Monday 14 January 2013

Sunny lentil cakes with chilli and coconut

Sometime in the 1940s Lesley Blanch wrote a rather unusual cookbook for her time - Around the World in 80 Dishes. In it, she wrote this:
"...There is a popular misconception that southern food is rich and that southern passions run high. Nothing could be further from the truth. You must go to the north - the dark, ingrown, seething north of Ibsen household - if you want to find overwhelming passions and those rich nightmare-producing meals, which I feel may have been responsible for some of Dostoievsky's great flights. This north of the Karamazov's brothers, of Anna Karenina's ill-fated love, of Gosta Beling's Atonement, is the land of blinis and bigos, kouloubiak, and pickled herrings, sour cream, indigestion and introspection. The Mediterranean on the contrary, is all lightness - light food, light loves, air, sea, blueness and dalliance"
 And on this note, I decided to move away from the darkness and into the light this weekend with some lentil cakes. I don't absolutely agree with every word that Lesley wrote up there, yet I do admit that there is some truth in it. At this time of the year especially, Slavic food can be a bit dark and brooding. And I have been focusing on it a lot of late. I like to eat seasonally and I don't want to start pretending I'm in Greece in the the middle of July right now, because that would be weird. But lentil cakes... they are exotic and sunny - yes, easy to make - yes, versatile enough to eat for lunch and as a beer snack - yes (I put a pinch of paprika and a squeeze of lemon in my beer last night, Mexican-style), and they don't feel morally wrong to me, because the lentils are dried anyway. Then I had to decide what to eat with the lentil cakes for lunch
And I couldn't lie to myself any longer. What I really wanted to eat was this tomato salsa-esque salad with coriander, chilli and lime. Unseasonal unfortunately, but somehow much needed. As they say: "Everything in moderation. Including moderation". My quest for seasonality will continue this Winter, but my body needed some tomatoes today. And the lentil cakes were gorgeous - crispy on the outside and soft and flavoursome on the inside in a way that I didn't even anticipate. What I know is this: A combination of Kundalini, cats and spicy lentil cakes can bring light into your life if you choose to let it in


Red lentils, soaked overnight
1 red chilli
4 tablespoons dessicated coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 tablespoons flour
1 egg
Handful coriander, finely chopped
Oil for frying

Soak the lentils overnight, then drain and combine with all the other ingredients. Make little balls out of them, and keep adding flour until they stick together. Place them in plenty of hot oil and pat down, then cover and turn the heat down a bit. Fry for about 10-15 minutes on each side

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