Posted on Nov 5, 2014

Source: Turmeric: The Wonder Spice

This traditional English dish is, nowadays, typically made from leftover mashed potatoes and cabbage fried together. However, in the 18th and 19th centuries, cold meat usually took the place of potatoes. It was also probably at this time that this dish got its name, which is thought to come from the sound of the ingredients frying. The first reference to it is in Thomas Bridge’s 1797 book A Burlesque Translation of Homer: “We therefore cook’d him up a dish of lean bull-beef with cabbage fry’d and a full pot of beer beside; bubble they call this dish, and squeak; our taylors dine on’t thrice a week.” In Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, Grigson suggests instead that the name imitates the shrieks and gasps of its eaters when fairly explosive hot sauces, such as wow-wow, accompanied the dish.

We have added spices to our recipe for that little extra kick. The amount can be adjusted according to taste and quantity of leftovers. Other cooked vegetables, such as carrots, leeks, peas, parsnip, and celery may also be added and, of course, it can still be accompanied by a spicy chutney or pickle.

Leftover mashed potatoes (approx 2 cups)

Leftover cooked cabbage, chopped (2 cups)

1/4–1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Pinch cayenne pepper

Pinch granulated sugar

Salt, to taste

2 – 4 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 fresh bay leaf



1.   Mix the potatoes and cabbage together with the turmeric, cayenne pepper, and sugar. Season to taste with salt.

2.   In a medium skillet, melt the butter and add the cumin seeds and bay leaf. Fry for a few seconds, until the cumin seeds begin to pop. Add the potato mixture and flatten it down with a knife. Fry until the underside is starting to brown, then flip it and brown the other side, making sure everything is thoroughly heated through. Alternatively, you could form the mashed potato mixture into small round cakes and then fry as described here. Serve hot.

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