I will never get to try all of the recipes in my cookbooks.
Ok, so maybe I don’t even want to try all of them, but clearly there are plenty that I would like to try. In practice, though, I will only ever attempt to recreate a small fraction of the dishes that lie between the bookcovers, and not for want of trying. Yes, technically, I could probably survive quite well on a much smaller cookbook allowance. What am I saying, I could (as it were) go cold turkey on my cookbooks as long as I had access to the ever-growing wealth of food writing and recipes available on the internet and the necessary patience to filter through it all. That, however, is really not the point. As recently observed over at the Constables’ Larder: “Cookbooks are a purchase of desire, not necessity.” How true that is.
This was all brought into sharp focus when, for the second time in as many weeks, I happened across what sounded like a must-try recipe on the net, only to find that the recipe already lurked within the dark recesses of my cookbook shelves. This time it was a Delia Smith recipe for what she calls Chickpea, Chilli and Coriander Cakes. She could just as easily have called them Indian Chickpea Burgers, which perhaps does not sound quite so elegant but would be equally descriptive. These little patties of mashed chickpea and spices are definitely Indian in flavour and just beg to be accompanied by raita and some sweet chutney.
As to the reason for not having noticed the recipe heretofore? My only defence is that, when I think “Chickpea Cake”, I reach to the shelves for Madhur Jaffrey or Atul Kochhar or Das Sreedharan. When I think “Christmas Cake”, I reach for Delia. That’s just how it is. Or was, at any rate.
Chickpea, Chilli and Coriander Cakes
- 225g dried chickpeas (about 550g cooked weight)
- 1 small onion
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 1 small green pepper
The Herbs, Spice and Zing:
- 15g fresh coriander
- 2 small red chillies, deseeded
- 1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
- 1 heaped tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 3 tblsp greek yoghurt (omit for dairy free)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- chickpea flour (aka gram flour) or wholemeal flour or polenta for dusting
- Cook the chickpeas using your preferred method. Longhand, that means soak the chickpeas overnight, drain, then cook for an hour or so until tender. I note that Delia suggests cooking the chickpeas for 30 minutes. I have yet to meet the chickpea that gets anyway tender in that amount of time without a pressure cooker being involved…
If you do have a pressure cooker, then use that to speed things up or, if using tinned chickpeas, just drain and rinse.
- Finely chop the onion, garlic, pepper and chillies.
- Heat some butter in a pan (or oil if you’re avoiding dairy), add the onion, garlic, pepper and chilli and fry gently for 5-10 minutes until the veg soften and start to turn brown.
- Meanwhile, toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes, then grind using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
- Add the ground spices and the turmeric to the pan and fry for another 30 seconds or so.
- Place the cooked chickpeas and the fresh coriander into a food processor and whiz until chopped but not a puree.
- Put the processed chickpeas in a bowl, add the cooked veg, lemon zest, lemon juice and yoghurt (if using). Mix and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Form the mixture into patties, dip in beaten egg and dust with flour. Delia suggests gram or wholemeal flour. You could also use polenta for a different finish.
- Heat some oil in a pan. Fry the patties over a high heat until golden brown, a minute or two each side.
- Serve with yoghurt or a yoghurt-based sauce, such as a raita, and sweet chutneys or pickles, plus salad (Delia suggests a red onion salad)
- Delia says it serves 4 as a main course. I would say 3, based on the rate at which I scoffed the mixture, both before and after it was cooked!