I would not have put Ethiopian or Eritrean food at the top of my list to try, until a friend took me to an Eritrean restaurant. It was a revelation. Not only is the food very veg*n friendly, with a wide variety of pulse and vegetable dishes available, it tastes wonderful. One of my favourites was a lentil salad that had a kick of heat from mustard or horseradish. I had no idea how to reproduce it, until I came across this recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook.
The hidden ingredient was brown mustard seeds and they add a lovely pungency to the dish. I’ve used puy lentils here, but any whole green lentils would do, including a tin of green lentils, which would make this a really quick addition to a meal of different salads.
NB the water must be boiling for this recipe. Anything less and the dish will be bitter.
190g puy or other green lentils
1/2 green pepper
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/4 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp boiling water
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp olive oil
Put the lentils with 500ml of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
When cooked, drain and add to a bowl.
Chop the pepper into small dice and add to the lentils.
Put the mustard seeds and peppercorns in a pestle and mortar and grind until you have a coarse powder.
Add the chilli powered and the boiling water and stir.
Leave to stand for a couple of minutes then add the lemon juice and olive oil and stir thoroughly.
Add the mustard dressing to the lentil and peppers and mix through.
Season with salt.
Serves 4 with other salads
This is based on the recipe of Chilli Panner from
Meera Sodha’s Made in India: Cooked in Britain book. The recipe is delicious but it had one great failing as far as I’m concerned – there wasn’t enough of it. Meera’s dish is a snack, I wanted something to use as part of a main course, so I have added more tomatoes to carry the wonderful flavour on for a little longer.
You need to try this recipe. It has bags of flavour and cooks in less than 20 minutes (apart from pressing the tofu). And, considering the amount of garlic in it, it might be my new favourite way of dealing with a snuffly cold!
400g tofu, drained & pressed, cut into 2cm cubes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1.5 tsp cumin powder
1 green chilli, finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Lemon wedges, to serve
Heat a little oil in a large saucepan and add the tofu. Fry the tofu until lightly browned on all sides. You may need to do this in a couple of batches.
Add all the tofu back into the pan and stir in the garlic, cumin and chilli.
Saute on a low heat for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato puree and chopped tomatoes.
Simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced a little.
Season with salt & pepper.
Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over.
Come the New Year we all want something healthy to eat, right? But it’s cold and wet so something comforting would be in order as well. Well in these times, my thoughts turn to soup. This is my latest contribution to the easy, tasty, lentil soups pile. The comfort comes from the soft lentils, the taste comes from the star anise which adds a background fragrance and the health comes from the carrots, which are absurdly good for you. The chilli oil is optional, but will clear your sinuses if you’re feeling snuffly on top of the other seasonal ills.
200g split red lentils
1 star anise
1l vegetable stock
2 large carrots, grated
chilli oil, optional
Put the lentils, star anise and vegetable stock in a saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the carrots, bring back up to the heat and simmer (covered) for another 10 minutes. Remove the star anise and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzling of chilli oil.