The sign of a good cook is someone who is able to breathe life into leftovers or turn scraps into something marvellous. I am enamoured by cooks like my mom, who attempt to reinvent food and transform leftovers into delicious creations.
This skill is something my mom does with oblivion and I can attest that her children are constantly awestruck by her abilities. She has this talent to deconstruct flavours or create layers of umami and depth to dishes. What’s even more amazing is how she makes it all look easy. Really though, there is a gastronomic science to her food creation process.
This recipe is a true testament of my mom’s cooking. It is entirely her creation. Its perfect for those days when you need to use all the odds and ends in your fridge – a clean-the-fridge kind of recipe.
Not to digress, but I happen to love cleaning the fridge. I love the sparkle and shine. I like the catharsis of the process of organization and knowing what you have lurking in the recesses.
The beauty of this recipe is that it is super versatile. It requires less than 30 minutes to come together and about 14 ingredients. Hello simple. Perfectly crisp on the outside. Tender, not mushy. Spicy and hearty with just enough salt. And just right for satisfying cravings for samosas in a pinch.
The basic idea is to use ingredients that merge the gap between wet and dry ingredients so you get a workable mixture. This recipe starts with a can of beans like cannellini, add in some mashed potatoes (a mainstay in most kitchens), and some greens. I like using shredded zucchini, spinach, and cilantro, but it can be any vegetable really. No matter what you use, a food processor is essential to puree things up.
These veggie cakelettes fill my vegetable obsessed heart with happiness. They can be served with a variety of Indian inspired condiments like pickles, chutneys, and raitas, but also classics like ketchup and mustard.
A few suggestions: Don’t overcook, you want these hot, but not dry. Also ensure the pan has enough oil before cooking. The patties should be nicely browned and crispy on both sides.
Samosa Inspired Savoury Veggie Cakelettes
1 can cannellini beans
2 cups mashed potatoes
4 firmly packed cups finely chopped, stemmed, washed spinach
1 zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
4 tablespoons grated ginger
1/2 onion chopped
3 fresh, hot green chili, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
A few tablespoons of chickpea flour (to form a mixture)
Combine all ingredients except chickpea flour in food processor and pulse until chunky but not smooth. Put mixture into a large bowl and add a few tablespoons of chickpea flour until its a loose mixture (not too dry or too wet). Let mixture rest for a few minutes. With wet hands, shape into cakelettes and let rest again for a few minutes. Film bottom of a large frying pan with oil and turn heat to medium. When hot, add cakelettes. Cook undisturbed until browned, about 5 minutes; turn carefully with spatula and cook 3 or 4 minutes until firm and browned.
Jessie Lehail is the author of Indian Influence, a blog that shares food stories, recipes, and photography. Reflecting a love for meshing global flavours and South Asian aesthetics, Jessie explores culture and identity through food. Find more food stories at indianinfluence.ca.