Have you ever played Telephone? You know, the children’s game where one person whispers a story to another, who whispers it to another, and so on, until the last person retells the story and it has lost all semblance to the original? I’ve been thinking that food blogging is a lot like that: Someone posts a recipe that looks so good that other food bloggers just have to try it; only, when we make it, we inevitably change it, maybe because we don’t have the same ingredients or because we don’t like one of the ingredients (damn cilantro! ) or just because we have a complete inability to follow a recipe as written (guilty on all three counts). So one person blogs about a recipe, which is often an adaptation of a published recipe, another adapts the adaptation, and still others adapt the adaptation of the adaptation. I’d love to be able to track a recipe all the way from its first publication to its last adaptation, but I’m afraid there is no such thing as a last adaptation: Each person who cooks a recipe is likely to change it in one way or another.
Which brings me to today’s recipe. When I first saw Red Lentil & Rice Patties with Cilantro Sauce on Catherine’s blog, Albion Cooks, I knew it was something I had to try. Her description of its “sophisticated combination of flavors” grabbed my attention right away, though I was worried that I wouldn’t get the full experience because I absolutely cannot eat cilantro: it tastes like soap and leaves me, literally, foaming at the mouth. So I was prepared to make the sauce with mint instead until, mid-recipe, I ran into a little problem: I didn’t have any coconut milk in the house, or even enough coconut to make coconut milk. I had about 1/4 cup of dried coconut in the fridge, and that was it. So I decided to make the burgers pretty much as Catherine had but replace the sauce with an adaptation of my Miang Kum sauce. So in the process of adapting Catherine’s recipe, I wound up adapting my own recipe (which is actually an adaptation of another recipe), too!
Whatever the process, the end result was, as my husband kept repeating, out of this world. The mellow taste of cumin in the patties is an unexpected surprise beneath the sweet, coconut-mint flavored sauce. Sophisticated indeed!
Red Lentil and Rice Patties with Coconut-Mint Sauce
1 cup Red Bhutanese rice (brown rice should work too)
1/2 cup red lentils
3 1/2 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, finely diced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp sesame oil (optional but adds great flavor)
Coconut-Mint Sauce (recipe follows)
I simplified the recipe by putting the first 7 ingredients into the rice cooker and cooking them until it shut off. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you may be able to cook it over low heat in a covered pan, as you would rice. Or, follow the instructions in the original recipe.
When the rice mixture is done (and the rice is completely tender), let it cool until it’s easy to handle. Add the cornstarch and mix gently. Shape into patties and fry in the sesame oil until browned on each side, about 3-4 minutes. Serve with sauce, below.
Oven option: Bake on silicone baking mat or parchment papers at 350 for 40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes. No oil needed.
Nutrition (per serving, using 1 tsp. oil): 286 calories, 27 calories from fat, 3.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 449.5mg sodium, 298.1mg potassium, 54.8g carbohydrates, 4.8g fiber, 1.7g sugar, 10.1g protein, 7.8 points.
If you bake them instead, without the oil, the count is:
Nutrition (per serving): 276 calories, 17 calories from fat, 2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 449.5mg sodium, 298.1mg potassium, 54.8g carbohydrates, 4.8g fiber, 1.7g sugar, 10.1g protein, 7.5 points.
1/4 cup toasted coconut
1 tablespoon ginger paste or 1 tsp. minced ginger
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons agave nectar (or other sweetener)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic
Puree all sauce ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Nutrition (per serving): 51 calories, 17 calories from fat, 2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 74.9mg sodium, 57.6mg potassium, 8.6g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 6.3g sugar, <1g protein, 1.5 points.
I’m happy to report that this was kid-friendly but also a little embarrassed to note that E. ate it with (close your eyes, foodies) ketchup! She loved it, though, and wants me to make it again. I’ll try to get her to eat it with the sauce next time, but I’m not making any promises.
