Spicy Baked Red Lentil “Pakora” Fritters
Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegan
I was in the mood for a spicy Indian style appetizer, but the restaurant versions are typically fried and loaded with oil and calories. I wanted a guilt-free healthy version and tried to recreate a pakora type treat using ingredients I had on hand. Here is a spicy treat that packs in some of the most nutrient dense, but not calorie dense, ingredients—greens, beans (lentils), onions, turmeric and more!
This was a total experiment and the results were interesting and delicious. Initially, I was cautious about adding too much liquid because I wanted the pakora to hold its shape. On the other hand, some liquid is necessary to make the mixture combine in the blender. (I used a Vitamix but a food processor would be great too–see my Favorite Products post on Vitamix blenders http://table-karma.com/kitchen-essentials-vitamix-ultimate-blender/). I started with a test batch using about 1/4 cup of liquid and then altered the recipe batch by batch. After round 1, I added about a Tablespoon of pomegranate molasses just for fun. It was barely noticeable in the flavor but may have mellowed out some of the spice. I liked the results better as I added a bit more water. The first test sample was denser and dryer and would make a fantastic burger patty with an Indian flair.
We enjoyed eating these pakoras unadorned, as a snack straight out of the oven, but would have enjoyed some raita or other chutney. For a meal, try wrapping these in naan, or even a lettuce wrap, and adding raita (vegan raita recipe coming soon) and mint cilantro chutney–see my Recipe http://table-karma.com/mint-cilantro-chutney/, and of course any vegetable curry would be a wonderful accompaniment.
My family loved this pakora taste test and nearly all of the first 3 attempts disappeared quickly, even before I finished baking the last. The vegetables and spices can be adapted to your taste. I will definitely use this lentil-greens base to inspire some other versions.
Here is the recipe:
First, soak your lentils–see below. This takes about an hour.
When you are ready to make the recipe, heat your oven to 400-450 and line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone mat—I used the mat and it worked really well, with no sticking, and resulted in a nicely browned bottom.
Blend together until smooth (I used a Vitamix but a food processor would be great too):
1 cup (uncooked) red lentils—soaked for one hour and drained
1 T chopped fresh ginger (I was out of fresh and used grated prepared ginger from a jar)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp curry powder or garam masala seasoning-I used garam masala
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp baking powder
about ¼ cup water—more as needed
Transfer blended mixture to a bowl and stir in:
2 finely chopped scallions—green part
¼ cup minced fresh herbs—cilantro is great, parsley would work
2 cups cup packed finely chopped spinach or other dark leafy green
1 cup cup finely chopped red onion
1 T chopped fresh chili pepper or ¼ tsp chile powder – to taste (I used jalapeño peppers)
4 small cloves of garlic minced—more or less to taste
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper (optional—I did not use this time)
if desired, add other vegetables—finely chopped carrots, green beans, zucchini, etc–optional
1 T pomegranate molasses (optional—not really a whole food)
Spoon onto baking sheet—I made 18 pakoras using a cookie scoop. (If using for burger patties, make them a little larger and flatten a bit with a spatula before baking)
Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Enjoy with your favorite chutneys!