My love for Indian food has grown even stronger since living in London. There are authentic and flavorful Indian finds all over the city. In fact, even above fish n’ chips or bangers and mash, curry ranks as the most popular food in the United Kingdom. Besides the amazing curry dishes, one of my my favorite things about Indian food is how lentils and beans play such a huge role and are brilliantly used in so many dishes. I recently had a delicious lentil and rice pancake at a local Indian restaurant that really caught my attention. My inspiration to recreate healthy meals comes from some of my most memorable meals out and this one definitely fit the bill.
These Lentil and Brown Rice Cakes with feta were a success with a creamy delicate center and crispy outer crust. They are easy to make, full of flavor, and very nutritious. Lentils, the basis for these cakes, are a nutritional powerhouse. They are an excellent source of plant protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, while remaining low in fat and sodium. Lentils also have a low glycemic index meaning they are broken down and released slowly into your blood. This along with the high amount of fiber and protein helps to control your appetite and keep energy levels high. Lentils are an excellent source of folate, which is essential for cell development and keeps our arteries flexible and fluid, and are high in other B vitamins, potassium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and calcium. Furthermore, combining lentils with other nourishing foods like brown rice, spinach, red bell peppers, onions, cumin, garlic, and carrots greatly increases the over health benefit for you and your body.
Lentil and Brown Rice Cakes with Feta
makes 3 servings (serving size: 1 large or 2 small cakes)
1/2 cups dry red lentils
1.5 cups water
1 cup cooked brown rice (use instant rice to save time such as Uncle Ben’s Boil in a Bag whole grain brown rice)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red chili pepper, seeded and diced (or used crushed red pepper flakes, to taste)
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 carrot, shredded
2 cups sliced spinach
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons whole grain breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon each: sea salt and pepper
Bring lentil and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer, for 10-15 minutes until lentils are cooked. Drain lentils and rinse with cold water. Place cooked lentils in a large bowl with brown rice and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until begins to soften. Add garlic, chili, pepper, and cumin and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until softened. Add carrots and spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes, until spinach is welted.
Add cooked vegetables, feta cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, salt and pepper to the rice mixture and stir until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Mist a skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Spoon 1/3 cup mixture (large golf ball size) into pan and cook for 5 minutes until lightly browned. The mixture is pretty runny but will firm up once cooked. It helps to leave the cakes alone while cooking and wait until the first side is completely cooked and lightly browned before flipping. Carefully flip cake and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until cake is lightly browned on both sides. Serve warm with lemon juice or low fat sour cream and chives.
Nutrition facts per serving: 316 calories, 11 g total fat, 640 mg sodium, 25 g total carbohydrates, 8 g fiber, 16 g protein
BALANCE IT OUT: Serve these lentil, brown rice, and feta cakes with a huge salad or alongside your favorite vegetables for a well balanced meal. They also make a great starter or appetizer if you reduce the serving size in half.