I stink of vegetable oil, and there’s a slightly suspicious (and now germolene-smeared) red mark on one arm that might possibly resemble a small hot-oil splash burn. But such is the price of our annual New Year’s Day Chinese Food Bloody-Great Cook-Off. Two woks, one massive saucepan, 73 bowls and dishes, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sherry, hoi sin and sesame oil, leeks, carrots, spring onions, baby corncobs and mange tout, pork, beef and chicken pieces (plus the tofu/Quorn equivalents for myself).
And we ate the lot.
Dad’s off to try and balance that much oil against his diabetes plan, my sister is off to balance it against her diet plan, and I’m contemplating raiding the kebab van outside Tangleton train station for a bag of chips.
In the meantime may I pass on this fabulous, soul-warming recipe, which finally came together for me when I stopped trying to use yellow split lentils, and instead made it with a red lentil curry, as God and Nature intended……?
Red Lentil Curry & Sweet Potato Casserole
- 2 sweet potatoes, sliced widthways into coin-thick pieces
- A stick of white bread, with decent crust (think French stick, or ciabatta), chopped widthways
- Parsley, one clove garlic chopped, and olive oil (for the dressing for the bread)
For the curry filling
- Vegetable oil
- Half an onion, sliced finely
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced finely
- Ginger, cumin, garam masala and coriander
- Tin chopped tomatoes
- Tin coconut milk (or coconut cream loosed with hot water)
- Dried red lentils
- Chopped spinach (optional)
Fruitlessly search the aisles of the new EnormoSpaceshipWaitrose for any kind of baguette or ciabatta that isn’t layered in handcrafted artisanal seeds. Give up and decamp to Sainsbury’s instead for a plain bloody French stick.
Add the sweet potato slices to a pan of salted, boiling water. Cook until soft when pierced with a knife, then drain.
Fry the onion at medium heat in the oil for five minutes, then add the garlic and spices. Cook for a few minutes more.
Add the tomatoes, stirring occasionally for around 5-10 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and some boiling water, add the lentils.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are soft (25-35 minutes). You can add a lid to the saucepan with a small gap at the side to let steam escape, if you wish.
Salt to taste, and add the spinach (if being used), simmer for a few minutes more. Take off the heat.
Mix the olive oil, parsley and garlic.
In a casserole dish, add a layer of sweet potato, then lentil curry. Repeat.
Top with slices of bread, then wipe the bread with the olive oil, parsley and garlic topping.
Place a lid (or layer of foil) over the dish, then place in the oven at medium high. Cook for 20-25 minutes. (In this case I made the curry the day before, and allowed to cool in the fridge overnight before adding to the recipe – if making fresh and adding to the casserole hot, you may wish to shorten cooking times for the casserole itself).
Take off the foil and bake for 10 minutes more. Serve hot.