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!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

North Indian Lentils

I saw Stephanie Alexander (my newly discovered lentil goddess) recently at a talk given as part of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. She was talking with a languid chef and writer from New York, Gabrielle Hamilton, on the subject 'Why are we poisoning our children'. Given the emotive tone of the title, it was a curiously tepid affair and neither of them seemed fully engaged. Lots of talk of what they ate growing up, yawn. There were some smart questions from members of the audience later, showing that it was a group who was aware of all the issues. Shame the same level of commitment wasn't apparent on the stage.

Stephanie's North Indian lentils
Still, there is so much to admire about Stephanie. If 'admire' is strong enough a word to capture my respect for her immense talent and vast knowledge. Love this recipe for North Indian lentils.

350 g red lentils (I used 1 cup)
500 ml water (I didn't use as much as this)
2 cloves garlic
2 slices fresh ginger
fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I don't have any, so just added chilli as usual)
lemon juice
oil (I used butter)
cumin seeds

Put lentils and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Skim (horrible job, never seem to manage the technique and end up stirring foam back into the boiling water), then add garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric and chilli. Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar, then lower heat and simmer for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally, checking each time if lentils have collapsed in a near-puree. Add salt and lemon juice. The finished dal will be like a thick soup.

Thick, soupy, fragrant dal.

In a small pan, heat oil (butter) and cook cumin seeds gently until darkened. Pour over dal.
Here is my finished result, with steamed spinach added.

Stephanie then fries onion until dark brown and scatters over the dish before serving, but I didn't bother with this. I'm terrible at frying onions until dark brown, but terribly good at frying them until they are black.

I've concluded after all these various lentil breakfasts that this type of recipe makes my preferred one. It's easy to prepare and I enjoy the taste first thing in the morning. No grain, no sugar, lots of fibre and protein . . . it's a great start to the day.

But have I lost any weight?! I didn't weigh myself this week as planned as I only got to the gym once. And when I was there, I was in an irritable temper and actually abandoned my workout and left. And I was sure I wouldn't be satisfied with the result if I did weight myself and decided that would only make my mood worse.

Still, onwards and upwards, chaps. Keep at it.

How about you? Anyone else walked out of Fitness First out of sheer irritation? I've walked in, changed and then left because I couldn't stand being there. Am I the only one?!

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