Planning a potluck dinner for 15 people isn’t the easy strategizing you’d think it would be. You think , hey, I’m cooking for 15 people, I need to quintuple my normal MG & Him quantities! Cut to entire tablespoons of cumin and turmeric flying around into pots and pans where they have no business being in. You think, hey, I need to make something new and creative and worth 3 Michelin stars. Witness chopped up thumbs and pureed finger nails in the effort to present something in a stylish and eat-with-your-eyes-first manner.
Some days, you know, you just need to think of yourself as Julia Child.
It was at such a moment, inspired by Pioneer Woman, and her ilk, I decided to make these kidney bean and mushroom kababs as my appetizers, with the (sneaky!) intention of blogging about them, you know, if they turned out worth eating!
The day I made them, however, all promised to be disaster and chaos. An 8pm dinner time, with an entree and a side dish to be churned out as well, meant that I didn’t come near to touching my lonely soaked-overnight beans nigh near 6pm. This, despite the fact that I’d put them in a bowl too small for the soaking, and they had exploded all over the kitchen counter top in an effort to escape from the mashing they surely knew was coming.
Have you ever heard your mother tell you not to try a new recipe on the day of an event? Because mine certainly did, and I could hear her dulcet tones echoing in my right temple as I set about finally making these kababs. Cut to me frantically dancing around the kitchen waving around a masher and yelling for Him to come chop onions, as I’d chopped off a good chunk of my left thumb, (quite necessary for grasping things you are about to chop, I assure you), and part of my middle finger already that day.
And then there was the utter breakdown of my original mix in both shallow frying, and deep frying. Sacrificial crumbs…floating to the bottom of the oily pits…wasted oil, wasted mix, wasted culinary abilities…. and thus, by seven pm, I was ready to throw in the towel and entertaining vague ideas of ordering in some mini-empanadas as my appetizer, while adding stirred yogurt, water, and an egg to the mix, fervently praying that the mix would come together. In went a test batch, and a huge sigh of relief was heaved as the patties turned into deliciously-crusty brown kababs. He was called to light up the candles, and I went at the fryer, daringly adding four patties at a time, and shaping others during the down time between draining patties. By the time 8pm rolled around, all of the patties had been suitably kababbed, and sent into the oven to keep warm while I went to dress.
Cut to 9.30pm, and the kababs had been variously described as “sooo good”, “addictive”, and “incredibly delicious.” I heaved a sigh of relief, and dug in hungrily- they weren’t bad, even if I do say so myself. Heh.
I present to you:
Red Kidney Bean & Mushroom Kababs
– 2 cups dry red kidney beans, soaked overnight (preferably in a large enough container to allow them to expand!)
– 2 jalapenos, diced, innards and all
– 8 jumbo button mushrooms minced very fine,
– 2 tablespoons yogurt, stirred to pouring consistency,
– 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella
– 1 lightly beaten egg,
– 1 red onion, diced,
– 6 cloves garlic, minced very fine*
– 1 cup breadcrumbs
– 1 teaspoon cumin
– 1.5 heaping teaspoons chili powder**
– 1.5 heaping teaspoons turmeric powder
– 1.5 heaping teaspoons coriander powder
– 1.5 heaping teaspoons dried, crushed mint
– 2 teaspoons salt
– Water as needed for the kabab mix. I needed about a quarter cup sprinkled on the mix.
– Oil for frying
Making the kababs:
Boil the beans until soft, drain, and set aside to cool. ***
Heat up a couple of tablespoons of oil in a skillet on medium heat, and add your cumin. When the cumin starts to turn brown, add the onions, and saute until golden-brown. Add the garlic, jalapenos, and mushrooms, and saute until soft and your kitchen smells like…sauteed vegetables.
Add the breadcrumbs to the beans and use a masher or a large spoon to mash the mix. Don’t mash the bejeezus out of these- you want some texture to the beans, not a puree. Start heating up the oil for deep frying these babies.
Add the vegetables, the egg, the yogurt, the cheese, and the rest of the spices to the mix, stirring after each addition. Add the water in gradual increments until mix is well incorporated and only just lightly moist to the touch. Shape into one inch/two inch patties.
Deep fry in oil until medium brown.**** Serve hot with mint-cilantro yogurt sauce (recipe coming soon!).
* Consider mincing the mushrooms and garlic together in a food processor to save time and get a particularly fine mince.
** You may need to add more chili, salt and coriander, depending on your personal tastes.
***A pressure cooker is especially useful here, for shortening the cooking time of the beans to one whistle’s worth of cooking.
**** Test oil temperature by dropping in one crumb of mix into the oil. If it rises to the top immediately, your oil is ready.