Chickpea Fritters + Tomato Stew + Cilantro Yogurt Dressing – The Food Matters Project

Here we are again, my second week participating in The Food Matters Project. This week, Lena chose a Chickpea Fritter recipe (pg. 372 of The Food Matters Cookbook).

I didn’t have regular potatoes or collard greens, but I spent my Saturday volunteering at the Farmer’s Market and came away with more greens than I know what to do with – so spinach was the stand-in for collards. I also happened to have a sweet potato on hand that worked very nicely with the recipe… Here’s to using what you have and making it work!

I baked my fritters instead of deep frying. I’ve actually been shying away from using oil in my cooking as of late. I recently attended an open house of my soon-to-be school (The Institute of Holistic Nutrition) and one of the professors gave a talk about fats. Of course, there is controversy about the specifics, but regardless, the fact is that when you heat fats (oils) at very high temperatures, there is a risk of them going rancid and breaking down into free radicals which do all sorts of damage inside our bodies. Hmm. Doesn’t sound too appealing to me. There are many people who cook with the more stable fats butter, ghee, or coconut oil, which is a good idea to transition toward if you use a lot of oil in your cooking. I’ve found that I can get away with using little or no oil in my cooking in many cases, and that I can cook most of my meals on a lower heat setting. I’ve started using a splash of broth or water for sauteing… and so far so good.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against fat – our bodies need it to survive! I just see the benefits in trying to minimize the amount of fat that I consume that has been heated. I still pour flax and olive oils onto my salads and add them after cooking for their wonderful flavour.

One more thing – the fritters kind of crumbled and got all soggy once they hit the tomato sauce. They were still delicious, but I’m not sure about all the extra work to make fritters that then get mushed into the rest of the stew. I’ve made some standalone fritters before and these were not them. They were a bit bland by themselves and didn’t hold up too well. But as a whole meal, this really was delicious and nutritious!

The cilantro yogurt dressing absolutely took it over the edge for me. What otherwise feels like a somewhat heavy, more cold-weather meal is transformed (for me) with this light, tangy yogurt sauce. I would strongly suggest putting this on top of the dish in very large quantities. Mmmmmm.

CHICKPEA FRITTERS IN TOMATO STEW (WITH SWEET POTATOES AND SPINACH) + CILANTRO YOGURT DRESSING
slightly adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook
serves 4

For the tomato sauce
1 med-large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1/2 tsp each cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, cloves
salt and pepper
6 cups of tomatoes (I used frozen)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 bunch of spinach, cut into ribbons

Cook the onion and spices until softened, add tomatoes and a few tbsp of water and simmer until they’re all broken up and soft (you might need to add more water if using fresh tomatoes). At this point I used an immersion blender to blend the sauce – I left it a little chunky. Add in the sweet potatoes and continue to simmer 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and the sauce has thickened. Once it’s ready, turn off the heat and stir in the spinach.

For the fritters
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained (this is equal to about 3 cups cooked/canned
4 cloves garlic
1 small onion, quartered
1 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley)
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Put all the fritter ingredients in a food processor and pulse until minced, scraping down the sides as needed. You can add a bit of water if it needs it but try to keep the mixture as dry as possible. Taste it and add more salt/pepper/lemon juice if needed.

Place tbsp amounts of the mix on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the outside, turning halfway. Serve on top of tomato veggie mixture.

For the yogurt dressing
Mix 1 cup plain full fat yogurt with 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and a splash of lemon juice. (This obviously isn’t vegan, but the entire rest of the recipe is and for a vegan option you can make a quick tahini dressing with some tahini, a bit of water, drizzle of oil, a good squeeze of lemon juice, and a bit of honey to taste. Or, you can even omit the dressing as the original recipe didn’t have any. Up to you!)

Enjoy!

10 comments… add one

  1. Lena June 11, 2012, 12:47 am

    I love your changes, the cilantro yogurt dressing sounds delicious. Mine crumbled, too. Part of it is probably because we both baked our fritters, but also that nothing that would help the mixture stick together is added. Maybe an egg might help, a bit cornstarch, or bread crumbs (vegan burgers usually contain breadcrumbs).
    I’m glad you liked the recipe!

    Reply
  2. Lexi June 11, 2012, 5:29 am

    The cilantro yogurt dressing is a great addition.

    Reply
  3. Chaya June 11, 2012, 5:37 am

    I agree with you about baking. I trying to eliminate frying when something can be baked. This looks like a comfy meal which we would enjoy. Would you link this to My Meatless Mondays. I would love it, if you did.
    http://sweetsav.blogspot.com/2012/06/my-meatless-mondays-chili-fried-rice.html

    Reply
  4. Margarita June 11, 2012, 5:23 pm

    Gosh, after seeing your dish, I am now wishing I made my dish the Mark Bittman way. Looks really good and I am curious to taste for myself how these fritters are with the tomato sauce!

    Reply
  5. Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits June 11, 2012, 8:40 pm

    Wow, after seeing you dish I’m sorry I didn’t try making it. Looks delicious!!

    Reply
    1. erin June 12, 2012, 2:28 pm

      Thanks Mireya, once the weather cools down, you should definitely try the stew. It sounds like a lot of people had trouble with the fritters, but with some tweaking they can really shine… and the flavours of the dish are really nice :)

      Reply
  6. Gracie ~ Food Fascination June 12, 2012, 6:32 am

    I should try baking the fritters. My balls of chickpea slowly started disintegrating as soon as it hit the hot oil :(

    Reply
    1. erin June 12, 2012, 2:23 pm

      Mine didn’t really fry well either and they were really soggy and crumbly… which is why I baked them. A lot of other fritter recipes have binders in them… flours, starches, flax or chia, egg, sweet potato puree etc. Just something to help hold them together better. I’d still recommend baking over deep frying though ;)

      Reply
  7. Evi June 12, 2012, 12:45 pm

    This looks fantastic and delicious! Mine didn’t really turn out, and I wish they looked/tasted like yours. I’ve made fritters before, but different recipes, and it worked a bit better. Next time, right?

    Reply
    1. erin June 12, 2012, 2:26 pm

      Yes, next time! I would say stick to the fritters you’ve tried that worked out. I mentioned these weren’t “standalone” fritters – at least not to me… I wouldn’t suggest them to someone looking for a bangin’ fritter recipe. I found them more to be a way to incorporate some of the nutrition and protein from chickpeas into a meal in a creative way – sometimes I get tired of just adding whole chickpeas to things, so in that case, fritters can be fun!

      Reply

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