Lentil Bhuja Casserole

7 03 2011

I’ve taken a crappy picture. I haven’t been updating. I know this. But last night, I decided, I love food, I love these recipes so much and I love getting other people excited about food, so no matter how difficult it is, or how little free time I have, or how damn lazy I feel, I will update. Hoo rah.

This update almost didn’t happen though. And this recipe almost got chalked up to the list of my recent food failures that have gotten angrily hurled out the back sliding door and into the yard (Yogurt muffins, parsnip pancakes). If you can suffer through, and yes, you will suffer, the difficulties of making these sticky little lentil balls, I promise you that it will be well worth the looming threat of a food-induced panic attack. Anyone else get these when a recipe goes wrong? My boyfriend has stories.

After being refrigerated, they will stick together a little bit more and will hold up in the oil as they fry into crispy goodness. But don’t be disappointed if they start to fall apart a bit in the sauce. Lentil balls or lentil mush, the dish is superb. Many different layers of flavor, but doesn’t become overwhelming. Instead, it’s all mellowed out with the creamy tomato sauce. The carrots melt in your mouth and the lentils are extremely filling and satisfying.

Here’s a giant space cat.

Lentil Bhuja Casserole
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

1 1/2 cups green lentils
1 large onion
1 large all-purpose potato
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. turmeric
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tb. ginger, grated
1 cup tomato puree
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup whipping cream
7 oz. green beans, trimmed
2 carrots, sliced
Pita bread, for serving

Put the lentils in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight. Drain well and place in a bowl.

Grate the onion and potato, place in a clean dish towel and squeeze to remove any excess moisture. Add to the lentils, along with the spices and flour. Mix well. Using dry hands (OK, this is the most aggravating thing ever. Your hands MUST be dry. Even if that means washing/drying hands after each ball. Or, you can use a tablespoon to scoop out the mixture, and just wipe it down with a towel after each one.) roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place on a foil-lined tray. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat about an inch of oil in a pan. Add the lentil balls in small batches and fry over high heat for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Heat another 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and ginger and saute over medium heat for 1 minute, then stir in the tomato puree, stock and cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the lentil balls, beans and carrots. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Serve hot with pita bread.

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