Tuesday, April 23, 2013

South Indian Lentil Cakes with Raita

This seems like an unlikely recipe to share.  Just by looking at the picture, you think, "Wow, that's...green." But even if the color catches you off guard, we really enjoyed these Indian lentil cakes!  Of course, it didn't hurt that it's served with a yogurt sauce called raita (I happen to be a huge fan of yogurt sauces like tzatziki).

I did alter the recipe to suit what we had on hand.  The mint at the store looked terrible so I just omitted it in both the raita and the lentil cakes.  Mint is such a distinct flavor that I'm sure it would have changed the taste of the cakes. I used up my cucumber in another dish so I had to omit that from the raita, too (although I'm sure it would have been delicious!).

Finally, this recipe reminded me of how much we LOVE roasted garlic. I hadn't made it in forever but since making these lentil cakes, I've roasted garlic twice in the past few weeks.  If you've never made roasted garlic, it takes away any sharpness or harshness from the garlic and creates a smooth, mellow flavor.  I highly recommend it!

The lentils and rice in this recipe do need to be soaked for several hours -- you can do this a day in advance if you'd like and just drain and refrigerate it.  I served this with naan and roasted cauliflower.

South Indian Lentil Cakes with Raita
Taken from: The Sweets Life
Serves 4-6

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 (I didn't have on hand so I omitted)
  • -2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • -2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped (I didn't have on hand so I omitted)
  • -1/2 tsp (or more) fresh lemon juice
For the Lentil Cakes-
  • -1 cup lentils
  • -1/2 cup basmati rice (I used regular white rice)
  • -2 garlic cloves, minced
  • -2 tsp chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • -1 jalape├▒o, seeded and minced
  • -1 cup spinach
  • -1 cup peas, thawed
  • -1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • -1/2 cup scallions, chopped (I used chopped onion instead)
  • -1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped (I didn't have on hand so I omitted)
  • -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 (except for olive oil) 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 4-5 minutes per side, until cake is golden brown on each side. Repeat with remaining batter, adding additional oil as needed.
  5. 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.
  6. Serve cooked lentil cakes with raita and roasted garlic cloves.


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