Lentils for breakfast- welcome

Here is your invitation to sample beautiful recipes that are good for you, good for the planet and good to eat. They mainly feature plants, because that's what I try to eat the most. I am not a fancy cook, but I believe that food is one of our greatest pleasures and deserves to be celebrated. Real food, whole food, kind food. Welcome to the feast!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Judy's delicious dal

I wanted to try this recipe because it was created by my friend Judy, who is a wonderful wholefood cook and a woman of original views and high principles. And Scottish, like moi, to boot. I found it on her Food Coach website, which is well worth checking out if you're looking for something stylish, seasonal, delicious and high minded.

One of the reasons I liked the sound of Judy's delicious dal was the combination of eggplant and potato. I think eggplants complement lentils beautifully because they cook down to a silky consistency that provides extra texture and sweetness. And because potatoes don't cook down, they provide a chunky, satisfying little nugget to chew on. They make the dish more substantial and filling. And a girl occasionally wants a break from roasted sweet potato. Then there's spinach to add in at the end - hurrah! Lentils and spinach, the mighty Tim's original breakfast prescription (which I must confess to have deviated from a little recently in my excitement over coconut cream).

As you can find the recipe on Judy's site, I won't reproduce it. Here it is.

I started with serious intentions and finished with a less than satisfactory result - as so often happens. The potatoes and eggplant looked so beautiful coated with turmeric, all golden and promising.

The vegetables looked much more golden than this in the Sunday afternoon sun.
I followed the recipe exactly as I was on my best behaviour - the only deviation I allowed myself was the addition of cauliflower because I had one-quarter of one left and I hate waste. As I rightly surmised, it was so soft at the end of the week, it mainly contributed a slight graininess.

What went wrong? Two things. I used the wrong lentils. Caviar and not red. Oh, when will I ever learn. And the lentils were already cooked. But I added the amount of water stipulated in the recipe. So it was incredibly watery as the lentils didn't absorb any liquid. At the end, everything was cooked, but there was still loads of water bubbling away.

So, I tried to salvage things by boiling it off. But that was making the silky eggplant and grainy cauliflower softer and softer . . . Then I remembered a tip from Sarah Wilson about how a couple of spoonfuls of chia soak up liquid and add bulk without taste. So glad I didn't throw out that chia meal even though I can't find a way to welcome it into my daily diet. But it just made the liquid gluggy (glug with extra plant-based ALAs, antioxidants, fibre and protein, nonetheless). In the end I decided to just leave it. There would be less liquid as the week went by.

Gluey and gluggy with firm lentils and overcooked vegetables. Result.

And that's what happened. I had the last serve for lunch on Friday with some fried tempeh. It was delicious by then.

What have I learned from this? Use the right lentils for the dish (I'd put caps lock on if I wasn't so polite). And if the lentils are already cooked, use less liquid (caps) than stipulated in the recipe. Easier to top up than boil off.

I can't be the only high functioning idiot in the kitchen. Tell me your stories. And send me your recipes. Would love to hear from you. Anybody out there?

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