Harvest Hands Los AnonosOctober 14, 2009 at 8:28 pm
OK, I've tried lots of recipes on your blog and have liked the all. These red lentil rice burgers are awesome, but I do have to say that the mint sauce takes the prize! I just want to make quarts of it and put it on everything!! I wonder if it could be cooked and canned?
Thanks for your blog and your photos. It is inspiring!
williamNovember 8, 2009 at 11:06 am
Hi, Susan. I've been wanting to try this recipe for weeks, and finally had the chance tonight! I used a glutinous red-rice from Laos but realized later it was probably different than Bhutanese and Genmai would have been closer. I also made a double recipe (before realizing there was not quite enough red lentils) and it almost blew out the top of the rice cooker! When I went to the store to buy mint, they had both peppermint and spearmint, and I didn't know what the difference was until I Googled it later, and realized that spearmint is better for savory dishes and peppermint for sweet (do you have a preference for this recipe?) One other thing I did differently was to coat the patties in Arrowroot before frying (as the original recipe) rather than mix constarch in as you suggested. As a result I suppose, it was very messy to handle, especially with sticky dark red rice. Nevertheless, despite all these "mistakes" and deviations, they turned out excellent. I had some doubts about the coconut mint sauce (rather than cilantro), and added only 1.5tsp of Agave syrup, but it too matched perfectly. I've frozen several uncooked leftover patties to enjoy again in the near future. Thanks!
AnonymousMarch 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm
I just found your beautiful blog and can't wait to try your adaptations.
BTW, the link to the original recipe is not good anymore.
AnonymousMarch 12, 2010 at 1:13 pm
oops, it's the Black Lentil & Black Rice Wedges with Dipping Sauce at Something in Season which is the bad link.
EllieutMarch 19, 2010 at 7:32 pm
I just made these (typing with a full belly!) and had to write to say how good they were! I followed your rice cooker method using brown rice (I did cook the onion until brown first) and then used the original blogs recipe for the cilantro sauce. I put the mixture of rice and lentils in the freezer to cool off (should have planned ahead) and I think that made them stick together well because they did not fall apart while frying despite the fact that I realized at the last minute I didn't have any cornstarch! The next time I make these the only adaptation I will make is to serve with a slice of lime and use lime in the sauce instead of lemon. Delish! Thanks! So many of your recipes have become regulars in my kitchen. ツ You rock!
katiekay7June 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm
Love this!!! One of my favorite recipes. AMAZING!! I tend to make this alot during the summer months.
My favorite way to make it is to do a double batch of the sauce (use all the mint leaves from a 2/3 oz. package of mint) and then mix it in with the rice patties “batter” itself so flavor is cooked/mixed right in.
Divine fried in the sesame oil but is yummy in the oven cooked without oil.
katiekay7June 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm
Note – For the first time I used brown rice. Cooked on stove top. Seemed to not change taste at all. BUT it was really liquidy… I need to double check how much water is needed for that much lentil and that much brown rice (maybe it’s different then the red rice?) Anyway, currently cooking it in the oven as a kinda rice casserole instead of burgers.
YonaJune 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm
Hi Susan, I made these tonight as a starter in my first ever 3-course vegan dinner party for 3 friends. I don’t have a rice cooker so had to cook everything separately and mix it together at the end. The patty mixture was a little runny and didn’t stick together so I added extra flour, cornflour and egg-replacer which helped. I made mini patties and served them with a double-serving of the sauce. My patties were a little bland – will use more cumin next time – but went really well with the sauce which was so easy to make and really delicious, I’ll definitely use that recipe again. Thanks 🙂
LainaJune 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm
Hi Susan. Came across this recipe and it sounds great! Do you think I could bake these and it would work just as well?
SusanVJune 19, 2011 at 8:31 pm
I’m sure baking would work, Laina. Hope you enjoy them!
LainaJune 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm
One more question, do you know how many this recipe makes? I don’t suppose you have a nutritional breakdown, do you?
