DSC_1018The lentil, a super food. With maybe less then a glamorous reputation. The lentil suffers often from a reputation as being only suitable for vegans who have no choice but to survive on pulses and grains. Think again. As mentioned last week, a recent trip to Syria was a fantastic food experience and in one particular restaurant, Naranj at the Bab Sharqi, they served a cold lentil mezze that was really amazing and I still think about it. It was cold with coriander, caramelized onions, a lot of garlic and maybe saffron… I had to go back and order it again. Anyway, easy enough to recreate a version of it but I don’t think I could ever capture the taste.

Contrary to popular belief, (particularly in France), lentils don’t need to be cooked to death. This is really a very important point. Overcooking is probably why so many people are put off eating lentils. There is an assumption that they take hours to cook and in the end are just a gooey mushy dark mess. It is not so. 10-15 minutes of simmering will render your red or yellow lentils crunchy and perfect. Some brands and varieties need longer and making a lentil soup requires more cooking time but otherwise don’t allow them to just sit there stewing. This is a fast filling alternative to a bowl of pasta and is full of iron and fiber and all kinds of ridiculous scientifically proven health benefits which won’t get detailed here. Suffice to say they can take on all kinds of great flavours eaten as a salad or still hot.

These spicy lentils absorb the spices well and have roughly the same cooking time as quinoa so often I add a cup to the mix too.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon each of the following:
turmeric
hot curry powder
cumin powder


half a teaspoon:
brown mustard seeds
cinnamon
butter
white pepper

1 clove garlic crushed
1 inch root ginger chopped finely
some fresh coriander
handful of raisins
1 cup yellow lentils

Greek yogurt – enough for one serving or as you wish
1 cup Quinoa (optional)

Making

Heat some oil in a pan until very hot and throw in the garlic, onion and ginger. Toss for a few seconds then immediately turn down the heat. Add the different spices one at a time stirring quickly so nothing burns. Add the raisins and the butter. To the paste add your lentils still stirring. Let the lentils absorb some of the spicy paste. The quinoa could be added here too.

Add 2 cups of cold water and bring to the boil. Then turn down heat to quite low and simmer for no longer then 15 minutes. The water should be more or less absorbed by the lentils.

Serve hot with fresh coriander and a dollop of Greek yogurt.