I just finished a book by Lauren Weisberger, the author of The Devil Wears Prada, called Everyone Worth Knowing. It’s one of these light, ridiculous reads, the kind of book I feel exceedingly guilty holding when I’m standing in line at the airport book store, but tend to thoroughly enjoy once I get past the fact that I’m reading something shallow and light. Paradoxically, one of the points the book makes (yes, it does have a few, if you look hard) is that sometimes the enjoyment of a book is exactly what makes it worthwhile, no matter how you might feel judged for picking it. I would love to say I’ve read War and Peace, but to a certain extent I agree with the book; it doesn’t matter what you read as long as it gives you something to think about. Why should I pose as a more intellectual person than I actually am? Romantic comedy is my bag, and I won’t deny it. Save the Tolstoy for someone else.
Anyway, there’s a scene in the book where the main character’s hippie-crunchy-vegetarian parents have her over for dinner, and she doesn’t know what her mother plans on doing with a giant sinkful of vegetables. Her new crush (who’s a chef) waltzes in and whips up something fabulous, and for some reason the whole thing inspired me to cook with chickpeas, even though they had no part in the book . . . oh, the brain is a strange instrument. FYI you might find yourself making this raita regularly as a snack.
Recipe for Chickpea-Broccoli Fritters with Quick Cilantro Raita
Recipe 104 of 365
Though I initially intended these to be a vegetarian version of something like crab cakes, they’re really quite closely related to falafel. Serve them alone, on a big green salad, or folded up into tortillas, lavash, or pita bread, with the yogurt sauce on the side.
TIME: 40 minutes
MAKES: 3 to 4 servings (12 cakes, unless you mangle some)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups finely chopped broccoli, stems and florets, from 1 small branch broccoli
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (same as garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
2 large eggs
2 packed tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Vegetable oil, for frying
Quick Cilantro Raita (recipe follows)
Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil, then the onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook the onions, stirring, until they’re soft and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook for another minute or so, stirring, then add the broccoli, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the broccoli is bright green. Remove from heat.
Put the chickpeas in a sturdy mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher until about only half the beans are still whole (you want some smashed, but not all of them). Add the eggs, cilantro, breadcrumbs, and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Add the onion/broccoli mixture, and stir again – the mixture should hold together when you squeeze a little in the palm of your hand.
Heat a large, high-sided skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat. Coat the bottom with about 1/4” of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot (a small piece of the chickpea mixture should sizzle when you put it in the pan), form the mixture into patties by scooping it up with a 1/4 cup measuring cup and releasing the patties into the palm of your hand. Carefully add about a half dozen patties to the oil. Cook (undisturbed) for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown, and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining chickpea mixture, and serve warm, with the raita.
Quick Cilantro Raita
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.