This blog elaborates on the versatility of the delicious one pot wonder lentil and recipe featured in this video. If you like Indian food, you’ll really enjoy this lightly spiced recipe that is reminiscent of a dhal. Plenty of flavour, easy to batch cook and full of wholesome ingredients.
Ingredients: (serves 8)
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 2 tsp. coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon of black peppercorns
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 350g green lentils
- 200g wholegrain rice
- 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
- 1 litre low salt vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- Salt and pepper
Hints and tips on toasting and grinding whole spices for cooking:
Start with the biggest and woodiest whole spices first such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise or peppercorns. Heat in a clean dry pan over a medium heat until the spices become fragrant. Then set aside and allow to cool. Do the same thing again with smaller whole spices such as coriander and cumin seeds, cardamom seeds or fenugreek.
Use a pestle and mortar to grind and bash the spices until you get them to as fine a powder as you would like. You can hold a tea towel over it to prevent the spices flying everywhere. For larger quantities, I recommend a small, cheap coffee grinder that you keep just for grinding your spices. Stored in an airtight glass bottle, your spices should stay fresh and pungent for 6 months.
Buying and Storing Lentils and Pulses:
Unless you are cooking a lot, 500g to 1kg of lentils should be plenty to keep in your pantry. Look out for zero-waste shops and health shops that offer this service. Asian markets also stock a wide variety of good quality pulses at reasonable prices. Lovely glass jars look great on social media, but in reality, the most sustainable storage container is the one you have already. As long as it is airtight it will do the job. Practice good stock control by using older food first and not topping up the jar with fresher ingredients.
My Favourite Varieties of Lentils:
Even though there are several varieties, I tend to cook Puy, red and brown lentils the most. They all have different flavours and textures and are therefore more suited to different types of recipes. Lentils feature in many classic French, Greek, Italian, Indian and Middle Eastern recipes, so you’ll find plenty of inspiration.
Puy lentils: these are my favourite lentils to cook. They retain a good firm texture so are the best variety for salads. They are also robust enough to mop up roasting juices from chicken, duck and lamb and you’ll see many classic recipes such as these.
Red lentils: these cook to a very soft texture, almost a mash. They are lovely added to soups where they add substance and increase satiety. Also good as the base for lentil loaves, lentil burgers and lentil cottage pie.
Brown lentils: these are most often used as a substitute for beef or lamb mince or added in as a percentage of the mixture for a healthier version. Think Bolognese sauce, meatballs, burgers and cottage pies. They have a really good texture and take on flavours very well.
Toppings and Add Ins:
To keep things interesting, you can change up the toppings you garnish your dish with and the side dishes you serve.
Creamy: a swirl of Greek yoghurt is a healthy option that will give you a creamy taste and feel and is used in authentic Indian cuisine.
Crispy: simply fry thinly sliced onion on a high heat in sunflower oil until dark brown and crispy, drain well on kitchen paper.
Crunchy: lightly toasted flaked almonds are delicious. Simply toast in a clean dry pan without any oil over a medium heat. They are quite delicate so be careful not to burn them.
Fresh: plenty of fresh coriander will freshen this dish up and make it taste more authentic.
Greens: my favourite green add in is spinach, which is very popular in Indian cuisine. Simply add fresh or frozen spinach when reheating the dish.
Bright: sour flavours are very important to balance and enhance other flavours in spicy dishes. A good squeeze of lemon or lime will brighten up the whole dish.
To keep things interesting and include more fruits and vegetables, give these side dishes a try.
Kachumber salad: mix together 1 diced cucumber, 200g halved cherry tomatoes, ½ sliced red onion, 1 thinly diced carrot, 4 sliced radishes, 1 finely diced small chilli, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, salt and pepper.
Mango salad: mix together 1 diced mango, 1 diced cucumber, 200g halved cherry tomatoes, ½ a finely sliced red onion, 1 small finely chopped chilli, 1/2tsp ground cumin, juice of a lime, 2tbsp fresh coriander, salt and pepper.
Banana raita: mix together 500ml of plain yoghurt, 2 sliced bananas, 2tbsp sultanas, 2tbsp toasted flaked almonds, 1tbsp toasted desiccated coconut, 1tsp ground cumin and a pinch of salt.
Sautéed vegetables: sauté a sliced red onion, 2 cloves of sliced garlic, a finely sliced red chilli and a tsp of mustard seeds until fragrant. Add 4 cups of prepared and trimmed vegetables: okra, broccoli, green beans, swiss chard, aubergines and courgettes.
Roasted cauliflower: break a cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Coat with olive oil, ground cumin, salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking tray and roast at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until lightly charred.
Spiced peas: sauté 1 onion in oil until lightly browned, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds until the seeds pop. Add 250g frozen peas, 1tbsp water, a pinch of chilli powder, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until hot through, about 5 minutes.
In this series, chef and author Rozanne Stevens prepares a series of recipes from an evidenced based cookbook called ‘Healthy Eating for Cancer Survivors’ developed by Dr. Aoife Ryan and Dr Éadaoin Ní Bhuachalla, of University College Cork (UCC), and Breakthrough Cancer Research. The Cookbook is available on https://www.breakthroughcancerresearch.ie/product/the-anti-cancer-cookbook/ More videos and recipes are available on
Laya Healthcare has put together a cancer care guide outlining screening, diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Download your guide https://www.layahealthcare.ie/media/site/pdfs/Cancer-Care-Laya-Healthcare.pdf