If you’re a health nut (I am not, but still in the post-holiday-I-ate-too-much-and-need-to-get-back-in-shape phase), this is a great recipe. The only fat is from the oil you need to fry the onions, garlic and spices. It’s rich and seemingly creamy, but this comes form the lentils, which you cook long enough for them to soften and start to break up. It’s also super-easy to customise this. I’ve made it variously with cauliflower florets, chunks of butternut squash, peppers, potatoes (waxy sort), peas, string beans and cubes of paneer cheese. Another of those “what is in the cupboard” recipes that can be endlessly varied.
This is one of my favourite dishes. Provided you have lentils and the spices in the house, you can make it with virtually anything. Healthy, delicious and satisfying. Perfect for the early days of autumn as the leaves turn and it starts to get nippy…
To make the lentil and chick pea curry (serves 4):
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 knob of ginger, peeled and grated
• 3 celery sticks
• 2 teaspoons cumin powder
• 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
• 1 teaspoon coriander powder
• 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
• 200g lentils
• 500ml vegetable stock
• 1 tin chick peas, drained and rinsed
• 100g marinated tofu chunks
Heat the oil in a pot on a medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it is lightly brown (around 5 minutes). Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add the celery and cook for another two minutes.
Add the spices to the pot and stir well. Cook for another minute, but if you find they are sticking or seem to be burning, then add a little water. Add the lentils, and cook for another minute, stirring all the time to prevent burning/sticking.
Add the stock, stir well, and then add the chick peas (or whatever other vegetables you are using). Cover the pot and cook on a low heat until the lentils are soft. Check from time to time, adding more water if necessary.
Check seasoning and adjust if you want to. Finally, add the marinated tofu chunks, cook for five minutes, and serve with rice or naan bread, plus a little raita and spicy chutney.
To make raita: grate a piece of cucumber, and squeeze of any excess liquid. Mix with yoghurt, a pinch of salt and some shredded mint, and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. As for chutney – I buy mine in M&S.
Worth making? A very easy, quick, dependable dish. As you can play with the recipe quite a lot, it also makes a good choice when you have a lot of spare vegetables and no idea how to use them all up.