Pretty perfect lentil bites

Mallika Basu - Pretty perfect lentil bites

Posted 18th October 2007

lentil-bites.jpgJust as I thought I was ready to strut my stuff at my colleague’s party, I was faced with a kebab crisis:

1. No green bananas

Okay, so I need to ditch vegetable kebabs in favour of vegetarian shammi kebabs.

2. Soggy dough

I’m more likely to plaster walls with this than fashion 40 little nibbles.

3. One hour to party

My nails smell of ginger. Hair smells of onions. Glitter vest needs ironing…

I don’t ever want to hear the words “Madhur”, “Jaffrey” and “perfect” spoken in the same sentence.

Panic stricken and distraught, I flung half a cup of flour into the dough, greased two shallow baking trays, spooned in the dough and stuck the whole lot into the grill.

A bloodcurdling “honeeeeeeeey” drafted the man in to help, while I jumped into the shower, squeezed into skinny jeans, did my make up and skipped back into the kitchen.

I arrived at the party on time, as cool as my cucumber raita. And mother of all suprises – the vegetable and lentil bites (as they had now been christened) were the biggest hit of the evening!

Glass of vino is one hand, I lapped up the praise, claiming they had been ridiculously simple to make from a recipe I had been using for years.

Perfection. Just the way I like it.

This recipe makes enough for 20:

250 gm channa dal (yellow gram lentils)

2 medium onions, roughly chopped

3 inch ginger, grated or chopped fine

8 cloves

2 inch cinnamon

4 bay leaves

1 tsp whole black pepper

6 large potatoes, peeled

4 large carrots

Half cup plain white four

125 gm fresh coriander, chopped

Salt to taste

2 tbsp sunflower oil

Wash the lentils thoroughly until the water runs clean. In a large pot bring the lentils to boil with the whole spices, onion and ginger. Cook until you can squish the lentil pieces easily.

I pressure cooked the whole lot for 10 minutes, after the first whistle.

In the meantime, boil the potatoes and carrots until a fork can be inserted through them easily.

Drain both the lentils and the vegetables. Remove all the visible whole spices from the lentils and combine it with the vegetables in the larger pot. Add the fresh coriander, pepper, flour and salt and mash well until you get a semi smooth dough.

Pre heat the grill to a medium heat (gas mark 5, 190 degrees). Line a shallow baking tray with kitchen foil and grease lightly with a tablespoon of oil. Spoon and smooth the dough evenly into the baking tray.

Grill for 15 minutes on one side. Cover the tray with a wire rack, flip the dough over and place back into the tray to cook the other side for another 15 minutes.

Leave the whole lot to cool, cutting into bite-sized bits when ready. This is ideally served with dhaniya pudina or mint and coriander chutney.

Recipe for mint and coriander chutney:

150 gm fresh mint

250 gm coriander leaves

Juice of 1 lemon

4 green finger chillies

1 tbls natural yogurt

Quarter pint water

Salt to taste

In a food processor, blend the whole lot. Adjust according to taste so if it’s too lemony add a handful more herbs and if it’s too spicy add a bit more yogurt. Chutney rules don’t apply.

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