Add ketchup, honey, and red chili powder to a small bowl and stir well.
- Serve hara bara kabab on a platter with a side of spicy ketchup. Enjoy as an appetizer or a tasty afternoon snack with masala chai.