Chickpea & Sunflower 'Meatballs' in Coconut Cashew Curry.
I've had such fun in the kitchen lately, playing around with plant based protein options in my diet. As per point 6 of my 10 life lessons from an Indian Adventure post, our dietary choices/requirements may or need not be life long. I've recently discovered that I'm finally able to stay vertical sans animal protein, as long as I sub this protein for quality plant based alternatives.
Of course finding quality protein alternatives requires some research and Pinterest has become handy for this very purpose - it's teeming with recipes crying out for hours of fun in the kitchen (if you'd like to take a look at some of the scrumptious stuff I've been pinning for your own plant based inspo you can do so here).
Today's recipe was not only inspired by my recent trip to India, but by a beautiful vegan meatball recipe I found via Pinterest, from a lovely vegan website called Ripelife. This recipe is full to the brim with nutritious, spicy flavours and with the chickpeas, sunflower seeds and cashews combined it provides ample protein content. It's best eaten fresh; the balls are not as solid as your typical meatball so during the reheating process they may lose form. Of course, it made such a lot that I was still able to enjoy it 4 days running. Feel free to serve this curry on steamed rice or even yummier, perfectly cooked quinoa.
For chickpea meatballs:
2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup GF breadcrumbs
1/2 white onion, finely diced
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 flax egg (or 1 poultry egg)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric (or 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
A good pinch chilli flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 heaped teaspoon coconut oil, for sautéing
For coconut cashew curry sauce:
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours minimum
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tin full fat coconut milk
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Ground black pepper
Coconut oil for frying
To make the meatball mixture:
Saute garlic and onion in coconut oil until translucent. In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas with a fork or potato masher. Add all other ingredients and, using your hands, combine well. Cover and place in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
To make the sauce:
Drain the cashews and add to a blender along with the stock. Blend until very smooth.
Preheat a frying pan over medium heat and add the coconut oil. Saute the onion until soft. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and saute for another minute. Add the coriander, turmeric, garam masala and cumin and toss for a minute, or until fragrant.
Now add the coconut milk, tomato paste, blended cashews and salt to the spicy mix and combine. Bring to a low simmer for 15 minutes, allowing it to thicken. Test for seasonings then remove from the heat and cover until serving.
It's time to roll!:
Preheat a large frying pan over medium heat. Roll the meatball mixture into approximately 16 balls. Add a good heaped teaspoon or 2 to your pan and coat the base. Add the balls to the pan and coat in the coconut oil, then let them fry for a good 5 minutes on one side, before gently turning them and frying them for another 5. You want them to start browning nicely here and there.
Reheat the creamy sauce a little if necessary. Place some cooked rice or quinoa on each plate, top with meatballs and finally a (very) generous dollop (or 7) of creamy sauce.