Oct 11, 2016

The best and easiest lentil balls (gluten free)


Give falafels a break and try these amazing lentils balls. Here's five reasons why they are superb:

1) They are super delicious and have a perfect texture. Not too mushy, not too firm. And they don't contain any unnecessary ingredients. Only lentils, seasonings, onion, garlic and oat flour.
2) You only need 6 ingredients (if you count salt) to make them. There's a high possibility you don't need an extra trip to the grocery store and you have everything at hand already.
3) They are gluten-free! So people who avoid gluten can enjoy them too.
4) They are very universal. You can serve them with my tasty marinara sauce and spaghetti or enjoy them with white sauce and mashed potatoes. They are also great as a snack when cold and perfect on a sandwich or in a hot-dog or pita bread.
5) They are seriously easy to make. That makes them a great option for weeknight dinner, too!

There's also a reason why these little magic balls aren't that great. It's because as soon as you make them, you'll start to regret that you didn't make a double batch.



If you can't wait to see the recipe already, scroll down, because first I feel the urge to write a little about our recent trip to Hungary.

In the beginning of October, we were invited to Budapest by UH Fest and Estonian Institute.
To cook, to enjoy the city and to perform with our death metal band Neoandertals. We started to travel on the first day of October. Woke up really early, drove to Tartu to take a train to Tallinn Airport and then travel to Budapest. Late at night, we were finally there and arrived at our lovely hotel. It was our new home for a few nights and days. The traveling part itself is always really tiring. Especially if you have large musical instruments with you. But we had a few hours of good night's sleep and I had to be ready to cook at 10 am.

A few hundred meters from our hotel was a little market, a craft beer bar and some vacant rooms. On Sundays, these rooms are used by volunteers who work for the international organization Food Not Bombs. The day before cooking, they go to the supermarkets to collect the food that would usually go to waste. Like a bit uglier or leftover veggies, fruits and so on. The organizer of the UH Fest thought that since I'm a vegan cook and already coming to Budapest to play with my band, then it would be cool if I could be the guest chef this time.

It was lovely to see there were many volunteers this time. They were chopping, chopping, chopping and I was cooking, cooking, cooking. I have to show you the size of these pots! Here are some great photos by Szabolcs Vadnai:



This time the gathered ingredients were: loads of kohlrabi cabbage, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, broccoli, corn, carrots, paprika, green beans, squash, cauliflower, green onions, parsley, radishes, lettuce, grapes, peaches and plums. They also had a lot of different spices and herbs and some grains in their makeshift kitchen. I decided to took a huge pot of curry (plus rice), a huge pot of soup and two large containers of fresh salad and fruit salad. The preparation and cooking took about 5-6 hours so it was a proper work-out. After that, I grabbed a refreshing pumpkin ale from the nearby craft beer bar. Unfortunately I couldn't taste any pumpkin. But the beer was good.

A big pot full of spicy curry

The curry was SUPER spicy, since I added a lot of minced ginger and other spices. But with rice it was great and I hope that about 150 homeless people got their bellies full and their day brightened. It was definitely an experience!

On the same night, we were eager to discover the vegan food places in Budapest. Good old Happy Cow was a big help with its recommendations. Napfényes Étterem was our first choice and it became our favorite spot. We ate there FOUR times! They have two locations in Budapest and we visited both. First night we tried their smaller restaurant. Of course we had to order some goulash while in Hungary. It was beany and delicious! I always crave soups when I travel. All the airports should offer more vegan soups! But this restaurant also had a large pizza menu. And their pizzas...WOW! Absolute perfection. Every inch was well seasoned, had tons of tasty toppings with quality vegan cheese and it all was on a delicious slightly ashy pizza crust. Our favorite was Coal-burner pizza. It contained tomato sauce, vegan sausage, seitan, smoked tofu, red onions and vegan cheese. Very meaty indeed!

Since the pizzas were huge, we enjoyed the leftovers the next day on our hotel's balcony:


On the same night, we visited the local art center Trafo and checked the bands that opened the week-long UH Fest. I really liked Killing Sound from UK. They sounded dark and heavy and the cinema's sound system was definitely helping.

Next day was our day off and we walked around Budapest and hunted for our next vegan restaurants and VERY cheap beers (at a bar, you could get a beer for 0, 89 euros). Our destination was Vegan Love, which is famous for their incredible burgers. And incredible they were. I ordered the spicy Mexican burger with fries and smoky paprika mayo. Too good!


Budapest itself is a really big city and a really beautiful city. It has a lot of gothic architecture and a for a metalhead like me, it was really enjoyable. After walking around all day, we were pretty tired and jumped back into our hotel beds.

Tuesday was our time to perform at the UH Fest. After many hours of sleep and of course, more pizzas, a world's loveliest volunteer Vera picked us up from the hotel and took us to the venue. After our soundcheck, it was time for...you guessed it, more pizza! Vera took us to our favorite place again. This lovely vegan restaurant had a live jazz night, so in addition to our tasty pizzas, we also enjoyed some great music. The waitresses were actually laughing when they saw us again and wished us a good upcoming show. Soon we hit the stage and the I really loved it. There was a lot of people and the crowd was crazy awesome. After the show, I heard that nearby neighbors called the police three times. Sorry, Budapest!

Photos from our show by Máté Bach:



The last photo is by Marton Berta.

After the show, we went back to our hotel. Slept for a good three hours and it was time to pack our bags and head to the airport again. Our flight was at 6:45 am and before that, we enjoyed our leftover pizza :D I must honestly say it was so good to land in Tallinn and to get far away from the airport and travel on the land again. We took a train to Tartu and from Tartu we drove back into our home in the forest :)

So this was our little travel diary. But now let's get to the lentil balls recipe!



Preparation time: 25 minutes passive, 15 minutes active. Total: 40 minutes.

Serves: 30 - 35 balls, 5 - 6 people

  • 1 ½ cup / 350 g uncooked green or brown lentils (the wider kind not these ultra tiny ones)
  • ½ onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup / 90 oat flour or regular flour (about 8 heaping Tbsp)

Directions:

Boil the lentils in plenty of water until really soft and rather mushy. It takes about 20 - 25 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Carefully squeeze out all the excess water. Squeeze and mash the lentils with your hands until they are broken up and really mushy. Add thinly chopped onion and garlic clove, curry powder, salt and oat flour. Mix carefully and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Heat up a pan and pour plenty of oil in it. Make your hands wet and form small or medium lentil balls and pan-fry them until crispy and golden brown on both sides. It took me two panfuls. Serve these wonderful balls with my delicious marinara sauce and spaghetti or with this warm sunflower seed sauce and mashed potatoes. They are also great as a snack when cold or served in a hot-dog or pita bread.

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