Puy Lentil Curry

Puy lentil curry lr

Serves 4 as part of an Indian meal

If you are pushed for time and you want to cook a delicious curry, look no further. What’s more, this is a vegan and vegetarian recipe that even carnivores will love.

For the spice mix…
1 ½ tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground ginger, garam masala, fenugreek and turmeric
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
12 cardamom pods, crushed in a pestle and mortar

Mix all of the ingredients together.

For the finished dish…
250g Puy lentils, rinsed under running water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 portion of spice mix, as above
250ml vegan stock
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Optional – a pinch of cayenne and/or a pinch of sugar

Place the lentils in a large pan of unsalted water. Cover and simmer until just cooked, approx. 35 to 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a wide based pan and sauté the onions until softened and well coloured, approx. 15 to 20 minutes. Add the garlic and chillies and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the spice mix and stir-fry for a further minute, adding a splash of stock if it starts to catch. Add the stock, tomatoes and red wine vinegar and simmer, covered for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt, cayenne and/or a pinch of sugar if needs be.

Stir the cooked lentils into the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning again; lentils gobble up salt!

Spiced Chickpeas

Spiced Chickpeas lr

Serves 4

This is a delicious and wholesome vegan dish. It’s quick to prepare too, which is always a bonus.

Serve the chickpeas with vegetables, leaves or roasted potatoes, whatever takes your fancy.

For the spice mix…
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne

Mix all of the ingredients together.

For the finished dish…
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced
1 portion of spice mix, as above
125 ml water
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Pinch of sugar (optional)
Splash of vinegar (optional)
2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed under cold running water
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

Sauté the onions in the oil until softened and slightly coloured, approx. 15 minutes. Add the spice mix and stir-fry for 1 minute, adding a splash of water if the mixture starts to catch. Add the water and tomatoes, bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You may need to add a pinch of sugar or a splash of vinegar, depending on the sharpness of the tomatoes.

Add the chickpeas and mint and gently simmer, covered, for a further 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning again if needs be.

Lamb and Vegetable Soup in a Slow Cooker

Lamb shanks lr

Serves 4 as a main course

This is a hearty and filling main course soup, and thanks to the spicing, works well in summer or winter. Lamb shanks are quite bulky so this is where my large 6.5 litre slow cooker comes into its own. If you have a smaller slow cooker you will need to reduce the portions.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 lamb shanks
3 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
Spice mix made with 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground black pepper and a pinch of salt
1 litre beef stock (I make it with 2 Oxo cubes)
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
5 celery sticks, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
2 large sweet peppers, deseeded and cut into bite sized pieces
2 large red chillies, deseeded and finely diced
2 bulbs of fennel, trimmed and finely sliced

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown the lamb shanks all over, removing them to the bowl of your slow cooker once done. You will need to brown the shanks in two batches to avoid over-crowding the pan.

Add the onions to the pan and sauté until softened, approx. 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the spice mix and stir-fry for another minute, adding a splash of stock if it starts to catch.

Pour in the stock and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add all of the vegetables and return to a simmer. Pour the mixture over the lamb shanks in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours.

When the time is up remove the lamb shanks and strip the meat from the bones, shredding it with two forks and removing any fat or gristle. Return the meat to the slow cooker. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Cook for another hour on low then, before serving, skim any excess oil that has risen to the surface.

Long Grain White Rice

Long grain white rice

Serves 4

A lot of people seem to have problems cooking rice. They even resort to buying over-priced pouches of pre-cooked rice. You don’t need to do that! It’s actually dead easy to get perfect results every time.

I allow 2 ½ tablespoons of uncooked rice per person, so this recipe serves 4.

Salt
10 tablespoons of long grain white rice

Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the rice and return to a simmer. Briefly stir gently to make sure the grains aren’t sticking to the base of the pan.

Simmer for 19 minutes. During this time white foam will rise to the surface. This is starch and you should skim it off a couple of times. At the same time give the rice a quick, gentle stir.

After the 19 minutes is up, strain the rice into a strainer and wash it under cold running water until cold. This will stop the cooking process. Place the strainer over a bowl and leave it to drain at room temperature for 1 hour. After that, tip the rice into a bowl, cover in cling film and sore in the fridge until needed.

To reheat, peel back the cling film and fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains. Leave the cling film loosely in place and heat in a microwave on full power for 4 to 5 minutes. The exact time will depend on the power of your microwave. And voila. As promised you will have perfectly cooked rice.