Spicy bean cakes with cilantro-yogurt sauce
As a child, I knew I was in for a treat the second my nose pulled in the engulfing scent of hot frying oil. On special occasions, my mom prepared a snack of pakoras– battered, spiced vegetables fried until crispy. We devoured these crunchy fritters hot out the fryer. I dipped them into sweet ketchup when I was younger, but as my palate matured, I moved on to the more traditional condiments, like tamarind or cilantro-mint chutney.
These spicy bean cakes are a fun cross between bean patties and my mom’s pakoras. Their crisp exterior and warm, flavorful interior pair beautifully with a dollop of cooling cilantro-yogurt sauce. Because of their snackable yet filling size, you can serve the cakes as a snack, appetizer, or along with greens and your favorite flatbread for an easy weeknight meal. Best of all, the recipe makes use of already cooked beans, so the dish comes together rather quickly.
Choose a creamy bean variety, such as Flor de Junio, to easily mash and form into a patty. Or, go with a 50/50 mix of creamy and firm beans (like Negro beans) for a little more texture. To ensure these come out as wonderfully as intended, make sure to serve the bean cakes warm, just after frying. And do take the extra step of chilling the yogurt sauce before serving– it brightens the whole dish.
–Karishma Pradhan, founder, Home Cooking Collective
Check out our interview with the recipe creator!
- Servings: makes ~8 cakes
- Time: 35 minutes (plus bean cooking time)
- Cookware: blender, wire rack (if you have one), cast-iron pan or other heavy-bottomed pan, thermometer (if you have one)
What you'll needCilantro-yogurt sauce
- ⅓ cup yogurt
- 2 tbsp loosely packed cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
- Juice from ½ a lime
- Coarse salt
- 1-½ cups of cooked and strained Flor de Junio beans (or mixed variety), cooked according to the Primary Beans cooking guide
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- ⅓ cup panko
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt (use just a pinch if your beans are already salted)
- 1 egg
- ⅔ cup neutral oil for frying
- For serving: Flaky salt and lime wedges
Make the cilantro yogurt sauce: In a small blender jar, blend yogurt, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Prep the bean cakes: In a medium bowl, mash beans with a fork or your hands until mixture forms a somewhat smooth yet slightly chunky paste (small chunks of beans are okay and add a nice texture to the cakes). Add cumin seeds, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, cornstarch, panko, and salt. Whisk in egg and mix until well incorporated.
Fry the cakes: Set aside a wire rack or paper-towel lined plate. Place a cast-iron pan (or other heavy-bottomed pan, such as a Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add oil and heat to 350 F, ideally using a thermometer to check the temperature.
If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a tsp sized portion of the bean mixture into the pan. If it sizzles, it’s hot enough. If it bubbles vigorously, it is too hot, so you will want to turn the heat down.
Next, form the bean cakes. Scoop ~3 tbsp of the bean mixture in your hands, cupping to form a ½-inch thick cake. Repeat with the rest of the cakes.
Gently drop cakes, dividing as necessary so that the pan isn’t overcrowded, into the oil and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until nicely browned. Place the cakes on the wire rack or plate to drain any excess oil. Serve warm with the chilled yogurt sauce, flaky salt, and lime.
This recipe is part of our all-new Food memories series– a rotating collection of stories from our favorite home cooks, chefs, and bean enthusiasts, featuring all your favorite beans and showcasing recipes, tips, and bean magic from around the world.