Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Poldark's Lemony Lentils

Another recipe from the excellent Robin Ellis, Lemony Lentils serves four and would make a perfect accompaniment to the Spicy Grilled Chicken Breast featured last month. The publishers have kindly allowed me to reproduce this extract from Robin's latest book, Healthy Eating for Life, which contains over a hundred simple and tasty recipes in the Mediterranean style and is available in paperback tomorrow. 

I love this recipe for its fresh, zesty taste, and the fact that it finally gives me something brilliant to do with the jar of red lentils sitting forlornly in my kitchen cupboard. 

"This recipe is hands-on for the first half hour or so, as it builds in the taste. Then it chugs along on a low heat for 50 minutes as the lentils dissolve and the dal forms. The finish involves sautéing a small amount of onion, garlic and dried red pepper to stir into the mix to lift it. We ate it recently as an accompaniment to the Spicy Grilled Chicken Breast. It is adapted from a recipe in Ismail Merchant’s excellent and quirky cookbook Indian Cuisine.

1 small onion – peeled and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
225 g/8 oz red lentils – rinsed until the water runs clear
a short stick of cinnamon
1 tsp fresh ginger – grated
250 ml/½ pint (approx) stock
250 ml/½ pint (approx) hot water
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
juice and the shells of a lemon

To finish
2 tbsp olive oil
½ small onion – sliced
1 small dried red chilli – chopped
1 garlic clove –peeled and chopped

  1. Cook the onion over a low heat in the oil until it is opaque – about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the lentils, cinnamon and ginger, and mix in. Cook these together gently for about 10 minutes, keeping the heat low and stirring from time to time to avoid them sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. A nutty aroma starts to rise from the darkening lentils, as they cook.
  3. Add the stock and hot water, cayenne and salt. Bring to the simmer. Cook gently for a further 10 minutes, then add the lemon juice and the empty lemon halves and stir it all together. Cover the pan and continue cooking on a very low heat – use a heat diffuser if available – for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
  4. In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the sliced onion. Let this colour for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Add the chilli and sliced garlic and continue cooking until the garlic begins to brown. Add this to the lentils and mix it in."

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