Cottage Cheese & Spinach Falafel Bites

Throwing in a get together can be exhausting especially when you are clocking in a 10 hour work days and have a crowd to feed and every one has a very specific palette. A little planning goes a long way and making a to-do list for all the prep can ease off any anxiety.

I threw a Holi dinner party for my newly wed brother-in-law and the extended family. Now this is a traditional Punjabi family set up and while we might be Indo-Chinese style Spring Roll, Momos and Pav Bhaji loving folks, on festivals we like to belong where our roots are and so I braced myself to make an out and out Punjabi feast. I took some liberty to tweak only the starters and appetizers.

We thought of bringing in some variety and playing with flavors which are not quite alien to them. My mum-in-law said why not marry a version of palak paneer (spinach & cottage cheese) and chana masala (chickpeas) for them. I remembered this recipe for Spinach & Feta Falafel Balls from BBC Good Food website and adapted the same to my family’s liking.

The result was great! Two recipes which I would keep handy for future get togethers will be this one and my Spicy Peanut Balls recipe served with Tomato Thokku. The textures and flavor combinations are great.

Platter

Serves : 6
Makes about : 30-35 bite sized balls
Prep Time : 10 minutes
Cooking Time : 10 Minutes

Ingredients
200 grams baby spinach
1 can chickpeas
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
50 grams Cottage Cheese
2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 green chilly
1 tsp coriander powder
4 tsp plain flour
4 tsp herbed breadcrumbs
2 tsp chaat masala
Handful of fresh coriander leaves
Salt to taste

The original recipe called for blanching the spinach by poring boiling water over it. I just sautéed the spinach with onions just until it was soft.

In a food processor, add the onion spinach mixture along with the chickpeas. Rinse and pat dry the chickpeas to avoid more moisture in the mix.

Add cottage cheese, coriander leaves, roasted cumin powder, coriander powder, chat masala, green chilly and salt to taste and pulse well.

Once the mixture is grainy, add flour and breadcrumbs and blend well.

Remove from the food processor, grease your hands and make roll bite sized balls.

IMG_5756

Deep fry over medium heat until they have a pretty brown color. I really wish that I had some pictures for this post.

Cottage Cheese & Spinach Falafel

Serve with tzatziki and hummus.

Tomato & Roasted Pepper Dip

Tomatoes are my favourite ingredient to work with. With an abundance of so many varieties available in supermarkets, it is interesting how different varieties result in getting different textures. I prefer the Plum, Roma or cherry tomatoes the most while cooking.

As a kid, I used to eat tomato ketchup with everything – be it fries, crackers, roti, bread, rice, crisps. I used to even put it in a bowl and just eat it as is. And who can forget painting lips with ketchup and licking it clean later. Yumm! Don’t judge me, we all have done crazy things as kids!

I think as a teen, I took a liking to Italian cuisine since they use tomatoes liberally in their sauce base and other wise. Picture Caprese salad looking pretty with rings of mozzarella nestled between thick slices of tomatoes cut round and with a generous drizzle of olive oil and basil leaves or give me tomato soup at the end of the day with toasted garlic bread on the side and I’m back to being my chirpy self again.

Dinner parties see me making this tomato dip often. This also happens to be a staple dip at home, I’d even eat this with dal (lentils) rice or plain roti (Indian flat bread).

Salsa

Cooking Time : 20 minutes
Ingredients

5 large plum tomatoes finely chopped
1 medium red onion finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 Thai red chilly deseeded and finely chopped
20 ml olive oil
1/2 tsp rock salt
Salt to taste
Ground Black Pepper to taste (optional)

Blanch the tomatoes in warm water until the skin comes out clean. Let them cool and dice them finely. If you are running short of time, just chop them finely.

In a pan, warm the olive oil and add the thai red chillies. Do not deseed them since they impart the heat to this mixture. Once they splutter add the onion and cook them until they are translucent. If you would like to keep the heat quotient low, use cayenne pepper or red chilly flakes as per your preference.

Add tomatoes, cook them until they are mushy and leave the oil on the sides of the pan.

Add red bell pepper and cook them until they are soft. You can also toss them separately in a pan with little olive oil on high flame until they wilt. When I am not short of time I prefer roasting the bell pepper on high flame, peeling off the skin and then adding it to the tomato mixture. It gives a nice roasted flavor to the dip!

Season it well with salt to taste and pepper. You may also add dried herbs if you wish. I also add little garlic butter towards the end to give the mixture a glossy finish.

Dip & Dhokla

Serve with Crackers, Falafel, Pita Bread, Potato Wedges, Chips, Nachos or even Dhokla.