Yet Another Lentil Recipe & A Cauliflower Side

I am amazed by how versatile lentils are. There are so many types of lentils and there are so many different ways you can cook them that I’m pretty sure I could live on them if I had to and never get bored.

This lentil recipe is slightly spicier than other ones I’ve blogged, but it’s tasty. I have adapted it from a lentil dish a Sindhi friend of mine cooked up one Saturday morning in her apartment in Mumbai.

Again, this amount gave us enough for five main meals. The cauliflower is an Indonesian recipe that I made for no reason other than I had cauliflower and was missing Jakarta.

Indonesian cauliflower & bombay lentils

Hot Lentils

200g of Mung Dhal (but any small lentils would do, I think)

1/2 Teaspoon of Turmeric

3 Teaspoon of Fresh Ginger

1 Tablespoon of Oil

Pinch of Salt

1 Tablespoon of Tamarind

1 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar

100g Butter or Ghee

2 Teaspoons of Panch Phoran

2 Tablespoons of Curry Leaves (Optional)

3 Green Chillies

Clean the lentils by rinsing them 3-4 times in fresh water.

Peel and finely chop the ginger.

Remove the curry leaves (if you’re using them) from the stalks and chop them (use scissors – it’s easier).

Chop the chillies (again, a scissors makes this job easier). Also, when handling chillies, be sure to wash your hands afterwards – chilli juice on any mucous membrane can really hurt! Alternatively, you can wear latex gloves or just put a light film of oil over your fingers. This creates a barrier between your skin and the chilli oil.

Put the cleaned lentils, turmeric, 1 teaspoon of the fresh ginger, salt and the oil into about 500mls of water.

Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for about 40 minutes. The lentils will not retain their shape. They will disintegrate, but not in a soupy way, and have a slightly creamy texture.

While the lentils are bubbling away, prepare the tamarind. Just pop the paste into about 250mls of boiling water and leave it there for about 20 minutes. If you don’t have tamarind, don’t fret; it lends a sour taste to the mixture (it aids digestion and has other health benefits like combating nausea, too) and has a slightly binding effect, but a splash of malt vinegar will suffice – or you can leave it out altogether.

Push the tamarind paste through a small sieve into the water and remove the stones.

Heat the butter or ghee in a small frying pan and add the panch phoran, curry leaves, chillies and the rest of the chopped ginger.

Fry this spice mix gently for about 2 minutes, being careful not to let it burn.

Pour this cooked spice mixture over the lentils and stir to mix well.

I added a tablespoon of coconut chutney to this but didn’t include it in the list of ingredients because it’s not something that’s easy to come by. I think, if you like coconut, a tablespoon of grated coconut, toasted, might add the same flavour.

Bungkul Santan (Cauliflower in Coconut Milk)

1 Head of Cauliflower (about 350g)

1 400mls Can of Coconut Milk

1/2 can of Tomatoes (about 200g)

1 Teaspoon of Ground Pepper

1 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder

1 Teaspoon of Turmeric

1 Teaspoon of Salt

2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil (or Sunflower Oil or any Vegetable Oil)

Remove the leaves and tough green stalks from the cauliflower.

Separate into florets and wash.

Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok and add  spices.

Cook them over a medium heat until they release their fragrance. Take care not to let them burn. If they do, you need to start again, because burnt spices really will run the taste of your dish.

Add the cauliflower and saute for about  for about five minutes on a medium heat until covered in spices and starting to brown.

Add the coconut milk and tomatoes.

Turn the heat up until the mixture just comes to the boil.

Turn the heat down low again, cover and cook, simmering for about ten minutes.

Add the tamarind and cook for another 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is al dente.


High Horses and Horses for Courses

Jamie Oliver’s piece in the Guardian this morning got me very vexed.

As I pottered about my kitchen, fed the cats, made coffee, cleaned up a bit and thought about back to school snacks I could cook and freeze for my kids (more on that later), I composed a reply to him.

I sat down to blog and found that Jack Monroe had crafted a wonderful response to his piece, She covered most of the points I was going to raise myself. Still, I thought I’d pen a quick piece to include the other things I was going to say. Then I read this, by North South Food and it covered lots of other points I was going to make.

People are doing their best – up and down this country and in the UK and the US and countries all over the globe – to make meals on very little money. Money that is stretching less and less as the months go by. In India, for example, onions and tomatoes have doubled in price  in the past year alone. My grocery bill has increased by more than 20% in the past 18 months. Friend and fellow-blogger, Caitriona over at Wholesome Ireland produced a graphic example of her own experience of the rise in food prices.

So, I’m not going to say anything more to Jamie Oliver about his piece in today’s paper.  I’ll just pass him a roll of kitchen paper (we use it instead of tissues in my house) for the nose-bleed he’s sure to get being situated on such a high horse. Once he’s stopped wrinkling said nose, at the smelly poor people, of course. Then I’ll get back to my kitchen where I’ll continue to make cheap, delicious, nutritious food for my family and friends (because staying in is the new going out – especially when you can’t afford the latter).


So, earlier on today, I was having a look at Jack Monroe’s Blog when I came across her recipe for falafel. I’ve never made falafel with kidney beans before, so I decided to give them a go.

