Monday, June 24, 2013

IHCC: Got a pulse?

Chickpeas, lentils, beans! Some of our favorite foods around here. Beyond the occasional black-eyed pea, they're not something I grew up eating, but something that's been added to my food vocabulary over time.

A bit of internet searching turned up Ottolenghi's Spiced Lentils with Cucumber Yogurt, which seemed like just the thing on the cold and damp summer days we continue to have.

This recipe starts with soaking red lentils, not something I recall doing before, but why not? It gives you just enough time to get everything else ready for cooking.

The bottom half of a bunch of coriander (leaves and stems) gets coarsely chopped in the food processor with a small onion, some ginger, garlic, and a chili. Black mustard seeds are popped in a dry skillet, then oil added and the coriander-onion mixture is fried for ten minutes on low heat. Then some ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, paprika, and curry leaves are added and cooked another five minutes.

Finally the lentils and their soaking water are added, along with tomatoes, a bit of sugar (I used half what was asked), fenugreek (it's not clear if this should be leaves or seeds; I used seeds and that seemed to be the right choice), asafoetida, and a pinch of salt. This mixture is simmered, covered, for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked.

Meanwhile you can stir together some yogurt with finely diced cucumber (coarsely shredded might be nice), some olive oil, and some salt.

When the lentils are done, stir in the chopped leaves from the top half of the bunch of coriander, some lime juice, and some butter.

To my eye, this recipe uses way too much oil. Four tablespoons of sunflower oil are used to fry the coriander-onion mixture. One and a half tablespoons of olive oil are used for the yogurt topping. Seventy grams, more than four and a half tablespoons, of butter are stirred into the cooked lentils! Not in my kitchen, sorry. I used no more than half of the first two oils and only a dab of butter; that could have been eliminated altogether, I think.

The lentils can be served as a stewy soup, over rice, or with bread. I actually cooked some rice, but we decided that eating the lentils plain, topped with the yogurt mixture would be fine. And it was. And very tasty indeed. DH was a happy camper. The whole recipe served two of us generously. With rice, it might stretch to four.

VIsit this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs to see what yummy things other IHCCers have cooked up this week.


  1. Lentils and beans are probably my favorite thing to eat. So many possibilities, so good for you, and so very filling and healthy. I agree with you on the oil and butter. I find a lot of recipes don't need all the oil/butter called for.

    Either way, this looks absolutely flavorful, comforting, and ultimately satisfying. I haven't noticed this recipe before. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. That's quite a lot of spices used, this dish must be very fragrant and tasty! I totally agree with you on the oil, usually I would use less than the recipe calls for, when it comes to oil and sugar!

  3. These spicy lentils sound delicious - great combination of flavours. I could very happily eat this just with the yoghurt for a meal - no rice needed.

    Your remarks about the oil/butter are interesting. I find that with just about all recipes, no matter who they are from, I generally ignore the quantity of oil/butter given and just eyeball what seems appropriate to me ... which probably usually is less than what is specified.

  4. This looks like just the kind of dish I like. I am with you--I definitely cut the oil and butter in almost everything I make. ;-)