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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

South Indian Lentil Cakes with Raita

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I consider myself very fortunate that I'm married to such a non-picky eater. Ryan honestly has no idea what he'll be eating on a day to day basis. Occasionally I'll ask him if he has any dinner ideas for the upcoming week, but for the most part, I choose our meals for the week and he comes to dinner ready to eat whatever I put in front of him.
Meals like these South Indian Lentil Cakes probably wouldn't fly if he weren't so easygoing. Not only do they look alien-like, but most people don't exactly jump for joy when they hear lentils are for dinner. In true Ryan fashion, however, he chowed down happily. 
I have to say, for as weird as these look and sound, they were actually a really awesome dinner. They would be a great way to introduce skeptics to lentils and an even better way to sneak some vegetables into your meal. You can't at all taste the peas or spinach that are blended into the mixture. Instead, the cakes are a little nutty with an overwhelming flavor of fresh herbs, especially when coupled with the raita. 

One word of caution--you need to soak the lentils and rice for several hours before making the meal. I soaked them the day before and then drained before refrigerating overnight. Once you do that, it's an easy process of blending everything together in the food processor and cooking on the stovetop. I can't wait to make these again!

One Year Ago: Steamed Kale and Broccoli with Sundried Tomatoes
Two Years Ago: Mini Double Chocolate Cheesecakes
Three Years Ago: Pineapple Orange Pork Chops

South Indian Lentil Cakes with Raita
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit September 2011

For the Raita-
-1 head of garlic
-1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
-kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
-1/4 tsp ground cumin
-1 cup plain yogurt
-1/4 cup finely chopped peeled seeded cucumber
-2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
-2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
-1/2 tsp (or more) fresh lemon juice

For the Lentil Cakes-
-1 cup lentils
-1/2 cup basmati rice
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 tsp chopped peeled fresh ginger
-1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
-1 cup spinach
-1 cup peas, thawed
-1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
-1/2 cup scallions, chopped
-1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped
-2 tsp kosher salt
-2 tsp freshly ground pepper
-2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Rinse the lentils and place in a medium bowl with the rice. Add water so that everything is covered by 3 inches and set aside at room temperature for 3-5 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 450F. Cut the top half inch off of the head of garlic and place garlic on a piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and roast for 40-45 minutes, until tender. Let cool.
3. Place lentils and rice in the bowl of a food processor. Add remaining lentil cake ingredients and puree until a thick paste forms.
4. Add about 1 tbsp olive oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to place balls of the lentil mixture on the skillet. Flatten slightly with a spatula to form cakes. Cook for approximately 4 minutes, until cake is golden brown on the skillet side, and flip. Repeat with remaining batter, adding additional oil as needed.
4. Meanwhile, make the raita by combining the yogurt, cumin, cucumber, mint, cilantro, and lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.
5. Serve cooked lentil cakes with raita and roasted garlic cloves.