Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Beets me...

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I celebrated our anniversary by taking our own little eating tour of the Boston area. You know, he had me at "Honey, let's go eat for 8 hours straight..." I just knew he was the one for me :-)

One of the more memorable foods we tried that day was the beet potato latke at the Red Lentil in Watertown. These latkes were so delicious that, weeks later, I've been totally craving them. I mean, what's not to like? Fried+root vegetable=guaranteed awesome.

A lot of latke recipes call for the use of eggs as a binding agent, but I've been trying to go vegan for a while now, and I thought that beet latkes would be just fine without eggs. And I was right! This is where that big box of Ener-G egg replacer that's been chilling in the pantry forever came in seriously handy.

I got my recipe from here, but I changed it up a little to give it just a little more Indian flair. Kind of like a flat pakora. I absolutely LOVE Indian food. Pretty much, if you ask me where I want to go out to eat, I will most likely give you the name of a local Indian restaurant. And if you smell curry, it might be because I am standing next to you....

But without further ado, let's beet it!

Beet (and carrot) rockin' latkes

6 cups coarsely shredded beets/carrots ( I had 2 Godzilla-sized beets, which gave me about 5 cups shredded, and then I threw in 1 cup shredded carrots; your ratio may be different, but just make sure most of your 6 cups vegetables are beets)

6 scallions/green onions, chopped; green and white parts (less is fine if you're not an onion fan; but, as my boyfriend knows, I do like onions :-) )

8 Tbsp Gram/chickpea/besan flour You can find this in Indian food stores, or often on the international foods aisle of your supermarket; If you don't have it, all purpose flour will be just fine

1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground pepper
Ener-G egg replacer equivalent to 3 eggs
Canola oil, or other frying oil of choice (I wouldn't personally choose olive oil, as it has a low smoke point)

Some kind of chutney or spicy/sweet sauce for serving (the traditional latke condiments of applesauce or (vegan) sour cream might be very nice too

1) Put together your egg replacer mixture. It will mix better if you stir it and let it sit for a little while. Also, using warm water will help the mixture to go into solution more easily than using the cold stuff. The regular ratio per "egg" is 1 1/2 tsp powder to 2 Tbsp water, but I knew my beet mixture would be a bit liquidy, so I left out a little water; For the equivalent of 3 eggs, I used 4.5 tsp powder and 5 Tbsp water; Stir as well as you can (there may be some clumps, it's the nature of the beast), and then leave to sit for at least a few minutes

2) Coarsely shred your beets/carrots, either in a food processor with shredder attachment (definitely quickest) or with a hand grater. I mostly hand-shredded mine, but both methods work fine. Keep in mind though, don't wear your best shirt either way. Beets stain! Next, soak up a good part of the juice from the shredded veggies with paper towels, squeezing the mixture a bit. The veggies don't have to be bone dry. Mine weren't. I definitely don't have the patience for that BS when I'm hungry...Just use your best judgement, but soak through a few paper towels at least. You don't want your latkes to fall apart in the pan.

3) In a second bowl, stir/whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and other spices, then add this to the beets. Add your chopped scallions, and then the egg replacer. Stir carefully to fully combine. The flour is sneaky, so make sure it's all mixed in!

3) Line a baking sheet or some plates with a few layers of paper towel, and then heat a thin layer of oil in a frypan over medium heat. Drop the beet mixture by 1/4 cupfuls into the heated oil. Press them about as flat as a thick-ish pancake with the back of a spoon, and try to make sure they are an even thickness all around. Fry for 4-5 mins, and then flip over and cook 4-5 mins more. Try REALLY hard to resist the urge to flip them early. I know you want to peek underneath, I did too, but give them 4-5 mins. You may want to turn your heat down to the low side of medium now that the oil is hot.

4) Once your latkes are cooked, drain them on the paper towel. If you'd like to reheat them at a a later time, put them on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

5) There was a celery/cilantro relish recipe at the above link, but I really didn't have fresh cilantro, so I kind of tried to make a celery "slaw" with some vegan mayo. I wasn't a huge fan of it actually (as pretty as it looks), so I mostly served the latkes with tamarind chutney, which I always have in my fridge at any given time. You can usually get tamarind, onion, coriander (cilantro) or mango chutney on the international aisle of your grocery store, and all of these would be great on the side of the beet latkes. I had some guacamole in the fridge too, and it wasn't too bad either. The Red Lentil served their latkes with cilantro vinaigrette and apricot marmalade. Some kind of sweetened mustard could be awesome too.

Being a serious Indian-foodie, I made a coconut milk yogurt and champagne-mango lassi to drink alongside my latkes. Champagne mangos are basically like the best mangos I've ever had in my life. They are also called Ataulfo mangos, and I got mine at Whole Foods. Suffice to say, yeah, they're awesome. I could eat one for dessert, and I do not say that at all lightly.

But back to the point...

Lassis are really great, cooling, yogurt-based drinks that are wonderful to have with spicy Indian foods. Using coconut milk yogurt instead of the dairy version is a really great way to veganize a lassi without feeling like you've lost anything. Blend a cup of ice, then add a couple of chopped mangos and 1/2-1 cup of plain coconut milk yogurt to taste. Add a little more ice if you like a little more liquidy-ness. As you can tell, I actually liked my lassi so much that I drank half of it before I remembered to take the picture. Vote of confidence right there...

Anyway, enjoy guys.

And Happy spring!

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