Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Chickpea Patties with Carrot & Watercress Salad and Raita


I think it's often tempting for veggies to ignore foods that are typically seen by meat-eaters as being 'What Vegetarians Eat.' For example, a jowly colleague at a work buffet might loom over your shoulder chortling about the 'rabbit food' you've stacked your plate with, and commenting on how "no wonder you're all so pale when all you people eat is bloody lentils, hurr hurr," and you instantly feel like never eating lentils again just to spite them. Chickpeas are probably among the foods which have suffered on this count, but I feel more well-disposed towards them when I remember how cheap, versatile and tasty they can be.

On one of my weekend trips back up North I managed to put together these chickpea patties. Most of the ingredients are typical store-cupboard stuff, so they make a good Emergency Tea! They're very easy, very cheap and very versatile - you can serve these as shown, in a burger bun with all the trimmings, or the same mix in smaller balls as a snack or party food. If you don't have time or can't be bothered to make your own raita, the shop-bought versions are perfectly good.

You do, as with most burger-type things, need a food processor. They take up a lot of space but they're dead good.

Serves 2

What you need

For the chickpea patties

1 can of chickpeas
2 slices of stale-ish bread, torn up
1 free range egg, beaten
3 spring onions, roughly chopped
Half a bunch of coriander, leaves torn off the stalks
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 red chilli, de-seeded if you want to reduce the heat, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

For the side salad

1 carrot, grated
Large handful of watercress

For the raita

100ml pot of plain natural yoghurt
About 1/4 of a cucumber, diced into small cubes
Handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
A pitta bread each to serve (if you like)

What to do

It's best to do the raita first, then that can be chilling in the fridge while you do the rest. Put the diced cucumber in strong kitchen roll or a clean tea towel, and squeeze some of the water out of them. This helps to avoid a sloppy dip! Stir the cucumber and chopped mint into the yoghurt, and put in the fridge until you want it.

Drain the chickpeas and put in the food processor, along with the egg, the torn-up bread, spring onions, coriander, garam masala, cumin, chilli, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Whizz it all up until it is smooth enough for your liking - use your preference here, some people prefer a few big lumps of chickpea.

Put a large non-stick frying pan on to heat, with a thin coating of oil, ready for your patties.

When I make this it's usually too runny to treat like a burger and form the patty shapes before you fry, so I take big tablespoons of the mixture and put them straight into the hot pan. You should get 4 out of the mixture - 2 each. You can shape them a bit with the spoon once they're in. Give them about 5 minutes on that side, then flip them over. Using the biggest spatula/slice you can find and flipping them in one swift movement means they're less likely to fall apart. Fry for 5 minutes on the second side, then transfer them onto some kitchen roll while you plate up.

Put the pitta breads in the toaster, if you're using.

Add a big handful of watercress and another of grated carrot to each plate (the raita dip also does well as a salad dressing), then add a big dollop of raita, the patties and a toasted pitta bread.

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