Aloo Tikki Arancini with Saffron Aioli

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aloo tikka arancini recipe
Iain Bagwell/Mumbai Modern

You’ve heard of arancini—the Italian snack of fried balls of leftover risotto—but have you ever had aloo tikki arancini? This fusion recipe comes from Amisha Gurbani’s new cookbook, Mumbai Modern, and is sure to wow your guests when you serve them on your next cheese board.

“My fusion arancini have a mixture of boiled potatoes and spices that we use to make aloo tikkis, or shallow fried potato patties,” she writes. “The mashed boiled potatoes help to bind the risotto together, and the spices add a wonderful taste. Together with saffron aioli, this snack is a fun fusion of East meets West.”

When it comes to the aioli, resist the urge to use a substitute for saffron (even if it is cheaper). “Always get the authentic version to get the best color and flavor,” Gurbani recommends, explaining that saffron is such an expensive spice because it comes from a flower called saffron crocus and has to be hand-picked and dried. The splurge is worth it: One dip, and you’ll want saffron aioli with every meal.

Excerpted from Mumbai Modern: Vegetarian Recipes Inspired by Indian Roots and California Cuisine. Copyright © 2021 Amisha Dodhia Gurbani. Reproduced by permission of The Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved.


Saffron Aioli

1 teaspoon warm milk

¼ teaspoon saffron threads

¾ cup mayonnaise

1 garlic clove

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

½ teaspoon table salt


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ small white onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

¼ zucchini, grated

1 cup arborio rice

3 cups vegetable stock (preferably low-​sodium)

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Lemon zest from 1 lemon

½ teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

Aloo Tikki

3 small potatoes, boiled and mashed completely

½ teaspoon red chili powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon chaat masala

½ teaspoon table salt

½ cup all-​purpose flour

2 large eggs

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

30 to 50 small mozzarella cheese cubes (optional)

Vegetable oil, for frying

Freshly grated parmesan cheese, microgreens and saffron aioli, to serve


1. Make the Saffron Aioli: In a small bowl, add the warm milk and saffron, and let sit for about 1 minute. The color and fragrance of the saffron will come through.

2. In a medium bowl, add the mayonnaise. Grate in the garlic. Add the lemon juice, saffron-​milk mixture, black pepper and salt. Whisk to combine.

3. Make the Risotto: In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the oil and butter. Once the butter melts, add the onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and grated zucchini. Sauté for about 1 minute. Add the rice, and toast until translucent, about 4 minutes. (You will smell a toasted aroma.)

4. Begin adding ½ cup stock to the pan, stirring until all the stock has been absorbed. There should not be any stock left in the pan, at which point you will add another ½ cup stock. Keep repeating the process until the rice is al dente, for a total of 20 to 25 minutes. There will be a slight bite to the rice, but it should be soft. The risotto should look creamy at this stage. Add the Parmesan, lemon zest, salt, black pepper and basil, and mix to combine.

5. Dump the risotto onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread it into an even layer and transfer to the fridge for 1½ to 2 hours, or up to a day.

6. Make the Arancini: Remove the risotto from the fridge. To a large bowl, add the boiled mashed potatoes, chili powder, cumin, coriander, chaat masala and salt. Add the risotto and mix well.

7. Have a large baking sheet ready. Prepare an assembly line of separate bowls with the flour, eggs (beaten well), panko breadcrumbs and mozzarella cubes (if using).

8. Using a 1-​ or 2-tablespoon cookie scoop, take a scoop of the risotto mixture and make balls by rolling them between your palms. (If you want to stuff the arancini with mozzarella cheese, add a piece of cheese in the middle, wrap the risotto around the cheese to seal it and roll it between your palms to secure the ball.) Place the balls on the baking sheet as you work. Continue until all the mixture has been formed into balls.

9. Coat each ball in the flour, shake off excess; then the egg wash, shake off excess; and then the panko breadcrumbs. Place each ball back on the baking sheet. (To prevent sticky fingers, use a fork for the panko breadcrumbs part and a spoon for the egg part, or use two different hands, one for the egg wash and one for the panko bread crumbs.) Freeze the arancini for 10 minutes.

10. Line plate with paper towels. Fill a large pot or Dutch halfway with vegetable oil and heat on medium to high heat until it reaches 350°F on a thermometer. Once the oil is ready, fry a few balls at a time until they’re heated through and the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes, rotating halfway through to brown the other side. Once they are uniformly brown, transfer to the plate. Repeat until all the arancini are fried.

11. Garnish with the freshly grated Parmesan cheese and the microgreens. Serve with the saffron aioli.

Note: The arancini store well in the fridge, and the best way to heat them up is by baking them in a toaster oven. The aioli can be made 1 to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Nutrition Facts
  • Arancini (Small)

  • 167 calories

  • 13g fat

  • 7g carbs

  • 5g protein

  • 0g sugars

  • Saffron Aioli (per tablespoon)

  • 101 calories

  • 11g fat

  • 0g carbs

  • 0g protein

  • 0g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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