Dosa spiced potato cakes with cucumber pickle

A Modern Way to Eat

For my birthday last month my friend Katie bought me a really rather brilliant cookbook.  I’m very easy to buy presents for, scan my cookbook shelves and fill in the blanks. Simple.   A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones has filled a rather large blank that I wasn’t actually aware was there.  It’s a vegetarian cookbook that is fresh,full of light yet satisfying food, healthy and well, modern I suppose.

I have a great many cookbooks however, and this surprises most who linger over the crammed bookcase, not that many vegetarian ones.  Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking was the first vegetarian book I bought, I still have it and there are a couple of recipes that I go back to, though no reading of the very well-worn pages are required anymore -Linda’s boeufless bourguignon sauce  is hardwired  into my cooking brain.  And then there’s Delia Smith’s Vegetarian Collection which was possibly my next vegetarian book.  If you’re not familiar with the book then let me tell you that as lovely as it is it is extremely heavy on the cheese, cream and eggs. I think if I’d cooked from that every week then I probably wouldn’t be here writing this today.

The problem with so many vegetarian cookbooks is the evident need to replace the meat on the plate with a substitute.  Whether that’s McCartney’s endless meat substitutes (I’m not knocking them, Linda McCartney’s sausages have pulled me out of many a hangover over the years)  or Smith’s very-tasty-though-not-advisable-to-eat-more-than-once-a-fortnight cholesterol-fest.  Ottolenghi has brought much joy with Plenty and Plenty More and Sarah Beattie too. Good vegetarian cookbooks, that don’t need to ‘substitute’ the meat are out there but this one landed on my table and has pretty much stayed there ever since.

Anna Jones was one of Jamie Oliver’s first intake of students at Fifteen, she went on to cook all over the world and came back to the Oliver empire as a food stylist, writer and creative on the chef’s TV shows, books and campaigns.  In her current role as an independent food writer she’s worked with everyone from Antonio Carluccio to Mary Berry and Yotam Ottolenghi, she wrote Innocent’s book Hungry? and has contributed to The Guardian, The Telegraph and the Observer Food Monthly. She’s switched me on to soaking nuts over night – they’re more healthy that way and chia seeds – chia seeds!

The recipes are sensibly healthy, by that I mean they’re full of good things, but eating, and feasting your eyes on the images does not feel like attrition.  There’s nothing evangelistic about this book either, it just quietly promotes a healthier way of feeding ourselves – and it’s good too, the recipes are well-written and constructed. There’s no preaching, in fact there’s a fantastic sounding blood orange margarita that I’m keen to mix soon. It makes no apologies at being a vegetarian cookbook either, as weirdly so many veggie books often seem to do. It’s sparky, exciting and common sense eating really. Common sense with chia seeds.

Anna Jones’s Dosa Spiced Potato Cakes with Cucumber Pickle

Serves 2-4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 35 minutes
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Breakfast, Lunch
From book A Modern Way to Eat

What you will need

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 4 potatoes (boiled and mashed OR 4 large spoons of leftover mash)
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 0.5 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lemon
  • half a cucumber (thinly sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (bashed in a pestle and mortar)
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar


Step 1 Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for about five minutes, until soft. Add the mustard seeds and stir well while cooking - they will pop! Take out and set aside a tablespoon of the onion mixture.
Step 2 Add the turmeric and curry leaves to the onion mix in the pan and cook for another minute or so. Turn into a bowl to cool.
Step 3 Add the cooled onion mix to the mash, season and mix well. Divide into four portions and shape into potato cakes. Leave them in the fridge to chill.
Step 4 To make the cucumber pickle put the sliced cucumber into a bowl and add the white wine vinegar, coriander seeds, sugar, grated zest and juice of half the lemon. Mix and scrunch the ingredients with your hands to help the flavours release. Set aside.
Step 5 Put the frying pan back on to a medium heat, adding a little more oil if necessary. Add the potato cakes and fry gently until they're browned on each side and warmed through.
Step 6 While they're cooking mash the avocado with the remaining lemon juice, stir in the reserved onion mix and season well.
Step 7 Serve the potato cakes piled high with mashed avocado topped with cucumber pickle.


  • bavariansojourn

    I am going to have to get a copy I think. I find myself eating meat less and less, I think living in two “pork heavy” countries has put me off for life to be honest! 😀 This recipe sounds delicious, it made me miss Sunday mornings in SW. London with a huge Masala Dosa in our fave Southern Indian restaurant…

    • Sarah Scott (Author)

      I think a lot of people are cutting down on meat for one reason or another. Look out for a copy, it’s well worth it. South Indian food is THE best, Masala Dosa and thalis, heaven… would love to know how they make the dosas so thin and papery …

  • I read or heard about this book recently – it does look great – good to have a review

    • Sarah Scott (Author)

      It’s really good Sally. A meat eater friend said that they didn’t actually realise it was a vegetarian cookbook, they hadn’t missed the meat and fish at all!

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