This week it is my turn to host the Food Matters Project. It took me quite a while to choose a recipe for everyone to cook. It was the mix of legumes, vegetables and ethiopian spices that made me decide on this recipe for chickpea fritters and vegetables.
When I reread the recipe this week, it seemed a bit strange to me not to cook the chickpeas. I have done that before with lentils, and found that some did become soft but others not, so I decided to not follow the directions Bittman gives and cooked the beans until they were soft.
For the rest I tried to follow the recipe as closely as possible, but decided to bake the fritters in the oven instead of deep frying. Baking them worked well, but they ended up being a bit crumbly. It wasnt a problem in this recipe, but if you wanted to use them in a pita bread, this might not be the recipe to use. And I also used a mix of chickpeas and white beans, because I did not have enough chickpeas in the house (and want to buy more only after moving).
I really like how this recipe turned out, and I'd say without the deep-frying, it is not as labour-intesive as Bittman mentions in the recipe notes. And I hope you liked it, too. I am looking forward to seeing what everyone else came up with.
Braised Chickpea Fritters and Vegetables
Bean fritters, which are much like falafel, are commen throughout the Mediterranean, Middle East, Africa and India. In this Ethiopian-inspired recipe, they're braised in a spicy tomato sauce with potatoes and collard greens. (For a totally different flavor profile, see the variation.) Since this recipe is a little labor-intensive, I like to make a big batch and build a party around it. Serve with brown rice or Easy Whole Grain Flatbread (page 512).
1 3/4 cups dried chickpeas
Double recipe of All-Purpose Tomato Sauce (page 194), made without the 3 optional ingredients (see Step 1)
2 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp each allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, and turmeric
pinch of cayenne, optional
1 pound all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 bunch collard greens (about 1 pound), cut into ribbons
2 garlic cloves
1 small onion, quartered
1 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
salt and black pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
vegetable oil, for deep frying
1. Put the beans in a large bowl and add water to cover by 3 to 4 inches. Soak for 24 hours (add more water if necessary to keep the beans submerged). Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce (see page 194) in a large pot or Dutch oven. Instead of using the optional ingredients, add the ginger, garlic, and the spices to the onions as they cook in Step 1. (You can make the sauce up to this point several days ahead of time and refridgerate; gently reheat before proceeding.)
2. When you're ready to finish the dish, add the potatoes to the sauce and adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily. Cover and cook until almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the collards and turn off the heat.
3. Drain the beasn well and transfer them to a food processor with all the remaining ingredients except the oil; pulse until minced, scarping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add water a tablespoon at a time if necessary to allow the machine to do its work but keep the mixture as dry as possible. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed.
4. Put at least 2 inches of oil in a large, deep saucepan; the narrower the saucepan, the less oil you need, but the bigger the pan, the more fritters you can cook at the same time. Turn the heat to medium-high and heat the oil to about 350°F ( a pinch of batter will sizzle immediately). Carefully drop heaping tablespoons of the bean mixture into the hot fat. Fry in batches, without crowding, until nicely browned, turning as necessary; total cooking time will be less than 5 minutes. As the finish cooking, add them to the tomato sauce.
5. When all the fritters are done, bring the tomato sauce back to a boil, then lower the heat so the mixture gently bubbles. Cook, adding more water as necessary to keep it from sticking, until the fritters soak up some sauce and the greens and potaotoes are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.
Notes: I turned things up a bit, it is probably quicker that way. Start with cooked beans (or canned). Prepare the fritters, preheat the oven. Start the tomato sauce. Bake the fritters for about 30 minutes. Finish cooking the sauce in the meantime. Add the potatoes about 5 minutes after putting the fritters in the oven, the greens another 10-15 minutes later. Add the fritters just right before serving or keep the seperate until on the plate.