I tweaked the recipe slightly (as you do) to suit our palates and this is what I came up with.

Falafel Rocket & Spuds

Kidney Bean Falafel

1 Onion

1 Large Carrot

2 Cloves of Garlic

2 Tablespoons of Rice Flour

Splash of Olive Oil

2 Teaspoons of Curry Powder

400g Tin of Kidney Beans

Coconut Oil (For Frying)

Peel and grate the onion and carrot into a bowl.

Peel and press the garlic and add it to the bowl.

Drain and rinse the kidney beans.

Pop the beans in a saucepan with enough water to cover them and put them on a high heat on the cooker.

When the beans come to the boil, reduce the heat and let the beans simmer for about ten minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 2 teaspoons of the the coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.

Fry the curry powder in the coconut oil.

Add the mixture from the bowl and saute it gently for about 10 minutes.

Remove the mixture from the heat.

Once the kidney beans are done, take them off the heat, drain and rinse with cold water.

Pop them in the mixing bowl you used earlier.

Mash the beans.

Add the curried carrot-onion mixture to the beans.

Add the flour and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and mix well.

Using a soup spoon, shape the mixture into balls.

Melt about two tablespoons of the coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.

Add the falafel and fry evenly – about four minutes in total.

We had this on a bed of rocket with some boiled new potatoes.

Mushroom & Kale Lasagne

Until about  a year ago, I had never made lasagne. In my head, they were difficult, time consuming and easy to ruin.

Then I tried to make one and found out that, while they can take some time to assemble, they aren’t particularly hard. Since that first fateful foray into the land of lasagne, I have experimented with various combinations of ingredients. I think our favourite was mushroom and beetroot with an unsuccessful beetroot soup being upcycled into a very successful lasagne sauce.

I didn’t think it was kale season just yet. I thought it was more a winter vegetable, but when I saw some in a supermarket the other day, I couldn’t resist it.

This recipe is tweaked from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every Day  and gave us six generous portions. (We dug in before I remembered to snap a pic. Oops!)

Mushroom and Kale Lasagne

150g of Kale

250g of Mushrooms

4 Cloves of Garlic

100g Butter

2 Teaspoons of Dried Herbs (whatever you have)

About 9 Lasagne Sheets

40g of Hard Cheese

Salt and Pepper

750mls of Milk

1 Bay Leaf

1 Onion

1 Celery Stick

6 Black Peppercorns

50g Plain Flour

2 Teaspoons of Mustard

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

Lightly oil a 23cm square casserole dish.

Chop the onion roughly.

Clean and quarter the mushrooms.

Clean the kale and remove any tough stalks.

Clean the celery and cut off any hard ends as well as the leaves.

Grate the cheese.

Put the milk in a saucepan with the whole peppercorns, bay leaf, chopped onion and the celery.

Heat the milk until it is simmering. Milk boils over in no time, so keep an eye on it!

Once the milk has reached simmering point, take it off the heat and leave it to infuse.

Put the kale in a saucepan and just about cover it with water.

Put a lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil, then leave it to steam.

Heat 50g of  butter in a large frying pan or wok.

Add the mushrooms with a generous grinding of pepper and some salt.

Fry for about ten minutes, until the mushrooms release their juice.

Stir in the garlic and herbs.

Cook for another 2-3 minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic.

Gently reheat the milk then strain it.

Melt the rest of the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour.

Cook it for a minute or so, and remove from the heat.

Pour about a the milk – about 200mls at a time – into the saucepan and beat it until the sauce is smooth.

Put the sauce back on a low heat and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard and seasoning.

Drain the kale and stir in half the sauce.

Spread the remaining sauce over the bottom of the casserole dish.

Cover the sauce with three of the lasagne sheets.

Tip the kale over the lasagne sheets and spread evenly.

Cover the kale with three more lasagne sheets.

Spread the cooked mushrooms over the second layer of lasagne.

Put the final layer of lasagne over the mushrooms.

Spread the last of the sauce over the top of the third layer of lasagne.

Sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Bake for about 30 minutes.

Urid Dhal

With us still fridge-less (a new one is coming next Tuesday, so I’ll stop banging on about it!), I am in no position to cook double quantities of anything to store or freeze. So I cooked half the recipe that I’ve written here. It was sitll more than enough for dinner for the three of us.

This is another dhal recipe – but as we had no tinned tomatoes, it is a very simple one. I used urid dhal today, but green lentils would work just as well.

Raw Urid Dhal


200g Urid Dhal

1/2 Teaspoon of East End Turmeric Powder

1 Teaspoon of Coriander Powder

1/2 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder

1 Small Onion

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Sort through the lentils – picking out any bits of stone, dirt and discoloured lentils.

Rinse the lentils in several changes of water until the water runs clear off them.

Replace the water with clean water and soak the dhal for about 45 minutes.

Change the water again and bring to a boil.

Simmer the dhal until it is of a creamy consistency (about 40 minutes).

Peel and chop the onion.

Fry the onion in the oil.

When the onion is translucent, add the spice powders and continue to fry over a low heat for another five minutes or so.

