The first time I had a version of the spicy cake was back in my graduate school days in the small town of Ames, IA. One of the micro brewery/restaurants there had these spicy bean cakes as an entree item. In the early 2000's when I was new to the US, being a vegetarian meant limited eating out options especially in a small town like Ames. Most restaurants would have just one or two vegetarian options and the worst I have seen for a vegetarian option was just a salad with no protein in it whatsoever. Things have come a long way since then and with vegetarianism gaining immense popularity in this part of the world most restaurants have made their menus more vegetarian-friendly. So when I first saw this spicy bean cake in the restaurant five years ago, I was pretty excited. I dont remember much of the what the spicy bean cake tasted - two things stand out clearly in memory though - it was made of black bean and it had a very distinct smoky flavor.
1 15oz can or 11/2 cups cooked black bean
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup carrots (optional)
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (or any other green chili pepper), adjust to taste
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp oil + more for shallow frying
salt to taste
For Buttermilk aioli
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp cayenne or red chili powder
2 clove minced garlic
1/4 tsp stone-ground mustard
A pinch of dill (dried) or 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh dill
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
- In a medium bowl whisk the buttermilk, add all the ingredients and mix well.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic, jalapeno and onions. Saute until the onions turn translucent.
- Add carrots if using, saute for a minute or two and then add black beans, cumin powder and salt.
- Saute for two more minutes. Finally add brown rice, mix well and remove from the heat.
- Let it cool slightly, add cilantro if using and then mix well so the black beans and the rice looked mashed and well combined. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- Take a lemon sized ball of the mixture and flatten to make a 1/4 inch thick disc. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. At this point you can either proceed to the next step immediately or refrigerate for a few hours to overnight.
- Place a saute pan or a griddle on a medium flame, pour 1 tbsp of oil and swirl so the bottom of the pan is well-coated with oil.
- When the oil is hot enough lay the flattened cakes on the pan. Make sure the patties do not touch each other. Cook for 3-4 min or until the bottom is brown. Flip over, cook the other side till brown.
- Remove on a plate and serve warm with a salad and dressing.