Spiced lentils with cucumber yogurt, take 2

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It was one of the first posts of this blog,  long long time ago. Since then, an awful lot has happened: people have walked in and out of my life, some doors have shut and others have opened and Summer might have taken its time to arrive, but it alway did…  Yet, for whatever reason, I keep coming back to it, specially in the first days of Winter. Confort food doesn’t get much better than this… Seriously, it is quite easy to do. It requires minimum attention and preparation – just the odd bit of mixing suff here and there. Most of the ingredients are spices and the most sophisticated ones are actually optional.

Spiced lentils with cucumber yogurt (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

For the lentils

  • 200g split red lentils
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 40g ginger, peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 mild green chilli
  • half teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • half teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • half teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • half teaspoon ground turmeric
  • half teaspoon paprika
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 300g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • half teaspoon fenugreek (optional)
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (optional)
  • Salt

For the cucumber yogurt

  • 150g Greek yogurt (I used regular lactose free yogurt)
  • 75g finely diced cucumber
  • half tablespoon of olive oil
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • lime juice

 Method

Wash the lentils in plenty of water, drain and soak in 350ml of fresh water for 30 minutes. Cut the coriander bunch somewhere around its centre 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 chilli – all roughly broken – and pulse a few times to chop up without turning into a paste.

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. Add the spices and curry leaves, and continue cooking and stirring for five minutes longer. Now add the lentils and their soaking water, the tomatoes, sugar, fenugreek, asafoetida and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked.

Before serving, whisk together the yogurt, cucumber, oil and some salt. Stir into the lentils the butter, lime juice and chopped coriander leaves, taste and season generously with salt. Divide into bowls, spoon yogurt on top and garnish with coriander.

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Tzatziki

It was a very hot day, and all we feel like eating was something cool and fresh. A little couscous salad, roasted aubergines and of course that creamy cucumbery thing the Greeks call Tzatziki. It tastes much better by a big blue sea, but nevertheless it is always welcome in a bright Summer day. The recipe was adapted from Reference Answers

Tzatziki 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 unpeeled cucumber, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method

In a bowl, add the cucumber, garlic, olive oil, and salt to the yogurt.

Blend well with a fork and refrigerate.

Serve with toasted pieces of pita bread or fresh vegetables, such as carrots, celery, or peppers.


Spiced lentils with cucumber yogurt

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Another typical Yotam Ottolenghi dish: a kilometric list of ingredients for an amazing plate of lentils, that will warm you even on the coldest days of winter. The recipe was found on Yotam’s New Vegetarian column at the Guardian, and of course on Plenty, his latest cookbook.

Spiced lentils with cucumber yogurt

Ingredients 

  • 200g split red lentils
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 40g ginger, peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 mild green chilli
  • half teaspoon of  black mustard seeds
  • 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • half teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • half teaspoon ground turmeric
  • half teaspoon paprika
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 300g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • half teaspoon fenugreek (optional)
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (optional)
  • Salt
  • 150g Greek yogurt (I used regular lactose free yogurt)
  • 75g finely diced cucumber
  • half tablespoon of olive oil
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • lime juice

Methods

Wash the lentils in plenty of water, drain and soak in 350ml of fresh water for 30 minutes. Cut the coriander bunch somewhere around its centre 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 chilli – all roughly broken – and pulse a few times to chop up without turning into a paste.

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. Add the spices and curry leaves, and continue cooking and stirring for five minutes longer. Now add the lentils and their soaking water, the tomatoes, sugar, fenugreek, asafoetida and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked.

Before serving, whisk together the yogurt, cucumber, oil and some salt. Stir into the lentils the butter, lime juice and chopped coriander leaves, taste and season generously with salt. Divide into bowls, spoon yogurt on top and garnish with coriander.


Smoked trout salad and buttered potatoes

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The smoked trout with cucumber and dill salad’s recipe was found on Channel 4. It was just one these unusual circumstances where the ingredients you have are actually the same the ones the recipe asks for.

Smoked trout salad and buttered potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber
  •  small bunch of fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon  of caster sugar – regular sugar will do.
  • 1 tablespoon of  rice vinegar – I used Jerez vinegar instead
  • 4 hot smoked trout fillets
  • Boiled new potatoes and butter

Method

Halve and deseed the cucumber and thinly slice into half moons. In a large bowl, toss the cucumber slices with fresh dill, caster sugar and rice wine vinegar.

Serve the salad with the trout fillets, broken into pieces, some hot buttered new potatoes with salt and pepper.