This Saturday, 26 January will mark the 225th year since Australia was discovered by Captain Cook. Many people feel very patriotic on Australia Day and for some reason this has brought about a very primeval attitude for a lot of people, compelling them to eat copious amounts of meat on this day.
Unfortunately, this attitude is strongly encouraged by the media and spokesperson for Meat and Livestock Australia, Sam Kekovich in the form of a very bold and confronting campaign to eat meat, particularly lamb, on Australia Day. The controversial "lambassador" as he's been labelled has been delivering his message "Don't be un-Australian, serve lamb on Australia Day" to us for 8 years now.
Well this "long-haired, tofu-sausage-eating hippy" is very pleased to have recently come across a fantastic counter-campaign in response to the (in my opinion) appalling message Sam Kekovich and the meat industry is trying to beat us down with.
Animal protection organisation Animals Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that investigates animal cruelty and conducts strategic public awareness campaigns to expose animal abuse. Their goal is to significantly and permanently improve the welfare of all animals in Australia and believe that a better world can be created for all through promoting kindness to animals.
Their current campaign "Everyone deserves a day off" is a brilliant response to Sam Kekovich's plea to Australians to eat lamb on Australia Day. I urge you to watch this video. It not only delivers a strong message about the rights of our furry friends – it's also very, VERY funny.
This is what I'm bringing to my cousin's Australia Day barbeque this Saturday:
Lentil Keftethes (faux meatballs)Inspired by Peter G. at Souvlaki for the Soul
Makes about 48
Note: You need a decent amount of ground coriander seeds for this recipe. I recommend buying it in bulk from an Indian grocery store. It's so much cheaper than buying the little jars from the supermarket.
- 2 cups uncooked brown lentils
- 1 potato, peeled and diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 carrots, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons plain flour
- 5 tablespoons ground coriander seeds
- Olive oil for frying
- Boil lentils in a separate pot and boil potatoes in another pot.
- Meanwhile, cook onion in 3 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat until caramelised, stirring occasionally. Takes around 30 minutes but worth the effort for that golden, sweet stuff. This is multi-tasking at its best with three burners going on the stove at the same time.
- After the 30 minutes, add garlic, cumin and cinnamon to caramelised onions and stir thoroughly. Cook for one minute, then remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.
- When the potatoes are tender, drain and mash. Set aside. The lentils should be cooked by now as well. Drain them and press them in the strainer with the back of a wooden spoon to remove excess water and set aside.
- Prepare a bowl and a large plate for dipping and flouring the keftethes. Put one lightly beaten egg in the bowl and sift the flour and coriander together over the plate. The coriander creates a beautiful crust when fried.
- When lentils, mashed potato and onion mixture are cool enough to touch, combine them together in a large bowl with carrot, oregano, mint, sunflower seeds, rolled oats, salt and pepper to taste. Use your hands to mix well. Taste before adding egg.
- Add one egg and continue to mix with your hands (there's something very pleasurable about mixing this sort of gooey stuff with your bare hands). The mixture will be quite sticky so you will have to work quickly and have a bowl of water near by for frequent hand rinsing. If you have time, refrigerate the mixture for a couple of hours to firm it up.
- Carefully form oval-shaped balls the size of a heaped dessert spoon, dip in egg first, then roll in flour and coriander mixture, and place in one layer on a separate plate ready for frying. (You'll need at least three plates if doing the full batch of keftethes.) Repeat until all mixture is used up.
- Heat around 1/4 cup of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan on high heat for 2 minutes. Turn heat down to medium and fry keftethes for 8 minutes, turning frequently. The keftethes will develop a lovely crust but will still be quite soft inside so turn them carefully to prevent them from falling apart. I use two dessert spoons to gently turn them.
Cooked keftethes can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to three days. To reheat, just lay them out on a baking tray and place in the oven at 180 degrees celsius for 15 minutes to crisp them up again. They're also great to eat cold!
Makes one small bowl, just enough for 24 keftethes
- 200g natural Greek yoghurt (or home-made yoghurt)
- 1 small Lebanese cucumber
- 1 small garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of Greek honey (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Peel and grate the cucumber. With your hands, squeeze out as much moisture from the cucumber as you can.
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.
- Transfer to a smaller serving bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.