Some make it a habit to eat take-away regularly. Hubby and I rarely drop into a café or restaurant on the way home as we prefer home cooking. Instead, we eat out for most meals when on holidays. On a recent holiday to the Victorian High Country in Bright and Beechworth, we ate at a different restaurant every night for over a week. One night, every venue was closed except the Indian restaurant. Hubby grimaced. His last memory of Indian food was a disaster, too hot when he’s ordered a mild dish. So we hesitantly walked inside, sat down and purveyed the menu, ordered several dishes stressing our preference for mild options. Our first taste was made with trepidation. It was delicious and mild, the many small dishes when combined turned into a resounding flavour success. We thanked the waitress for guiding our selections and realised that maybe we’d previously visited a place with a heavy-handed chef.
These Indian fava bean and cauliflower balls are what I call fusion cooking: using flavours typically associated with a country, yet also using ingredients from other places too. Like, I gave the trial balls in burger buns to my daughter and husband for lunch, and after tasting he said “they’re like falafels”. This could be true, but the legume base of the balls is lentils. Fava beans, like edamame, are green-colored legumes that come in their own "pod." Also known as broad beans, you can purchase them canned or frozen, fresh or dried. I used quinoa flakes to roll the balls in, as I don’t use breadcrumbs, creating a flakey coating with the advantage that they’re gluten free. I packed the ½ cup of fava beans so don’t be miserly with the amount you use. Talking the amount of chilli to use; I used ½ of an 1/8 teaspoon, very little as hubby and I like mild flavours, so feel free to adjust and taste until you get you’re desired flavour. To achieve the correct texture for the balls; when all the ingredients are placed in the food processor, pulse a little until the ingredients are just combined, and stop, to avoid ending up with a paste like consistency.
· Fava beans are dense with nutrition. They have no saturated fat or cholesterol and contain a high concentration of thiamine, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, selenium, zinc and magnesium. They are also an inexpensive source of lean protein. Fava beans, when eaten as part of an overall healthy diet, may offer cardiovascular benefits and aid in weight management.
· The health benefits of cauliflower include a reduced risk of cancer, heart and brain disorders, and relief from indigestion. It helps in boosting eye health, maintains hormone balance, detoxifies the body, and aids in weight loss. This vegetable also extends its benefits to keep you away from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation, diabetes, colitis and hypertension. The antioxidant power of cauliflower helps in strengthening the immune system. It also aids in maintaining bone and cellular health, electrolyte balance, and optimum cholesterol levels.
INDIAN FAVA BEAN & CAULIFLOWER BALLS
Makes 12 medium size balls
V, GF, NF, DF
250 grams (9 oz.) frozen fava beans in pods (makes about ½ cup of soft fava beans)
¾ cup cauliflower, roughly chopped
400 grams (14 oz.) brown lentils
4 cloves garlic
1 cm ginger, minced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
¼ cup fresh coriander
½ cup quinoa flakes
2 tablespoons coconut yogurt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon chilli, to taste
salt and black pepper
extra quinoa flakes
Boil a saucepan of water and add frozen fava beans. Blanch for 3-4 minutes. Drain water, rinse in cold water and remove beans from pods. Add cauliflower to a food processor and pulse to a crumb consistency. Add lentils, garlic cloves, shallot, ginger, sesame seeds, coriander, quinoa flakes, yogurt and spices, and pulse until just combined (not a paste). Check the flavour and adjust to your personal taste. Roll the mixture into medium sized balls and roll in quinoa flakes.
Choice of cooking steps:
1. Deep fry in 160’C / 325’F hot oil until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel to remove excess oil.
2. Preheat oven to 230’C / 450’F and place balls on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 25 minutes, may flip the balls at the halfway point to prevent burning on the bottom.
Serve with coconut yogurt and spiced Indian sauce with a salad or roasted vegetables, on a burger, in green wraps or on pita with a salad.