Add the boiled lentils to the onion and spice mix.

Stir thoroughly and cook for a further ten minutes or so.

We had this with rocket, rice and a good dollop of my favourite Indian pickle – tender mango. 🙂

More Urid Dhal

Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny Soup originated in South India. ‘Mulligatawny’ was the best British tongues could make of ‘milaku thanni’  – which means ‘pepper water’ in Tamil. I’m guessing this was originally a pepper rasam, which is a type of broth but (in true stone soup style!) bits of everything got chucked in until it became what it is now.

These days, it’s a dish much favoured by Eurasians in Singapore and Malaysia   – though there are also versions in South Africa and Australia. As my fridge is on the fritz, I needed to use up lots of veg in double-quick time, so this one-pot-wonder was an ideal solution. I am sure you could vary the ingredients according to what you have in your cupboards, and I would normally make it with cauliflower not broccoli. Also, I’d usually serve it with rice (if anything), but my girls asked for pasta, so pasta they got.

Also, even though it’s called ‘soup’, it’s really a stew.  I think it’s a great recipe to have to hand for filling up cold hungry children when they get home from school (sorry to mention the ‘s’ word so early in the month).

Mulli Soup

Mulligatawny Soup (Makes about 8 Substantial Servings)

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

3 Teaspoons of Curry Paste

2 Teaspoons of Cumin Powder

1/2 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder

1 Large Onion

6 Cloves of Garlic

3 Carrots

1 Head of Broccoli (or Cauliflower)

1/2 Head of Cabbage

2 Granny Smith Apples

6 Salad Potatoes (or one sweet potato)

2 Teaspoons of Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 400g Tin of Tomatoes

1 400g Tin of Kidney Beans

200mls of Stock

1 400g Can of Coconut Milk

Juice from 1 Lime

Salt to Taste

1-2 Teaspoons of Sweetener (Jaggery/Dark Brown Sugar/Agave Nectar/Honey)

Peel and slice the carrots, onions, apples and potatoes (if they are new, leave the skin on)

Peel and bash (or press) the garlic.

Heat the oil.

Add the curry paste and fry, over a medium heat for about two minutes, until the paste releases its aroma.

Add the onion and pepper, chilli and cumin powders.

Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.

Add the garlic, carrots, broccoli, apples, potatoes and cabbage.

Saute for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are beginning to soften.

Stir in the stock, tomatoes and kidney beans.

Season with salt.

Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down low, put the lid on the pan and let it cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes; until the veg are soft, but not falling apart.

Add the coconut milk, lime juice and sweetener.

Stir well and heat through (but don’t boil).


Update: April 15, 2014 Yesterday, my nine-year-old made this for dinner. With all the peeling and chopping, it did take her a while, but she made a delicious meal for all of us.  If a child so young could do it – so can you!

Mulligatawny Soup

Curried Puy Lentils

This is another stone soup recipe. I know – I’m starting to repeat myself, and this is only my 22nd post!


I had in mind to make puy lentils today with a side dish of carrots in garlic and cumin (takes a little more effort than just boiling the carrots, but it is so worth it). That plan encountered a wee snag when I picked up the first carrot to peel it – it fairly twanged in the opposite direction to the vegetable peeler! The second carrot was much the same and, in the end, only six carrots were hard and orange like they should be (stop giggling down the back).  That put paid to my plan of a ‘side dish’ of carrots. We are fridgeless at the moment, so there were no other vegetables I could easily produce as a substitute. The only sensible option was to chuck the salvageable ones into the pot with the lentils. I did – added a few other ingredients – and disaster was averted. Most importantly, my girls, their friend and I ate well. This recipe was such a lucky success that everyone had seconds. At least.


Curried Puy Lentils


To replicate this culinary marvel (!) you will need:

150g Puy Lentils

6 Carrots

2 Bay Leaves

4 Cloves of Garlic

1 400g Tin of Tomatoes

1 Onion

2 Tablespoons of Curry Powder

A Bit of Gumption

2 Tablespoons of Oil

Salt & Pepper to Taste

2 Teaspoons of Lemon Juice

Peel and chop the garlic

Peel and chop the onion.

Peel and chop the carrots.

Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water.

Bring to the boil and allow to boil for about a minute.

Remove from the heat.

Drain (I tip them into a colander over the sink- it’s easy and you’re less likely to lose any down the plug-hole!).

Put the lentils back in the saucepan and cover with cold water.

Add the garlic, bay leaves and carrots.

Bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat,add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and allow the mixture to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile. heat the oil over a medium heat (the half-way point on your stove should do) and add the chopped onions.

Turn down the heat a little and cook  the onions until they turn translucent.

Add the curry powder and mix well.

Cook, stirring, over a low heat, for about 5 minutes.

Add the cooked lentils and the lemon juice to the curried onions.

Mix well  to heat through.


We had this with cheat’s lemon rice.  Proper lemon rice has seeds and chillies and other yummy things in it. It’s delicious, but takes a bit more preparation than my lazy version. I just chuck half a lemon (skin and all) into the rice and bring it to the boil. Let it simmer for 10-12 minutes and it’s done. Remove the lemon before serving.