Recipe: Lentils with Peppers

This recipe is my adaptation of a recipe in Cook Simple by Diana Henry.  Diana Henry’s recipe is an adaptation of a recipe in A Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden.  And so the cycle of recipe-adaptation continues.  I can’t tell you where Claudia Roden adapted her version of this recipe from…

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olive oil
2 red capsicums (also known as bell peppers), de-seeded and sliced
1 yellow capsicum (or another red one, or an orange one.  This recipe is fairly forgiving), de-seeded and sliced
4-5 cloves of garlic, or one of those giant single clove garlic things, crushed
1 small yellow (or red, or green) chilli – not an outrageously hot one, but not a big sweet chilli either, de-seeded and sliced very finely.  Don’t rub your eyes like I always do.
1/2 tbsp (20ml) ground cumin
2 tspn (10ml) ground coriander
200g red lentils
300ml (ish) of vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin of tomatoes, chopped if you are lazy like me
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper
coriander leaves, chopped

Now what will you do with it?

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy saucepan, and add the capsicums and the garlic.  Cook on medium heat for a few minutes until they are soft and smell nice, trying not to let the garlic burn.  Stir in the spices, and some black pepper (not salt – I’ve never proved to my satisfaction that salt does *not* prevent legumes from softening, though I’ve heard rumours either way) and cook for another minute or two, until you can smell them, then add everything else except the coriander leaves.  Bring to a boil and simmer over a gentle heat for about 25 minutes.  The lentils should be soft and collapsing, and most of the liquid should have been absorbed.  Taste for seasoning, and stir in the coriander.

Serve with Greek yoghurt or tzatziki.  Or alone.  It’s nice with rice or flatbread or couscous, and also nice as an accompaniment to grilled meats (preferably cooked with mediterranean or middle eastern flavours) – think of it in this context as a nice, low glycemic index substitute for your mashed potato or rice or other carbohydrate.

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