Friday, July 1, 2011

Red Lentil Sesame Fritters

Joumana of Taste of Beirut does it again.  It's interesting how, with the exception of the occasional lamb- or cheese-based recipe, this blog comes closer to my tastes than many vegan blogs.  I love how her blog creatively mixes traditional Lebanese foods with other global influences.

I veganized this recipe for flavorful, falafel-like fritters by using flaxseed instead of egg; I also made it gluten-free with chickpea flour instead of wheat flour (rather like in the case of the tempeh meatballs).  (edit, 7/8/11: d'oh...except for the bulgur!  I made this again and used more rice in place of the bulgur)  I'd recommend pre-cooking the lentils and grains in advance, because you won't want to handle them while they're still hot; moreover, the batter won't be as (problematically) wet if the grains sit and absorb some liquid while cooling off.  I skipped the step of pre-cooking the garlic and herbs; I don't think it was necessary: there wasn't so much garlic as to be a problem raw.

When I finally got around to shaping the fritters, it was eerily like making these cookies: rolling the dough in a ball, then coating it in sesame seeds!  The final texture is pretty amazing: although the rice and bulgur make the insides a bit more varied (sort of like in oats and rice sausage), overall it's fluffier and lighter than a falafel, and the seame seeds on the outside give it an additional crispiness.

The flavors are equally exciting.  Besides the usual cumin-coriander-garlic, the chipotle and caraway in the harissa add complexity, as does the pretty generous amount of dried mint.  These guys are all balanced out by more sour flavors of lime zest (!), extra lemon juice, and, yes, sumac.  I was sort of put off of sumac when I bought it ages ago and used way too much of it, but here I halved it and proceeded with caution, and it was great!  Just a little extra funky-sour flavor.

Joumana suggests pairing these fritters with a cold salad of tomatoes and feta.  I agree that they'd go well with something fresh and slightly sour.  Perhaps a cold chutney or salsa of sorts?  The first time I had these they were paired (happily) with the Moroccan Carrot Salad and the Green Pea Soup; the second time it was just with salad (as pictured below).

Red Lentil Fritters
(adapted from taste of beirut)

1 c red lentils, cooked in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes till soft.
1/2 c bulgur (#1), soaked in hot water 10 minutes, then drained and squeezed of the extra water.
3/4 c (short grain brown) rice, cooked
1 large (flax) egg (1 TB ground flax + 3 TB water; combine and let sit for 10 minutes before using)
1/2 c (chickpea) flour
2 scallions, minced (can substitute shallot) (optional)
2 TB of harissa (can substitute red pepper paste of your choice or chili paste)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp sumac (optional)
2 TB powdered dried mint
Rind of zest of an orange or a lemon or a lime, chopped
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste (I didn't add any, but it depends on how much salt you cooked the lentils and grains with and how spicy your harissa is)  
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c minced cilantro
1/2-1 c minced Italian parsley (1 c was a little too much; interfered with cohesiveness of batter)
1 c of sesame seeds (can substitute pistachios, pecans or walnuts, chopped fine)
oil for frying, as needed
1 or 2 lemons, quartered

1. Place the cooked (and drained) lentils in a large bowl. Add the drained bulgur, rice, egg, flour, minced scallions, harissa and other spices, rind of a citrus and toss well to combine. Heat a little olive oil in a small skillet, throw the mashed garlic and minced herbs and stir to combine the mixture for no more than 10 seconds. Remove and add to the lentil mixture and toss.  (I took a short cut by simply adding in the garlic and herbs without pre-frying them).

2. Shape the fritters with an ice-cream scoop (or your hands) and dip in the sesame seeds or other nuts.
3. Heat some oil in a pan (about one inch) and when hot (at 350F to 375F), drop the fritters and cook about 3 minutes on one side and one minute on the other. Place on a plate lined with paper towels.   Serve hot with lemon wedges.  Serves about 6.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

YUM! This sounds and looks great! Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog! I look forward visiting yours!