Monday, October 24, 2011

Lentil Cakes!

We have recently shifted our family schedule around and therefore have had more time and energy by the time I get to the evening to make dinner. I have taken to pulling out my old Bon Appetite magazines and flipping through them to see if anything catches my eye. This first recipe I came across this week was South Indian Lentil Cakes with Raita.

I made a few changes based on the available ingredients in my pantry and what I came up with had my husband asking if I could make a giant batch to keep on hand so he could take them for lunches. My preschooler also enjoyed them, saying, "Yum!" after each bite, although he wasn't a fan of the sauce.
Raita is an Indian dipping sauce made with yogurt and cucumber and various other spices. Traditionally it is used to cut the spiciness that comes from most Indian foods in this application it is just a yummy sauce as I left out the jalapeños in both the sauce and the cakes hoping to please the palette of my 3 ½ year old. I want to introduce more hot spice into our menu but I have traditionally avoided it myself so what I want to do is condition my taste buds, as well as my family's, to tolerate more spice and adding more variety in our menu. We'll see how that goes…
In the meantime as I mentioned I left out the jalapeños so it should be generally pleasing to most palettes. The lentils and rice have to soak for 3-5 hours so plan ahead on this one.
Special equipment: a food processor.
For Raita:
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup cucumber, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon basil minced*
1 garlic clove, minced
For Lentil Cakes:
½ cup lentils
¼ cup rice
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
¼ cup cilantro
¼ cup scallions
1 Tablespoon fresh basil*
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Oliver Oil (for cooking the cakes)

Raita –
Mix all ingredients together.
Lentil Cakes –
Rinse lentils and rice place in a medium bowl.
Add water to cover by 3".
Let legumes and rice soak at room temperature for 3-5 hours.
Drain legumes and rice; transfer to a food processor.
Add garlic and ginger and process until grainy paste forms.
Add next five ingredients and process till everything is just chopped, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.
You will have a wet "batter" now.
Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Spoon 4-6 mounds (approximately ¼ cup) of batter into the pan flattening with a spatula. (I used my cookie scoop to do this).
Reduce heat to medium
Sauté until golden brown and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side.
Adding 1 more tablespoon of oil when cakes are flipped.
Repeat with remaining batter.
Serve with raita.
*A note about herbs – I used basil because it is what I had, the original recipe called for mint instead. You
can use what you have or what you like. My favorite fresh herb is thyme so I often add it even when it doesn't call for it. Remember no recipe is set in stone and it is up to you to make it so it is pleasing to you and your eaters. If you like what you made write it down, if you don't it is no big deal just try again at the next meal. The more you experiment and find what you like the more comfortable you will be in the kitchen and the more fun you will have!

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