Thursday, September 22, 2011

Harissa Lentil Fritters

This week, this blog and I each turn a year older.  That I've only been blogging for two years sometimes seems surprising, given how it's been an aspect of my life for most of the time I've been in LA (that first year was a blur), and how that LA time is starting to feel like quite a while.  The blogosphere of readers and other bloggers is a great community--one which has helped me to grow as a cook and a writer.

Are these burgers?  Fritters?  (wikipedia not helpful) I'm not sure, but they are a bit like these red lentil sesame fritters, soooo I'm gonna go with "fritter."

I omitted the peppers, as I am wont to do.  But the batter was SO lentiltastic that then I started adding other stuff to dilute it: I more than doubled the walnuts, added 1/4 c chopped mint leaves, and then, since I was on a sort of manic middle-eastern kick, I also added 1/4 c dates.  Yum!

Since I let the batter sit in the fridge overnight for convenience' sake, it got very firm and sticky on its own, and I didn't need much cornstarch.  I did, however, need way more breading than called for.

These were good, but I was relieved that the harissa and mint livened up what would have otherwise been a pretty bland burger.  And it definitely needed some lemony tahini sauce.  In fact, the second time i ate these, I made a sandwich with a tahini sauce that included not only tahini, miso, lemon juice, and water, but also some more harissa.  It was the most delicious thing; it totally made the sandwich.

Harissa Lentil Fritters
(adapted from akshayapaatram)

2 c brown lentils, rinsed 
1/2 c chickpeas, pre-soaked and cooked with a bay leaf 
1/2 c walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/3 c diced onion (about 1/2 an onion)
1/3 c diced carrots (about 2 carrots)
1/4 c mint leaves, finely chopped
1/4 c dates, soaked, drained, and chopped
1-2 TB cornstarch
2 TB harissa 
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2-1 c bread crumbs (I used panko)
1-3 TB sesame seeds
2-3 TB vegetable Oil

1. In a saucepan combine lentils (reserving ½ cup) and 2.5 cups water along with a bay leaf. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer covered for about 30-40 mins until done. About 10 mins in, add the reserved 1/2 cup of lentils and continue to cook. At the end of cooking time when the initial batch of lentils are tender and yield when pressed between your fingers, the 1/2 c added later will retain some bite and add texture to the burger. Drain the lentils into a colander and set aside to draw out any leftover cooking liquid.
2. In the mean time, heat 1 TB of oil and sauté onions and carrots until slightly softened.
3. To a mixing bowl add the cooked chickpeas and mash them completely using your hand or a potato masher. Add salt, pepper, harissa paste, cooked lentils, sautéed veggies and mash them together to form a dense mixture. If you feel that it’s a little loose add corn starch, 1 TB at a time as needed to get the desired consistency. You should be able to form a patty that holds together.  I left the lentils in the fridge overnight, and they got way drier/stickier.
4. Mix bread crumbs and sesame seeds and spread evenly on a plate. Coat the formed patties lightly on both sides with this mixture and arrange them on a plate to rest.
5. Once all the lentil patties are formed cover the plate with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15-20 mins. This will help the lentil mixture to bind and hold together when cooked in the next step.
6. Heat a cast iron/non stick sauté pan with some oil and crisp them slightly on both sides until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and toasted. Since all the ingredients in the mixture were pre-cooked a few minutes on each side will do.
7. Use the patties to assemble a burger or cool completely and transfer to freezer bags and freeze for later.  See above for serving suggestions.  Made at least 15.


janet @ the taste space said...

Happy year 2! :) Here's to another great year! Will you make another round-up of your favourite recipes? :)

Julia said...

Congrats on the 2 years! And love your blog by the way and the recipes, oh and your name!