These lovely curried spinach potato pancakes bear some resemblance to latkes, but don’t include eggs, wheat flour and are prepared with a lot less oil. The recipe calls for ‘besan’ aka chickpea flour, which is the typical binding agent for Indian fritters, and also adds some protein to the dish. After months of asking storekeepers ‘Do you carry besan?’ and being met with puzzled looks, I realized that the besan, called for in my Indian cookbooks, is actually the same thing as chickpea (or garbanzo) flour. (Why didn’t ya say so?) Of course it was in my pantry all along.
Out of curiosity, I decided to cook half the batch of pancakes in oil on the stovetop, and bake the other half in a 375 oven for about 45 minutes. The verdict? While the taste was pretty similar, the oven batch came out a bit more chewy and crispy, but the stovetop version had a lovely deep brown color, that only grease can provide. Since the enjoyment of food can be so visual, I have a slight preference for the latter. But truly, both are good options and baking will save you a bit of fat.
These are great as part of a light lunch or dinner, or fabulous at brunch!
- 1 lb russet potatoes (about 2)
- 1 large bunch spinach, washed, trimmed and chopped into ½ inch ribbons
- 1 medium onion, small dice
- 1 T canola oil
- ¼ c chickpea flour
- ½ t baking powder
- 1 t curry powder
- ½ t ground cumin
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ t salt
- canola oil or canola spray for cooking
- mango chutney or yogurt as an accompaniment
- Heat 1T canola oil in a large saute pan, add onion and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, curry powder, cumin and a pinch of salt and stir to integrate. Add spinach and cook partly covered about 10 minutes until it is fully cooked and there is little liquid in the pan. Set aside to cool.
- Grate potatoes. Form potato into baseball-sized balls and squeeeeeeze out as much moisture as you can. Then lay potatoes out in a thin layer and top with paper towels, soaking out as much additional water as possible. Potatoes will feel less wet, and a bit crumbly.
- Add spinach mixture to potatoes and mix thoroughly. (It may be easier to mix with your hands). Combine chickpea flour, baking powder and salt and add to potatoes, mixing well.
- Divide into portions the size of a heaping ¼ cup. Flatten each patty until less than ½ inch thick and about 3 inches in diameter.
- Preheat oven to 375. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and place pancakes on sheet. Bake for 25 minutes and flip, cooking another 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
- In a large saute pan, heat 2 T canola oil. Cook on first side about 10 minutes at medium-high heat and flip when browned. Cook another 10 minutes, pressing gently on each patty. Transfer pancakes to a paper towel-covered plate to remove excess oil for a minute before serving.