Jamaican Lentil Patties

THAT REMIND ME OF MY CHILDHOOD

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While I scroll past recipes for spiderweb cupcakes and haunted hot mummy dogs, it still hasn’t hit me to add a Halloween themed treat to the blog until now actually, as I type away at this. 

Unfortunately, I think last week’s post for Pumpkin Cacao Rice Krispie Bars are as festive in food as I’ll get for the 31st, which is ok with me, and I hope you too. I’ll do more Pinterest pushing next year, pinky promise.  

This week, no, no Halloween goodies, but I do have another treat that reminds me of my childhood–typical me–to continue our theme from the previous post. And here’s the story: I remember being a little girl, colorful knockers bopping around on the ends of my plaited hair, standing in a huddle of other close-in-age cousins chatting amongst ourselves. It was like clockwork. At least twice a week we’d make our way to the end of the street quickly in what I now imagine to be a Charlie-Brown-like trot, if we didn’t catch trouble along the way of course, and open the doors to our beloved “corner store”, the ol’ reliable, the one that provided us with our fair share of teeth-destroying stretchy candies, along with the less cliched foods like pickled hot sausages, and of course these golden pastries–Jamaican Beef patties.  They sat high up by the man and his register in a glass case, glistening like little twinkle lights above my 3 foot body. Whenever I was fortunate enough to carry a five dollar bill I loaded up on 2 of them, never wasting my time with the veggie ones, and going straight for the classic beef!

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These little pastries helped define a large part of my childhood, and being able to recreate them as close to the memory I have of them as possible, with no beef, and all better ingredients is celebratory news for me.  I’m so excited to eat my way back to the past and share the journey with you too. If you know anything of these fabulous Jamaican patties, you might know that the filling is made with specific types of hot sauce and peppers, and the coloring on the pastry itself is tinted with the gorgeous annatto spice, however, like always, I’ve adapted the recipe to fit some of the staple ingredients I have in the cabinet, and it worked just fine for me. If you do happen to have Jamaican curry instead of a generic curry or scotch bonnet peppers instead of habanero, I encourage you to swap out my listed ingredients for those things, as little details like that can make your expereince feel all the more authentic. –but again I don’t always follow the rules for authenticity because where’s the fun and exploration in that? 🙂

I tried making these patties last year, and I even blogged about them! But I’ve deleted that post now because these are much much better being that I made the dough from scratch, and the previous recipe used store-bought, orange empanada dough that just doesn’t stand up to this delicious flaky thing!

Here’s how I made them–(Sorry-No printable recipe this time because I’m feeling a little more unorthodox this week!

Ingredients:

Pastry: 

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached All-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces/ 1/2 cup cold coconut oil (if using unrefined note that the crust will have a slight coconut flavor, otherwise use the refined version)
  • 1 flax egg  (1 tbsp ground flaxseeds mixed with 3 tablespoons warm water and set aside for 10 minutes to thicken)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ice cold water 

Filling: 

  • 1 cup green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 5-6 thyme leaves, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 habanero pepper diced (or scotch bonnet)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced celery, about 2 small stalks 
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin 
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • salt to taste
  • few dashes of Louisiana hot sauce, (or other)
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • juice of 1/2 lemon 

Make the pastry:

  1. In a large (preferably metal) bowl combine all the dry ingredients: flour, curry powder, turmeric, and salt. Cut the chilled coconut oil into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or a butter knife until the flour is coarse like wet sand, leaving some of the coconut oil the size of peas. If the coconut oil starts to melt, place the whole bowl into the freezer for a few minutes to harden it again.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together the prepared flax egg, ice water (ice cubes removed) and apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine and then slowly pour into the dry ingredients a little at a time just until it all comes together into a ball.  You may not need all the wet ingredients, but If the dough is too dry add a little more ice water. 
  3. Dump the dough out onto a floured surface, separate into two pieces and knead each half just barely enough to shape them into nice discs (don’t overwork or you will start to melt the coconut oil from the heat of your hands). Wrap the discs in Saran Wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour to harden. While the dough is hardening, make the filling!

Make the filling:

  1. In a medium saucepan with a lid, add the rinsed lentils, vegetable broth, half the thyme leaves, the bay leaf, and salt to taste. Bring the pot of lentils to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and place the lid titled on the pan so there’s about 1/2-1-inch gap allowing heat to escape. Once the lentils have cooked, about 20-25 minutes, remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, saute the diced onions and the garlic on low heat in about 3 tbsp of olive oil (careful not to burn the garlic). Cook for 10-12 minutes until softened. 
  3. Turn the heat to medium, then add the celery and the diced habenero pepper, adding more olive oil if necessary. Strip the leaves from the rest of the thyme and add to the pot. Continue to cook until everything has softened.  Once the celery is soft, add the lentils from the sauce pan, removing the bay leaves and thyme stems. Combine, then add the seasonings: curry powder, ground cumin, allspice, pepper, salt and hot sauce and combine.
  4. Add the nutritonal yeast, and hit it with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. (The hot sauce and lemon juice add the perfect amount of sharp acidity to cut through the fat in the pastry. Do not use Tabasco as its flavor is less vinegary and all about harsh heat.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and have a large parchment-lined sheet tray ready. 
  6. Remove the dough from the fridge, and using a floured rolling pin on a floured surface, roll out the dough as thinly as possible.  Cut into 6 pieces and fill with about 1/4 cup of filling on one side of the cut dough leaving about 1/2-inch of space around the edges (I made arbitrary shapes because it made it look more homemade, but cutting 6 inch circles from the dough, filling half of the circle and then folding over to create half moon shapes would be more traditional).  Dip your finger in a little water and run it around the edges of the pastry filling. then flip the other side of the pastry over the filling, and using the back of a fork, crimp the edges closed. Place back in the freezer for a least 30 more minutes, or even longer if you’re not ready to bake them off. Remove from the freezer and bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly puffed and golden. Best served warm with a little bit more hot sauce! 🙂 ENJOY!

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