When I was in my first year at uni, I made the discovery that by cooking from scratch I could make food that was both tasty and very cheap and that veggie food was even cheaper still. Although I now much more frequently treat myself to somewhat less veggie ingredients, this is a recipe that has stayed with me – particularly because the ingredients are usually just sitting in my cupboard, waiting to brighten up an empty fridge situation or is often a special treat for when I’ve been to give blood!
1 onion (reds really nice but white’s fine too)
2 tbsps cumin seeds
a good hefty whack of cayenne pepper (I like mine really spicy so use between 2tsp – 3 tsps of the stuff but when cooking for others usually tone it down to somewhere between half and a whole tsp)
1 or two cloves of garlic to taste
1 tin of red kidney beans (can pick and choose whatever tinned beans really but these are cheap and carry the spices nicely)
Paprika – roughly a tsp
a couple of handfuls of breadcrumbs
Beaten egg (usually less than half a beaten egg does it)
Sunflower oil for frying
Chop the onion and fry gently on a medium heat until the onions are soften and nicely browned. Chop or mince the garlic and add these for the last minute or two of the onion’s cooking time, along with the cumin seeds.
Whilst the onion is cooking, drain the tin of beans and place in a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher to achieve a coarsely mashed texture. When the onion, garlic and cumin are cooked, put these in the bowl add the paprika and only HALF of the beaten egg. Add some salt and pepper to seasons to taste, then mix in the breadcrumbs a very little bit at a time. This it the point where it really pays to get your hands involved so you can feel the texture of the mix. The mix should be fairly moist but should mould nicely into balls. Adjust this by adding either more egg or more breadcrumbs. It’s taken me a few mistakes to get the feel for this so practice makes perfect but what I’ve found is that if you’re not sure, err on the side of a slightly wetter mix.
Dust a plate with flour and shape the mix into fairly thick patties (I usually make 4 large ones from this quantity but you can get 6 slightly smaller ones from this mix), gently coating both sides of each patty with a little of the flour and setting them aside. They are ready to cook at this point and can sit in the fridge until anything else is ready. They take about 8-12 minutes total time to cook. They’re best cooked in sunflower oil if you want them to crisp up a little bit.
I usually serve these in a soft bun with a few home made oven chips, some home made coleslaw and handful of salad. They keep in the fridge cling-filmed for a day or too and freeze very well, taking just a few hours to defrost.