Pilchards frikkadels

Before my mother became a vegetarian, she would only past 5 out of 7 days of the week and those days that she didn’t fast she would always demand tin fished and boiled eggs with roti for lunch. My father and I would cringe whenever she requested in.

I used to cringe, because I cannot stand a boiled egg, the white just puts me off and the smell of the yellow center and the creamy texture of my tongue, nope let me skip the horrific details. My father would cringe, because he doesn’t like tinned fish. Not sure why though, but he has known to pull his tongue and make funny faces when I mention that I will be serving a dish that contains tinned fish. The only time he will eat tinned fish is when I make tinned fish samosas. (I hope my father doesn’t read this post, I have no energy to fold samosa pur).

I have a load of childhood memories with tinned fish. I can remember sitting at my Gran’s kitchen table, watching her clean the fish and mixing ingredients in a bowl to make fish cakes. She would let me sample a few bites and I would be so mesmerized, that a raw fish, water soaked bread, raw egg and raw onion could taste so delicious.

I wonder if I had any children in today’s world and I had to allow them to taste all these raw ingredients what would they do or say, would they eat it or would they have been corrupted by our society and refuse to eat raw food, thinking that I was trying to kill them or give them salmonella poisoning.  

When my mother became a full time vegetarian, I stopped buying tinned fish all together. Then I discovered the Checkers app and I was testing out the app to see what I could and could not buy and I somehow landed up buying 2 tins of tinned fish.

I have been ignoring it in the back of the pantry and then last week I wanted to make something that would use up the meat in the freezer, because my mother is hinting that the ice is packing up in the freezer she needs to defrost it and all I keep doing is adding more frozen stuff to the freezer I need to start using some of the stuff.

Then Saturday rolled around and I was looking at my windscreen, when my eyes just happened to look at my license disc and boy did I have a shock, my car license had expired in February already and I hadn’t even remembered to renew it and I showed my mother who went into a panic mode and lecture mode at the same time and she told my dad who told me that I could get locked up and I was like seriously why are my parents stressing me out. Anyway to cut a long story short, I sent my father to renew it for me, of course he made me drive to the police station to get an affidavit and then I had to do the walk of shame in the post office bring him my letter giving him permission to buy me a car license. I never did get my car license and it has been almost a week. Apparently my car license is blocked and I have to wait for it to be unblocked and until then I am driving the back roads avoiding all forms of traffic cops and road blocks.

So by the time I got back home and had calmed down and ensured my mother that I still had my ID with me, that no, I had not lost it and I had put it in a safe place until I got back home and gave it to her, it was almost lunch time. There was no time to still want to put on a pot of curry and have meat cooked before my dad got home.

Best next thing was to whip out Fatima Sydow’s recipe for pilchard frikkadels and serve it with tomatoe chutney and creamy mashed potatoes.

The recipe itself was super easy to make, cleaning the fish brought back so many memories, and everything was smooth sailing, till I went in search of the stale bread. You would think that having a father who has worked for a bread company for close to 40 years, there would be an endless supply of bread in the bread box and there would be no need to wake up last minute and rush to the shops to buy bread. No such luck, the stale bread I had being saving had been given away so I had to rush to the shop, get a fresh fresh loaf of bread and rush home to carry on.

I did ask my mother if using fresh bread would alter the taste and I wish I hadn’t, she freaked me out by saying you always supposed to use stale bread and then she went on to say that Ma only used stale bread. I didn’t want to mention that if she had obeyed the neighborhood watch rules of not giving out food to people who knock at the doors, I wouldn’t be in this predicament of using fresh bread. To tell you the truth, the only difference to me was that soaking fresh bread in water, breaks up more easily than soaking stale bread in water. Other than that the taste of the frikkadels is still the same and still oh so delicious.

The verdict, these frikkadels were amazing, serving with mash, chutney and rice just like I used to eat it growing up, took me right back to my childhood. My dad’s feedback, where is the eno, you know every time I eat chutney I get indigestion, actually scratch that, every time I eat something you make I get indigestion. His answer gave me a premonition and I saw paneer in his future.


  • 2 x 200g tins pilcahrds in tomatoe sauce.
  • 4 x slices of stale bread.
  • 2 x eggs.
  • 1 x onion, finely chopped.
  • 1 x tbsp. paprika.
  • 1 x tsp chilli flakes.
  • ½ x tsp ginger garlic paste.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 x tbsp. dried parsley.
  • ½ x cup bread crumbs.
  • ½ x cup cheddar cheese, grated.


  • Remove the fish from the sauce and out the bones and discard them. Reserve 2 tbsp of the tomatoe sauce.
  • Soak the bread in water for a few seconds, remove from the water and squeeze the bread to remove excess water.
  • Place all the ingredients in a bowl and using your hands, mix and break up the fish and bread so that there are no lumps.
  • Cover the bowl with clingwrap and pop into the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
  • Shape the mixture into discs and shallow fry in oil until golden brown on both sides.
  • Remove from the oil and place on paper towels to drain off excess oil

Tell me what you think of this recipe