Bon Appetit’s South Indian Lentil Cakes with Raita

This recipe was taken from the September 2011 issue of Bon Appetit and I modified it slightly as noted below, mostly due to what ingredients I had, and I’ve made enough Raita to know how I like it.  These were so good, kept well the next day and held together really well, which surprised me.

Recipe for Raita:

The Bon Appetit recipe tells you to roast a whole head of garlic in the oven which, don’t get me wrong, tastes amazing.  But it was a hot day and I didn’t feel like running the oven for 45 minutes for one head of garlic, so I didn’t bother.  As you will see at the end of the recipe, the cloves are for topping the cakes with at the end.  If you want to follow the recipe, they ask you to just squeeze the baked cloves of garlic out, intact, after roasting them at 450F, wrapped in foil for 45 minutes.  The rest of the recipe as I made it is complete below, although I left mint out of this recipe as I didn’t have it on hand.

  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 c. plain low-fat yoghurt
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped peeled seeded cucumber (I always grate my cucumber when I make raita)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. fresh mint
  • 1 tsp. minced seeded jalapeno 
  • 1/2 tsp or more fresh lemon juice
After you figure out what you wanna do with the garlic, stir cumin in a small dry skillet over medium  heat until deep brown, 2-3 minutes.  Let cool.  Finely grind in a spice mill.  Mix yoghurt, cucumber, cilantro, mint, jalapeno, and 1/2 tsp lemon juice in a medium bowl. (I used at least 2 tbsp. lemon juice as I like it really lemony).  Stir in cumin.  Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.
Lentil Cakes
  • 1/2 c. mixed dry legumes (such as lentils and whole mung beans). I used yellow and green lentils.
  • 1/4 c. basmati rice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced (I used a thai birds eye chili)
  • 1 c. leaves from pea tendrils, arugula or spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 c. peas, chopped ( I used edamame because I like them more than peas)
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 c. chopped scallions
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Rinse legumes, place in a medium bowl with rice.  Add water to cover by 3″.  Let legumes and rice soak at room temperature for 3-5 hours.  
Drain legumes and rice, transfer to a food processor.  Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeno.  Process until grainy paste forms (add 1-2 Tbsp. water if necessary).  Transfer to a large bowl, mix in tendrils and next 6 ingredients.  
Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Spoon 4 scant 1/4 cupfuls of batter into skillet, flattening with the back of a measuring cup into 1/4 thick cakes.  Reduce heat to medium, saute until golden brown and cooked through, adding 1 more tbsp. of oil when cakes are flipped, about 4-5 minutes per side.  Repeat with remaining oil and batter. Divide raita among plates, top with roasted garlic cloves.  Place 2 cakes on each plate.  
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