Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cardamom Tomato Lentils and Savory Aebleskivers

[This meal was part of an ingredient challenge from Marx Foods.  Can you make something tasty with at least 2 of these green ingredients?  dill pollen, green cardamom, green lentils, mint crystals, bamboo rice.  Thanks all of you who voted!]

Cardamom and Lentils.  It's a trivia bonanza!

1.  Lentils - are so much a part of European cuisine, you can't escape them, past, present or future.  Heck, there were a series of consuls in the 150 years BCE all with the family name of "Lentulus"(listening to E. Gibbon's _Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire_ is doomed to leak into your life.)  Future tense...? Don't talk farm subsidies.

2. Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland & Iceland) has an approximate population of 24 million people or about 0.3% of the world's population, yet consumes 16% of the world's cardamom!  In their baked goods, in case you were wondering.
(India, the UAE and Saudi Arabia consume about 29% - but it is from around there, and some of the Saudi's mix it 50-50 with coffee!)

3.... oh just get to the food.

The whole thing was clambering for some yet to be invented Fried Pancake meets Dal (daal, dahl, the BEST iteration of lentils) ultimate meet up.  Between the pancake throw-down, and the dill pollen making everything smell like dill pollen, there seemed one natural 1st stop.

dill, tomato, lentils and crispy spicy aebleskivers - warm and happy tummy.

When you make this right, with fresh cardamom, there will be enough spice in the aebleskivers (those pancake ball things) to give your lips a little tingle.

chopping stuff
sauce pan with a lid (or 2 if you want this to go faster)
aebleskiver pan (or a skillet*)
stirring spoon
small bowl
larger mixing bowl
disher or small measuring cup for aebleskiners/pancakes
toothpicks or skewers
mortar & pestle or spice grinder


tomato sauce -
14.5 oz can PLAIN tomato sauce (or some of your own)
2 Tbs oil, butter or ghee
6 green Cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 medium spicy dried chili (e.g. japones, del arbol, serrano, aji amarillo)

lentils for dal -
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil (or replace these fats w/ 2Tbs ghee)
1.5 C Green Easton lentils
1/4 purple onion - diced (white or yellow could work too)
1/2 tsp dill pollen (+ a bit more for sprinkling)
salt to taste

1 egg
1 tsp sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2C milk
1/2C tomato water** (or 1/2C water or broth w/ 1Tbs lemon juice)
2 T melted and cooled butter - or ghee
1C AP flour
1/4 C whole wheat flour (it can be all AP, but this creates a richer flavor)
1 t baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda†
1/2 tsp fresh ground cardamom seeds from 2-3 pods
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper


In a sauce pan, melt/heat the fats over medium heat.  Add the spices (cardamom, cinnamon, bay and chili) and heat until they sizzle and the cardamom pods swell.  Turn the heat down to low, and with the lid in one hand, pour in the tomato sauce.  Use the lid to tame the splatters.  Tune the heat until you get a simmer, and let it go for 25 - 30 minutes.  It is ready when you can taste the spices in the sauce, and a little bit of an oily sheen may develop on the top of the sauce.  (This is a completely "do ahead" task, and double or more this - freeze extras for later, and other things.)
I used this puppy to pop open the
pods then, take the seeds out,
discard the pods and crush the seeds

Dice the onion.

Pop the little black seeds out of the cardamom pods, and crush them in a motar & pestle or spice grinder.
Measure out all the ingredients for the aebleskivers, whisk together the wet stuff (egg through butter) in a small bowl, and in another bowl, mix all the dry stuff (flour through pepper)
And have extra butter on hand for the pan fryin' of the batter.


Dal - In a sauce pan, heat the fats over medium heat, and add the purple onion, and sizzle it until it starts to get brown edges or translucent, add the dill pollen and stir in the lentils.
Add the water up to the top joint of your pinky.  Adjust the heat to simmer the lentils with the lid on.

At about 20 minutes, check the liquid level and the doneness of the lentils.  If the lentils look dry, add a little more water.  If the lentils taste done (unlikely), pull them off the heat.  Keep an eye on the lentils over the next 10 - 15 minutes - they should be approaching done.
When the lentils are tender and creamy to the bite, take off the lid and dry them out (let liquid boil/simmer off until it look like they are too dry/gummy) and add 1C of the spiced tomato sauce.  At this point also taste for salt, and add what is needed.

Aebleskivers - Heat the pan over medium heat.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry.  Whisk them together to get a pretty smooth batter (need not be perfect).  Put a little bit of butter (about 1/2 tsp) into each well in the pan.  As it sizzles, fill the wells almost full.  Wait about 3 minutes - until there is a firm crisp shell on the bottom.  Use the toothpicks/skewers to turn the aebleskiver "dome-up."  The other side takes about 3 minutes too.

Serve up the lentils, maybe sprinkle on a tiny pinch of pollen, tear open a crispy hot cardamom spiced aebleskiver and eat up!

*This all still works if you only have a skillet.  Just make this batter in to pancakes about the size about the size of the palm of your hand.

For the record:
This is an aebleskiver pan
** It's winter.  How am I to get tomato water?
I cheated.  I sent a can of tomatoes through the blender, and let it drain through a suspended tea towel/jelly bag.  You can also freeze ice cubes of tomato water in the summer and seal them in a zip-top bag.  Or use your own canned tomatoes.  Just know the left-over pulp is pretty flavorless.  And the canned tomatoes will have some extra salt - so adjust your recipe accordingly.  Oh, and if you do use canned tomatoes DO NOT use the water in cooking beans or lentils.  Calcium citrate is used in the canning process (to keep the tomatoes firm).  The resulting calcium ions in the water reinforce the pectin and starch bonds in the lentil's cell walls stopping them from softening.

† You are right, there is not normally baking soda in aebleskivers.  However, since these are savory, and use much less sugar, the batter needs a different tenderizer.  Baking soda with it "basic power" (it is alkaline rather than acid) help make all the starches more tender.  And the acid in the tomato water (or lemon juice) reacts with the sodium bicarbonate to give a little extra lift.

1 comment:

Shannon Grande said...

love the savory pancakes! and what a wonderful lentil-cardamom sauce :)