“A single dream can be more powerful than a thousand realities”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien ~
I hope you’ve met 2014 with joy and excitement.
I hope you’ve met it with dreams of good things to come, but most of all I hope New Year has opened a blank canvas begging to be painted with visions adventures and dreams coming true.
I’ve started mine with setting goals. Not resolutions or silly promises to be forgotten in a week or so, but a to do list, a guideline for the things I want this year to bring. Last year this list was humble and vague and even though 2013 was a year of phenomenal change and steps into new directions, I’ve learned to be precise in what I ask for and aim.
This year the list is long, daring and frankly rather frightening, but the way I see things, it’s better to aim for more rather than less. Mine among other things it involves the making of three books… Or at least that’s the plan and we’ll see where 2014 will lead.
Back in December, I thought the first recipe of the year will be a fresh salad, as they are sort of appropriate after the holiday season; unless the festive tables have been lean and light, but they rarely are. My dear grandmother always carefully overlooks the table, making sure that everyone getting up would be stuffed more than a Christmas goose, and so we all are. But instead, New Year has started with cravings for spices and a taste of the orient. Something to warm up while colds are sweeping everywhere and perhaps to cure the everlasting mine.
The basic recipe comes from James Martin, but I’ve twisted a couple of ingredients here and there to save a trip to the store, the result was too good not to share. It’s spicy, filling with layers of flavor and great for a light lunch or dinner anytime.
- 1 cup/ 200g red lentils
- 6 cups cold water
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1-2 dried red chillies
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 can tinned tomatoes
- 1teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 fresh red chilli, sliced
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- 1 cup cashew nuts, toasted
- freshly ground pepper
- Place the lentils in a large pot with water, turmeric, salt and bring to simmer.
- In the meanwhile heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat, break the dried chillies into pieces and add to the pan with the coriander, cumin and fenugreek seeds and black peppercorns.
- Toast for 20 seconds, shaking constantly.
- Remove and place in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder, then grind to a powder.
- Return the pan to the heat, then add two tablespoons of the vegetable oil, the onion and garlic, and cook gently for 7-10 minutes, until softened.
- Add the spice mixture, onions and tinned tomatoes to the lentils and bring to a simmer.
- Skim off and discard any scum, then cook for one hour over a very low heat, stirring from time to time.
- Before serving, heat a frying pan until very hot and add the remaining vegetable oil.
- When the oil is smoking, add the mustard seeds, fresh chilli then quickly remove from the heat.
- Remove any last residue of scum from the soup, then transfer it to a blender in batches and process until smooth.
- Return it to the pan to heat through and add the tempered spices and cilantro. Taste and add more salt or pepper as needed.
- Divide between serving bowls top with a little coconut milk, toasted cashews, more fresh cilantro and serve immediately.