Btw, the telephone game comment brought back lots of memories. 🙂 And I’m guilty on all three counts as well.
I love the idea of following the recipe adaptions to see if the recipe has any of the original ingredients it had to begin with………. too funny, but as you said, I guess there’s no end to the alterations.
SusanVJune 20, 2011 at 7:26 pm
Laina, I’m afraid I didn’t make a note of how many it made, and it’s been such a long time since I made them. If you make them, let me know how many you get and I can probably figure the nutritional info per patty.
LainaJune 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm
Wow, these are over the top delicious!!! I cooked the rice and lentils this morning separately because I used brown rice; and assembled and baked them tonight. It makes 8 regular sized patties. I can’t believe the sauce …………..it’s so good. I can taste the toasted coconut in the sauce. Yummo!!! I’m surprised that there aren’t more comments on this one.
I baked them 350 for 20 minutes each side. Thanks for another fantastic recipe.
LainaJuly 28, 2011 at 11:26 pm
Thought I’d update. I froze half of the patties and when I wanted one, I microwaved on defrost in a ziploc bag. It helped them to come out moist. Just thought I’d mention that in case anyone is interested in freezing theirs.
I love this recipe!!!
DCVeganSeptember 24, 2011 at 11:15 am
Sounds yummy. And everything you wrote about cilantro could have been written by me. Thanks for this great website. It is my go-to when I’m trying to pair what’s in the fridge with what’s for dinner.
AussieAmandaNovember 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm
I made these for dinner last night and I couldn’t get them to hold together really well… So after I’d finished eating I had to cook up the rest of the mix for left overs, I packed the mix into my silicone muffin tray and baked them and they’ve come out really well!
ShezJuly 6, 2013 at 11:23 am
This is one of my family’s favorite dishes (I normally make it with the cilantro sauce). Yesterday I didn’t have cilantro and my mint looked miserable so I tried it with the dressing for your massaged kale salad with sweet potato. It’s delicious with that dressing! This morning I added a patty to my salad and that’s even more delicious.
Angela W.November 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm
OK, I just bought a rather HUGE bag of red lentils as Costco, and I was looking for recipes that would be different than the typical red lentil stew-like porridge. I’m so glad I found this recipe! I made the lentils and rice in my InstantPot electric pressure cooker yesterday. They seemed a bit too runny and I really didn’t think any amount of corn starch would make them hold their shape enough to cook. So, I put the whole batch in the fridge. Today, to my delight, the rice/lentil mixture seemed perfect to cook in a pan. I didn’t even mix in the cornstarch.
Result: Fantastic! These are so crazy good. It was hard just to make enough for lunch! I want more! I didn’t use the coconut sauce because I have a problem with having coconut in the house in that I always want to EAT it ALL. So I try not to bring it into the house. Period. I know others in this comments section have raved about the coconut sauce, thus my other reasons for NOT making it! 🙂
Anyways, these are phenomenal simply with a dash of salt on the patties hot out of the pan. I think it would make an awesome substitute for hash browns for brunch. Or, really any time you want something yummy!
LivieApril 30, 2014 at 10:00 am
What a wonderful recipe! used a mixture of brown and red rice, replaced the onion with 2 shallots, reduced the water to 2.5 cups, and boiled the first 7 ingredients for 15 minutes in the pressure cooker . Initially, I thought the mixture had become way too mushy. But after letting it cool down in the fridge, I had a wonderful glutinous mixture and it was very easy to shape patties. I didn’t coat them with the starch, but instead sprinkled black onion seeds and a some red chillie flakes on top before baking them in the oven. They came out grand. I lacked the right ingredients in my pantry to make the sauce, but that is on the agenda for today. Thank you Susan!
sharonAugust 12, 2014 at 9:11 am
Another delicious recipe, Susan. Thank you! The texture of the burgers is lovely and the flavour is delectable. The coconut mint sauce is out of this world! This is definitely a recipe that’ll be revisited many times in my kitchen.