Lentils have been eaten from pre-historic times and are probably the cheapest source of protein of all foods. They also contain lots of trace elements, iron, fibre, folate, vitamins and lots more good things. We have chosen red lentils for this recipe but any lentils will do just fine.
There are various rules for cooking lentils but only two matter. Firstly don't eat them raw because they will absorb a lot of water from your stomach in their raw state possibly causing damage. The second rule is to read the instructions on the packet for how long to cook them. We always buy lentils which do not need soaking and these are the most commonly sold. To test if they are cooked simple taste a few and if they are softish but still with a little bite then they are cooked. Most take about 20 to 30 minutes to cook but as we say, always read the cooking instructions on the pack.
Lentils by themselves have little taste so the need a bit of spicing up. You can buy a range of spice to do that but they are expensive and curry paste (any flavour you like) does the job just as well. Your average Patak's curry paste contains cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic and other spices. So why bother adding them fresh when their flavours are expertly blended in a curry paste.
Recipe by David Marks.
|300g / 10½oz red lentils (see cook's notes above)|
|1.5l / 2.7 pints vegetable stock (fresh or two stock cubes cubes)|
|250ml / 8fl oz coconut milk|
|1 medium onion|
|1 garlic clove|
|1 to 2 tablespoon medium curry paste|
|1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger|
|5cm / 2in of a leek (optional)|
|2 tablespoons of olive oil|
|Salt and pepper to taste|
Add the olive oil to a large pan on a medium heat and then add the chopped onions. Stir them well and fry for about 12 minutes until the are softened.
Pour in the the red lentils and stir them in well for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat down to medium low and add in the stock, ginger, garlic and curry paste. Stir the the soup well and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the coconut milk to the soup, stir well and cook for another four minutes.
Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. In our experience, some salt will be required to balance out the taste of the curry paste.
Add the soup to warm bowls and top of with some of the sliced leek rings. Serve with crusty bread.