I knew my food obsession would do for me one day. I was lured to a friend’s house with the promise of Chinese takeaway (Steamed Japanese vegetable dumplings! Egg-fried rice! Malaysian curry! Those adorable little foil soy sauce sachets!). I left with a full belly and a dose of the germs she and her two small children have been diligently curating for the past few weeks.
I got away lucky; sore throat, pressure in the ears, slight cough and general sense of “meh”. She wound up at the out-of-hours GP service, with a severe inner ear inflammation (Labyrinthis).
Made it through work today (All Hail Lemsip!), but have cancelled most of my plans for the weekend – between this and the Smogapocalypse* I didn’t fancy a night drinking in London, and my family aren’t too keen on a dose of the plague either so I’m confined to barracks for a couple of days. So naturally I gravitated to the nearest recipe offering the comfort of heat, spices, fried onion and cooked lentils….
*combination of UK and European air pollution, and dust carried over from the Sahara by strong gales, causing a serious dive in air quality levels in the south of the UK.
It’s a little strange to walk out of my apartment block in a town on the South Downs, 40 miles from the nearest beach, and catch the evocative scent of blown desert sand.
1 cinnamon stick
Can of coconut milk, or sachet of coconut cream
Half large white onion, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
Generous amounts of ginger, garam masala, cumin, coriander
Two ripe tomatoes, chopped
Put the lentils, cinnamon stick and turmeric in pan of cold water, boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Add the coconut milk/cream and a dash of salt. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until a thick soup. Decant off extra liquid if necessary.
Meanwhile gently fry the onion for 10 minutes in the vegetable oil, then add the garlic and ginger and fry for a few more minutes.
Lower the heat and add the garam masala, cumin, coriander and mustard seeds. Put the lid on the wok and wait until the seeds have stopped crackling.
Remove the lid, add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, occasionally mashing gently.
Add the tomato mix to the lentils, stir well, season with additional salt if needed.
Serve with rice or bread. Although to be fair this is sumptuous enough to enjoy as a bowlful on its own.