Lettuce wraps originated in Southeast Asia as pedestrian street foods and have been around for thousands of years. They are essentially a delicious and nutritious vessel for fillings and are far more satisfying than salads - especially in the summer, when the heat in our bodies helps us digest raw foods. I discovered them when I came to America and have turned many a meal - from morning scrambled eggs to leftover curries or masalas - into lettuce wraps like these.
makes ~4 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 cup onion, minced
2 1/2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
1 (14-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of unpeeled grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup tomatoes, minced
1 teaspoon cilantro
Sesame seeds to sprinkle
2 heads of baby lettuce (romaine or bibb), chilled
Heat up olive oil in a skillet and as soon as the oil is just shy of smoking, add cumin seeds. They will pop and sizzle; within a few seconds, add onions. Cook on high heat for 5-8 minutes until onions are translucent.
Add button mushrooms and cook until all the liquid has been reduced. This should take another 5 to 7 minutes.
Add garbanzo beans, salt, grated ginger, turmeric and chili powder and continue cooking at low heat. If the mixture appears too dry, add 1-2 more tablespoons of olive oil.
Add half a cup of tomatoes and cook until the entire mixture has reduced to a relatively dry masala. Stir in the chopped cilantro.
Sprinkle with remaining tomatoes and sesame seeds and serve with chilled lettuce.
ideas / variations
The mushroom masala taste best if made a few hours ahead of time.
Be careful when popping the cumin seeds - if they appear burnt or blackish in color, discard them and start again.
Navy and black beans also work well in this recipe instead of garbanzo beans.
Use portobello or shiitake mushrooms to amp up the flavors.