Lentil Blini with Red-Pepper Sauce
Lentils, peas and beans are common ingredients in French and Indian cooking, and Raji Jallepalli uses them to advantage in her popular Memphis restaurant, Raji.
"I think that the trend in the 1990s has been toward low-fat and vegetarian cooking, and lentils are very versatile in both," she says. "This recipe uses a homemade chutney as an accent. However, chutney is sautéed much less today than in the past, which helps preserve its color and texture."
The recipe calls for urad dal, which are split black lentils. Look for them in Indian or Middle Eastern groceries.
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
Pinch of turmeric
2 large sweet red peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons water
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup split back lentils
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
To make the red-pepper sauce: In a large no-stick skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the cumin, ground red pepper, mustard seeds and turmeric. Sauté for 3 minutes, or until the mustard seeds begin to pop.
Add the sweet red peppers, water and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes, or until the peppers are soft. Increase the heat to evaporate any remaining liquid. Place the mixture in a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. Set aside.
To make the blini: Soak the lentils in water to cover for 2 to 4 hours. Drain. In a food processor or blender, purée the lentils until smooth. Continue to purée, gradually adding the water, until the mixture is the thickness of pancake batter. Add the salt and pepper.
In a large no-stick skillet over medium heat, warm 1 teaspoon of the oil. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of the batter into the skillet, allowing room for them to spread. Cook for 3 minutes per side, or until the blini are lightly browned. Transfer the blini to a plate to keep warm. Repeat to use the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and batter. (You should have aobut 16 blini, each 2 1/4" in diameter.)
Divide the blini among 4 dinner plates and top with equal amounts of the sauce. Sprinkle with the cilantro.
As prepared, each serving contains 135 calories, 5.2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 135mg sodium, 18.4g total carbohydrate and 6g protein.