Your vegetarian friends will be mightily impressed by these tasty cakes with an Asian inflection. You can find the tamarind in an Asian or Indian grocery.
do ahead Fritters can be made a day ahead, stored at room temperature and reheated in a 300° oven. Slaw and dressing can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.
2 onions, quartered and sliced thin
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1⁄2 pound yellow split peas
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil, divided
1⁄8 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
1 carrot, shredded
1⁄2 head green cabbage, shredded
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus 6 cilantro sprigs (for garnish)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
1⁄2 cup tamarind puree
1⁄4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 Combine split peas with 2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Boil until peas are soft, about 30 minutes. Drain well and transfer peas to a bowl.
2 Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over moderate heat and add onions. Cook until browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer onions to the bowl with split peas. Mash mixture until pureed. Stir in baking powder, eggs, flour, salt and pepper until evenly combined. Let mixture sit for 10-15 minutes.
3 Meanwhile, prepare slaw: Heat oil in a skillet over moderately high heat. Add carrots, cabbage and jalapeño and cook until just softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar, salt, pepper and cilantro.
4 Stir together tamarind puree, sugar and soy sauce.
5 Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over moderately high heat. Form half-dollar size cakes from mixture and, working in batches, fry until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. If serving immediately, transfer cooked fritters to a baking sheet and keep them warm in a 200° oven.
6 To serve, set 2 fritters on each plate. Top with slaw and drizzle with sauce. Garnish with a cilantro sprig.