G and I were watching Mauritian Food Safari (click for video) on TV one day when, all of a sudden, he pointed out "Hey, that looks like the Indian snack that they sell in Malaysia!". True enough, after taking a closer look, I was amused to see the familiar deep-fried lentil snack (which we call "Magelek", although that does not translate to "chilli cakes") on Australian television. And no wonder, these chilli cakes were apparently introduced by the Mauritian Indians. The only noticeable difference was that the Mauritian version was round like golf balls, whereas Magelek is shaped like a flying saucer (or something like that).
These are one of my favourite snacks that I can eat for breakfast, tea or any time of the day. In Malaysia, you can get them at the Pasar Malam (night markets) or even buy frozen ones that you can deep-fry yourself. They are made from yellow split peas or dhall, and are mixed through with curry leaves, cumin and chillies. If you don't have curry leaves, you can just use coriander leaves, which is the Mauritian version.
Magalek / Gateaux Piments (Chilli Cakes)
250g yellow split peas
1 sprig curry leaves
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped (optional)
2-3 red chillies, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds (or substitute with ground cumin)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
Dash of pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Soak the split peas overnight. Transfer to a colander and leave to drain well for an hour, shaking the water off occasionally. Place in a blender or food processor, and process until most of it is finely chopped. Pour out into a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Heat up sufficient vegetable oil in a wok/pan for deep-frying. Using a large spoon, scoop the mixture into the palm of your hand to form mounds the size of golf balls. Compress them between both palms of your hand, then gently drop the patties/balls into the hot oil. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Deep-fry them until golden brown and crisp. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Serve hot or warm as a snack or for parties and picnics.