Lentil Falafel Appetizer
Lots of bloggers tell great stories about life in their kitchen or life on their farm or in their family. I am just not into that. My life isn't so exciting. The best part is the cooking I do almost every day. There always seems to be some inspiration that takes me off on a tangent. At the moment it is the recipe contest with Canadian Lentils. Be sure to click on this link to see their Facebook page. And while you're there, 'like' my recipes and it will help me to be a winner. Well, you are all winners actually. There are some pretty amazing recipes popping up daily.
Falafel balls are usually made with a seasoned chickpea mixture. They are a traditional Middle Eastern recipe and are often stuffed into a fresh pita along with fresh tomatoes, red onions, hot peppers and a tahini sauce for one of the best sandwiches you will ever have.
This appetizer is a riff on that utilizing green lentils. The lentils are quite dry. I tried making the balls without the egg yolk but they fell apart when frying. Adding a little water helped but it was not until I added egg yolk that I had a ball that held together nicely. If you make the balls in advance they can be refreshed in a 350F oven for 5 minutes. Assemble the appetizer just before guests arrive.
Dried mint works best in the yogurt dip. You can find at a Middle Eastern grocer. Thana jeeroo is an Indian spice mixture. It was perfect for this recipe and was the best choice from my spice cupboard. Most kitchens probably don't have this. I know I didn't until I found it recently. Substitute half ground cumin and half ground coriander.
These are still good as leftovers. Just microwave for a few seconds. Delicious. They seem moister after sitting in the refrigerator for a few days or do I just have a bad memory. They are not as crispy but who cares! Someone asked how the flavour compared to chickpeas and I can't tell the difference. Don't be tempted to omit the cayenne. That little kick of heat is really nice.
This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free.
Lentil Falafel Appetizer
1/2 c. dried green lentils
2 T. finely chopped yellow onion
1 minced clove of garlic
1 tbsp. thana jeeroo
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne
lemon for garnish
oil for frying
Cook lentils in plenty of water until very tender, about 40 minutes. Drain.
In a heavy pan heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and add lentils and remainder of ingredients except oil and egg yolk. Saute until onions are soft. Puree in food processor for a minute or two. Leave the mixture chunky. Chill. This will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
When you are ready to fry the balls, add the egg yolk to the mixture and using your hand, mix it in well. This acts as a binder so the balls don't fall apart in the oil. If the mixture is still dry, add a tablespoon or two of water. Using about a teaspoon of the mixture roll into 1 inch balls.
Use an oil with a high smoke point such as canola and heat about 3 inches in a pan. Attach a thermometer and when the oil reaches 350F it is ready. Don't overcrowd the pan or the temperature of the oil will drop. Turn over so all sides become browned. Drain on paper towels.
Serve on skewers with a dollop of mint yogurt and half a grape tomato. Garnish with parsley, mint leaves and wedge of lemon. Encourage the guests to squeeze the lemon juice over the lentil ball.
Makes about 24 balls. These are very filling so if you are having other appetizers I might suggest only 1 to 1 1/2 per person as a guide for your party.
Mint Yogurt Dip
1 c. Greek style yogrt
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoons dried mint
Mix all ingredients and refrigerate until needed. Will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator.