Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Best Lentil Recipe Ever (Stolen from Eritrea)

I know, I know, I keep on telling you I'm going to South Africa and then not going. The last post just didn't seem to be the right note to leave on. Weather permitting, our flight leaves in the evening.

So, while my parents and I stayed in Eritrea there wasn't a lot of meat (and I was vegetarian except for when someone killed a chicken they wouldn't have killed had I not been visiting for lunch-- now there's hospitality). Or actually, there were some animals but no butcheries, and we don't know how to turn an animal into a meal.

But lentils, oh, there were lentils. And remarkably, lentils that tasted wholesome and filling enough to be meaty. Not in a fake-meat-tofu-chicken (of which I'm not a fan) kind of way. But in an unashamedly I'm-an-awesome-lentil kind of way. We've been eating lentils the last few days to tide us over before our trip, so that we could switch off the fridge while we're away, so it seemed fitting to share the recipe here. Please excuse the canned tomatoes. You can use fresh tomatoes, it'll just take a lot of them.

crushed ginger (or 2 tsp powdered ginger if that's all you have)
cayenne pepper or paprika (to taste-- as spicy as you like it)
bulb of garlic, crushed (yes, not a clove, a bulb)
3 onions
2 cups of red lentils
tomato paste, puree, crushed or whole peeled tomato in tomato juice-- you want the equivalent of 3 cans of tomato paste. I usually use one large can of tomato puree, and two large cans of whole peeled tomato. I once heard that they use better tomatoes for the whole peeled than for the others.

1. Soak the red lentils for a couple of hours, or overnight. (if overnight, pour off the water once).
2. Dice the onions and fry them in a little oil (medium or low heat). While they're simmering away, peel and crush the garlic, and start adding it. Add the ginger and red pepper.
3. Add the lentils (without the water) and after a couple of minutes add the tomato.
4. Allow to simmer until lentils are falling apart-- sometimes as long as 2 hours, for a really great sauce. (transfering to a slow cooker before step 4, and leaving on low for 8 hours, would also be fine.) Add water if necessary.

Enjoy! How do you make lentils and beans a part of your meals? Do you have recipes you really like?

1 comment:

Dan Archibald said...

We were just this evening talking about eating more lentils! Thanks for this post; we'll try out the recipe soon!