If you follow my sister's blog Once Upon a Cutting Board, you would have learned yesterday that Canadian Lentils is holding a recipe contest for Canadian food bloggers. When my sister first told me about the contest, I didn't think too much about it...I figured that every idea for lentil recipes has already been created, and that I wouldn't be able to come up with anything new or creative for the contest.
But the more I thought about it, the more determined I became to develop a recipe, and now I'm excited to share what I came up with: these red lentil bites with dried mango and Indian spices.
I decided to go with red lentils because I knew they would pair well with some of the flavours and ingredients that I like to cook with. Instead of making a soup or stew, which I would normally do with red lentils, I decided to use them in an appetizer.
I also knew that you could make tasty and healthy little oven-baked balls using chickpeas, fava beans, or sweet potatoes, so I figured why not use pureed red lentils instead?
I started by cooking the red lentils on the stove until they had softened and dried up. Then they went into the food processor along with cilantro, lemon juice, spices, coconut and chopped dried mango. All the ingredients were pureed into a creamy mixture like a hummus, then rolled into balls and baked in the oven.
It took a few tries to get the recipe just right, but after some tweaking, they turned out just how I had envisioned - soft on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside, with a nice balance of spices and sweetness from the mango. These are the perfect little snack to pop in your mouth on their own, or you could pair them with a dipping sauce - I think they would taste great with mango chutney!
And if you like the sounds of this recipe, I would really appreciate your support in the contest! Besides taste, appeal, use of lentils, and simplicity, one of the judging criteria is social media popularity. So if you have a minute, I would love to receive any comments from you on this post, or you can head over to the Canadian Lentils Facebook page and click "like" on my entry that is posted on their wall. You might find some other entries in the contest that you like there too - like these lentil peanut butter granola bars!
Indian-Spiced Red Lentil & Mango Bites
1/2 cup dried red lentils, picked over to remove debris and rinsed
1 cup water
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
pinch of cayenne
pinch of salt
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsp dried mango, finely chopped
Place the lentils and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until liquid has dried up, stirring occasionally to prevent lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Remove lentils from heat and transfer to a food processor. Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a glass baking pan (or baking sheet) with cooking spray.
Add the remaining ingredients except for coconut and dried mango to the food processor with the lentils and process until everything is fully mixed together. Add the coconut and mango and process again until the mixture has started to form a thick dough (Note: unless you have a really strong food processor, the mango probably won’t fully break down).
Scoop out the mixture using a tablespoon measure and form into small balls using your hands. Place balls in the prepared baking pan. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the balls are slightly firm to the touch and the bottoms are lightly browned (don't worry if they still feel a bit soft, they will firm up more after cooling).
Remove from oven and let cool completely before eating. Store in the refrigerator.
Makes 12 balls (recipe can easily be doubled for a larger batch).