These were just an amazing vegetarian alternative for the festive season. One batch serve as a veggie main course when the carnivores tucked into their turkey, these went down so well I cooked them again as a mix and match option to serve with a batch of meatballs and a vegetable daal. This recipe has been awarded as ‘Family Recipe of Christmas 2014’ by all who partook in our celebrations!!!
I know what you’re thinking – “chestnuts? cranberries? It’s all a bit of Christmas gimmick…” but it really works very well. The dish has the classic sweat – sour – spice combinations that complement one another, and the colours look amazing.
These can be pan fried or deep fried, but after some experimentation I found the best cooking method was to oil them lightly and oven bake, which gave good even cooking without burning whilst ensuring the cranberries cooked through. After all, nobody wands a mouthful of raw, sour cranberry in their celebratory meal, do they?
NB: The best type of pumpkin to use is one which is very starchy, such as the acorn squashes or Japanese pumpkins. Something link Butternut Squash won’t work so well as an alternative in this dish, but you could use something like sweet potato.
Makes about 20
- 1 small pumpkin (about the size of a grapefruit), halved & seeded
- 1 can Chickpeas
- 1 tin (about 280g) vacuum packed cooked Chestnuts
- 2 cloves Garlic, crushed
- 1 generous pinch Chilli Fakes
- handful of Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
- Sea salt to taste
- 100g Cranberries, halved
- 1 Egg, beaten
- A little vegetable oil
- Roast the pumpkin in an oven, 160oC until soft, for about 20-30 minutes
- Meanwhile carefully blitz the chickpeas, chestnuts, garlic, chilli and coriander in a food processor. You are aiming to get a coarse texture
- Pout into a large bowl and add the cooked pumpkin, scraped from it’s skin (it should be very soft)
- Add a little salt and beat well to get a good mix – check the seasoning and add more salt if necessary
- Add the beaten egg and cranberries and mix well, try not to damage the cranberries
- Refrigerate for at least 30 mins
- With wet hands shape into balls about the size of a golf ball and arrange on a baking tray. Chill again until required
- Brush with a little oil and bake in a preheated oven, 160oC until golden brown, about 30 minutes ( a little longer if chilled)