21 June 2013

IHCC - Ottolenghi's Spiced Red Lentils and the Colors of Summer

Welcome to the first day of summer! Summer colors like warm terra cotta tiles and bright green grass and cool puffy clouds abound in this spicy dish that I found in Ottolenghi's Guardian column archives. He says he likes to have it in any season when he needs a warm comfy supper ... which is exactly how I approached it yesterday! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ... way back machine ...~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 7 AM - June 20th - chilly and cloudy start to the day

It seems strange that on the  morning before summer solstice it is 45 degrees Farenheit ! What gives with this weather we're having this Spring !?  I've just come in from watering the hanging flower baskets in the greenhouse out back and my ankles and fingertips are chilled! Brr! What gives here ? 

Guess it calls for a warm stick to your ribs dinner this evening, and since I have neglected to post an Ottolenghi recipe in the week's since June started, it's time to pull his spiced lentil recipe ... it tastes like winter, but has the warm colors of summer - a nice little nod to Mother Nature and the Sun gods ... of course, I have to use regular mustard seeds and ditch the curry leaves, as they (and black mustard seed) are unavailable in my little rural backwater, but I think this dish will be just perfect for what we want for dinner this evening! To boot, the kitchen can stand a good warming up, so I'll be baking some flatbreads to have with these lentils and making a couple stuffed Portabella mushrooms with the kale that's coming from the back yard garden ... my afternoon's work is cut out for me. God, I love hanging out in the kitchen, cooking up a storm! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ... way forward machine ... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So, dinner was a success! The lentils are full of Indian spices and the flatbreads worked extremely well at scooping up juices. The yogurt and cucumbers were really tasty over top the lentils ... Yotam did not steer us wrong on this recipe!

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Spiced Red Lentils
Serves two to four.
200g split red lentils
1 bunch fresh coriander
1 small onion, peeled 
40g ginger, peeled 
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 mild green chilli
1½ tsp black mustard seeds
4 tbsp sunflower oil
1½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp paprika
10 curry leaves
300g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped 
2 tsp caster sugar
½ tsp fenugreek (optional)
1 pinch asafoetida (optional)
150g Greek yogurt
75g finely diced cucumber
1½ tbsp olive oil
70g unsalted butter
1½ tbsp lime juice

Making the Dish:

1.      Wash the lentils in plenty of water, drain and soak in 350 ml of fresh water for 30 minutes.
2.       Cut the coriander bunch somewhere around its center to get a leafy top half and a stem/root bottom half. Roughly chop the leaves. Put the stem half in the bowl of a food processor, add the onion, ginger, garlic and chili - all roughly broken - and pulse a few times to chop up without turning into a paste.
3.      Put the mustard seeds in a heavy-based pot and place over medium heat. When they begin to pop, add the onion mix and sunflower oil, stir and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
4.      Add the spices and curry leaves, and continue cooking and stirring for five minutes longer.
5.      Now add the lentils and their soaking water, the tomatoes, sugar, fenugreek, asafoetida and a pinch of salt.
6.      Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked.
7.      Before serving, whisk together the yogurt, cucumber, oil and some salt.
8.      Stir into the lentils the butter, lime juice and chopped coriander leaves, taste and season generously with salt.
9.      Divide into bowls, spoon yogurt on top and garnish with coriander. Serve the chilled cucumbers and yogurt atop the lentils or on the side as a palate refresher.

P.S. - I would normally be posting a different chef's recipe for this week's I Heart Cooking Club's Pot Luck post, but feel so bad about 'skipping town' last week and missing out on dessert week, that I'm sticking with the 'colors of summer' recipe that I'd had my eye on ... fate has worked to make it entirely appropriate. Now, if only summertime would truly come knocking on my back door ...

10 AM - June 21st - 73 degrees and climbing with bright warm sunshine ... Thank you, Mother Nature! How'bout an early lunch?


  1. A beautiful post about the colors of summer! I think your flatbreads look absolutely crave worthy and I am such fan of lentils. There is something so comforting about lentils. Delicious!

  2. I absolutely love the layout of your site. Bigger photos on the side, and I like the format of your links. Gorgeous!

    Your dish looks beautiful. Lentils are something I like, but for some reason, never think about making them. I don't know why.

  3. Yum! I rolled with Ottolenghi and lentils this week too, and even though I went with a lentil salad it was perfect for the cooler days we are experiencing here. Yours definitely speaks of summer though, and I hope you get some of that full-on summer warmth soon.

  4. I love lentils and can imagine how delicious this dish was with its Indian flavours. Your flatbreads are gorgeous and look to be the perfect accompaniment to the lentils.

  5. Your lovely post really celebrates summer! With a delicious meal, makes an extra satisfying perfect summer day indeed!

  6. This looks like the perfect dinner to me--any time of year. ;-) I love spicy lentils and those flat breads are making me drool. ;-) Great potluck pick!


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