18 May 2008

Not goin' anywhere this weekend, beans and rice

So we were supposed to head out to DC this weekend. Suffice it to say, it wasn't in the stars. Instead, we stayed in. This is fine by me, but for the fact that all our friends can't seem to hang with us either, for lack of it being in the stars. Flat out nobody is able to get to us! This is madness!

To make up for not going to DC, I made Puppy a bunch of fried food, including samosa, and Lelly's deep fried Venn Pongal. Basically, she took a recipe from my book that she had leftovers of, and figured out how to deep fry it. I borrowed the idea, and it worked out great!

In most of the great food cultures of the world, I've seen some combination of legume/pulse/bean and rice. It's not only because it's cheap, but also because it's filling, and plentiful year round. It's easy to find dried beans and rice (unless you're talking about recently, with the crazy food riots!) anywhere in the world you go, and it's relatively simple to cook up a pot. In its most basic form, it starts with any form of soaked bean you have. You then season said beans, and cook them over low heat. When they're 3/4 of the way cooked through, you add 2 times the amount of rice. You let the beans and rice cook together, until both are very tender.

It's not supposed to be firm, because it's food that the whole family, from young children whose teeth are still growing in, to the elderly, whose teeth are on their way out! In our house, we can power through a pot of this comforting thing as fast as I can make it, so it's not usually a problem of "using up" leftovers. In other homes, however, where other foods are more par for the course, you try to figure out ways to use the leftovers, so that your family doesn't mutiny on you.

What I did is take the leftover Venn Pongal, and combine it with freshly sliced and chopped up onions, a teensy bit of tomato, and lots of garlic powder, sesame seeds, and ground black pepper. I amped up the salt a bit (because you expect fried food to be a bit salty). I then picked up my potato masher, and gave the mixture a good mashing. As I mashed, I started to incorporate rice flour. You can use chickpea flour or bread crumbs instead if you want to.

I kept mashing and adding rice flour until it became a relatively firm dough. It was still damp to the touch, but it was firm. I finished it off with a generous sprinkling of grits, and gave it a final mash. This was to mix up the textures a bit. The grits aren't required, but they sure are nice!

Finally, I made them into patties, and poked a hole in the centre. This would keep the little cakes crispy all the way through. I made the patties ahead of time, so that they'd have time to rest and set up a bit. Finally, I deep fried them. I imagine you could do them in the oven, with a bit of cooking spray. I just wanted to deep fry, so deep fry I did!

They came out wonderfully, and taste great by themselves, or with some ketchup.

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