As I love experimenting and trying out new things, I keep looking for more sustainable options when it comes to cooking. This is one of the reasons vegetables have the main role in most of my dishes. I do eat meat, but I think that eating less meat could make a difference for the environment. One way of doing this is by changing part of the meat in our diet to plant based options. This is much easier than it sounds! Legumes and grains such as quinoa and amaranth for example contain a lot of protein, as they have a much better amino acid combination (better proteins) than any type of meat. Cooking with lentils and beans is also a way to increase plant based proteins in your diet.
This recipe is inspired by the Indian cuisine, heartwarming and rich with colourful spices. In the traditional indian recipes it is usual to cook with no meat and use different sorts of legumes that makes the dishes heartier and rich in protein. The mung balls are made with white fish that makes the texture light and juicy. Red lentils are cooked and mushed creamy with tomatoes creating a light but comforting side. The refreshing yoghurt drizzle is perfect to balance the spiciness of the meal.
This recipe is not only tasty and exciting but also perfect for a balanced sporty diet. White fish contains healthy fats and combined with the beans and lentils this dish is packed with protein. It could make a perfect after-workout comfort dinner, or just simply a wonderful warming family meal. The balls are not fried in oil but baked in the oven in order to reduce the amount of fat, that is not only a healthier option but makes cooking bigger portions much easier and hassle free.
Ingredients (for 2)
For the mung balls:
- 350 grams white fish
- 120 grams mung beans (pre-soaked for 8-12 hours)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- white pepper
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the lentils:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Garlic clove (minced)
- ½ yellow onion (finely chopped)
- 150 grams red lentils
- 3-4 tomatoes (or 400 ml tomato juice)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4-6 tablespoons of yoghurt
- Nigella seeds to sprinkle for decoration (optional)
Rinse and soak beans in cold water 8-12 hours ahead. Drain and cook until soft (about 15 minutes). It will look like they are almost falling apart. Drain well and let it cool down slightly.
Preheat oven to 180 C. Chop fish coarsely and blitz in a blender for a short time until minced. Blend beans until you get a smooth paste. Mix fish, beans, eggs and spices and form 12 balls with your hands. Line an ovendish with baking parchment, put the balls on it and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn them with a tong and bake for 15 more minutes.
Wash and cook red lentils until soft, it will take about 20 minutes. Drain well after cooking. Braise garlic and onion in olive oil, add cumin, coriander and toast for a minute. Blitz tomatoes in a blender and add it to the pan with the lentils. Cook for 5 minutes and mash it with a fork to get a creamier consistency.
Serve it hot, sprinkled with nigella seeds and yoghurt on the side.