Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Wednesdays with Marlena Spieler-Split Pea and Lentil Fritters...with Zchug

The spicy fritters are called Piaju and they come from India. Apparently they are most likely related to Ta'amia and Falafel...two dishes I love very much. The recipe called for yellow split peas or red lentils...so I just used what I had which was yellow split peas and brown lentils. Why not? I also eyed the condiment called Zchug and decided these little balls of joy would be even better dipped in this "Jewish Salsa". It is really a Yemenite chili sauce that is widely used in Israel.

I've learned many things, so far, cooking through Jewish Cooking..one of them is you better have a food processor or a sous chef. I love my food processor...but sometimes I wish I had two!

Ingredients for Zchug:

4-8 garlic cloves ( I used 5)
1 tsp red cayenne pepper (or two jalapeno chili's)
14 oz can of peeled whole or diced tomatoes (or 5 fresh ones)
1 small bunch of cilantro leaves
1 small bunch of parsley
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp curry powder
3-5 cardamom pods (I used 4)
1/2 tsp of chili flakes
juice of half a lemon
pinch of sugar if necessary
salt to taste

Except for the sugar and salt, put all of the ingredients in the food processor and blend...then add the sugar and salt to taste. Store in jar in fridge until ready to serve.

Wash out the food processor.

Ingredients for Lentil Fritters: Serves 6-8

1 cup of yellow split peas and 1/2 cup brown lentils (soaked overnight)
4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp root ginger (or a little hunk of it) peeled of course.I use a tsp. and scrape the peel off.
a handful of cilantro leaves
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
a large pinch of cayenne pepper or 1 fresh jalapeno
1/2 cup of besan flour (non-wheat...I used rice flour)
2 tbs kasha (I used the Moroccan kasha mix...Marlena called for couscous but I was out)
I also used a tbs or so of matzo meal
1 tsp baking powder
1 large onion, roughly chopped
vegetable or canola oil for frying
salt and ground black pepper to taste
lemon wedges to serve
[raita would be nice served with this as well...the Indian yogurt dip]

I cooked the split peas and lentils for about 10 minutes..drained most of the water except for about 1/2 cup. Put the garlic, onion, and ginger root in the food processor and blend well. Add the peas, lentils, cilantro, and a bit of the cooking liquid. Puree.

Now add the cumin, turmeric, cayenne or chili, salt and pepper, the flour and other mixtures...combine again. If it seems too thick, add a bit more water. If too thin, a bit more flour. You will be forming small balls and frying them. I let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes. You know what? I think Marlena added the onions last..after everything was blended. The onion should be chopped small though. Oh well, either way.

Heat the oil in at least a 2 inch deep pan..large enough to cook at least 6 balls at a time. I used a stainless steel, heavy-bottomed pan. When the oil is hot..you are ready to rock! I used a small ice cream scoop to form the balls. I also got my hands a bit wet to make it easier to form them. I made them a bit flat so they would cook more evenly. Cook until golden brown..in batches. Drain on paper plate or paper towels and put in oven on about 175 to keep warm. I used a grease screen to keep clean-up to a minimum. My husband will laugh when he reads that! When I cook, I use every pan I own! I did make two meals today though..a big pot of chili for tomorrow.

I would even put these fritters in a small roll and call it a veggie slider! It would be very good! A great appetizer for Hanukkah too..because it is fried. I mean, oil.. burning? Hello! I sliced some fuyu persimmons to add some "cool" after eating the spicy fritters and zchug. I will make this dish again and again.

From so much pleasure, one could plotz! Be sure to check out my blogger pals, Eileen and Shankari, for their offerings for Wednesdays with Marlena Spieler.

Last month, in Bon Appetit Magazine, Marlena's cranberry and chutney relishes were featured. I'll be using one of those during the holidays..maybe all of them.


shankari said...

It is called vadai in South India. The split yellow peas and handful of split garbanzo beans is soaked in water for about 30 minutes and ground coarsely with dried red chilli, fennel, etc and deep fried...I have to try your version now..looks great and something I would like to have on a cold winter day!

Lynn said...

Yum! I second Shankari about having them on a cold day...like today!

Eileen said...

sounds really good!