Puy lentils with tomatoes, tahini & cumin

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Happy New Year and lots of luck with this flavourful and surprisingly snazzy lentil dish! Hopefully you had an amazing Christmas and a great start to this new & shiny year full of miracles and joy.

I don’t know about you but the holidays seem to have just rushed past in one big swoosh: plenty of balmy days spent celebrating, feasting & relaxing and we enjoyed every minute of them. Cooking wise, we’ve had a few ups (these lentils, Christmas goose with all the trimmings, bean chilli) and more than a few downs lately (burnt mince meat and no mince pies, the ‘Spanish’ chicken, yesterday’s supper to name the worst) since a stray swarm of tsetse flies must have settled nearby (odd, the forest does not look in the least like Kalahari) and I could hardly keep my eyes open past 9 o’ clock. Unfortunately, that’s a point where cooking ambition switches into sheer survival mode and explains a certain lack of Internet presence & participation. But, discounting yesterday’s meagre plate, I am getting back to normal and the hunger games might be over.

Whatever this year brings to you, it is always good to have a nice lentil supper up one’s sleeve and this Middle Eastern answer to dal is a real keeper as far as we are concerned. Ottolenghi – who else should wonderful dish be from? – mashes them for a more porridge-y consistency though I prefer the lentils intact in this dish where vibrant lemon & tomatoes deliver upbeat notes and tahini adds a touch of creaminess. Finish with zingy onion slices, fresh coriander and a dusting of warm paprika – a feast for all the senses that should bring lots of luck and keep even the sleepiest awake for dinner (me). Even on its own it is a thoroughly satisfying meal (add hard-boiled eggs for additional sustenance) but the lentils are also a spectacular side to pan fried fish we found one evening.

 

 

Puy lentils with tomatoes, tahini & cumin


Puy lentils with tomatoes, tahini & cumin

Serves 4. Adapted with small changes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More

 

200g Puy lentils
30g butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1½ teaspoons cumin
1½ tins chopped tomatoes (or 4 medium tomatoes, blanched, skinned and diced)
½ bunch of coriander, chopped (30g), save some 1-2 tbsp. for finishing
60g tahini paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt & pepper
water
½ red onion, sliced into thin half moons
olive oil
½ teaspoon paprika

optional: 2 hard-boiled eggs, halved
Cook lentils for about 20-25 minutes until done, drain and set aside until needed.

Heat butter & oil in a large sauté pan over a medium-high flame and cook garlic and cumin for a scant minute before adding tomatoes, nearly all of the chopped coriander (save some to sprinkle over the finished dish later) and the lentils. Stir and cook for a few minutes, add tahini, lemon juice, salt & pepper and 70ml water. Reduce the heat and continue to cook & stir for 5 minutes until the lentil dish has thickened and is hot. At this point Ottolenghi smashes the lentils a few times with a potato masher in order to achieve the consistency of a chunky porridge / hummus but I liked my lentils unmashed.

Garnish with thinly sliced onion, the reserved coriander, a drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of paprika. For a more substantial main course add halved hard-boiled eggs.

 

 

 

Deutsches Rezept:

Puy lentils with tomatoes, tahini and cumin


Puy Linsen mit Tomaten, Tahini & Kreuzkümmel

4 Portionen, adaptiert und abgewandelt von Yotam Ottolenghi’s Linsengericht aus Plenty More. Sehr lecker als Hauptgericht (dazu die hartgekochten Eier) oder als Beilage zu gebratenem Fisch.

 

200g Puy Linsen
30g Butter
2 EL Olivenöl
3 Knoblauchzehen, gepresst
1½ TL Kreuzkümmel
1½ Dosen gehackte Tomaten (oder 4 mittelgroße Tomaten, blanchiert, gehäutet und gewürfelt)
½ Bund Koriander, gehackt (30g), 1-2 EL zur Dekoration zurückbehalten
60g Tahini (Sesampaste)
2 EL Zitronensaft
Salz & Pfeffer
Wasser
½ rote Zwiebel, in dünne Halbmonde geschnitten
Olivenöl
½ TL Paprika

optional: 2 hart gekochte Eier, halbiert
Linsen für ca. 20-25 Minuten gar kochen, abgießen und zur Seite stellen.

Butter und Olivenöl in einer großen Sauteuse bei mittlerer Hitze schmelzen und Knoblauch sowie Kreuzkümmel für eine knappe Minute erhitzen. Tomaten, Koriander und die gekochten Linsen hinzufügen, umrühren und für einige Minute kochen, dann Tahini, Zitronensaft, Salz & Pfeffer sowie 70ml Wasser unterrühren. Die Hitze leicht reduzieren und für ca. 5 Minuten weiterkochen bis das Linsengericht eingedickt und heiß ist. An dieser Stelle zerdrückt Ottolenghi die Linsen mit einem Kartoffelstampfer um die Konsistenz eines stückigen Hummus zu erreichen, ich bevorzuge die Linsen intakt.

In einer flachen Schale mit dünnen Zwiebelscheiben, gehacktem Koriander, etwas Olivenöl und einem Hauch von Paprika servieren. Zusammen mit hart gekochten Eiern wird dies ein noch gehaltvolleres Hauptgericht.

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Lettuce cups with red pepper lentil balls

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Vibrant colours, bright flavour hits and warm spicy notes – all combined in these wonderful Turkish red pepper & lentil balls served on emerald green baby romaine lettuce. Turkish mercimekli köfte make a fabulous appetizer for a crowd, great finger food for a party, brilliant brunch fare or vegetarian meal and look stunning while being super easy to prepare and assemble. In the interest of stability when served as finger food I’d go back to its original shape of a small köfte, an oblong loaf shape, rather then the admittedly prettier balls which only pretend to remain stationary but suddenly start to roll on the lettuce like a fast spinning roulette ball Continue reading

Aubergines with buttermilk sauce & pomegranate seeds

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I absolutely love aubergines: big shiny purple or the white ones perfectly illustrating why they are also called eggplant, small green or tiny pea-sized aubergines from Asia, long & slender Middle Eastern varieties. The almost meaty flesh is the epitome of savoury when fried, grilled or roasted, creamy and satisfyingly unctuous it melts on the tongue and offers itself as a worthy partner to almost anything from other vegetables (Ratatouille to name but one), lamb or feta or chicken, chillies and coconut or stands proudly on its own when charred for Baba Ganoush – any recipe featuring aubergines is my friend, especially when a meatless dish is called for.

My aubergine guru is Ottolenghi, who seldom lets me down and these divine aubergines with za’atar, a tangy yoghurt-buttermilk sauce & pomegranate kernels guarantee you plenty layers of flavour. One half is a perfect starter, two halves are my favourite lunch Continue reading

Lamb meatballs in tomato sauce

lamb meatballs

 

On Saturday we have been wined and dined exquisitely, including a spectacular tasting goose with all the trimmings. There is nothing so joyful than a long table full of happy people, laughter & merriment, champagne, good food and a few treasures form a well-stocked cellar. I am still dreaming about that particular goose with apple, thyme & chestnuts, red cabbage and Klöße (dumplings) and I am quite sure that something along those lines will become our Christmas dinner.

I don’t know about you, but I never have problems thinking about dishes for big occasions: Christmas, birthdays, dinners and can daydream about splendid meals – preferably perusing favourite cookbooks on a weekend lie-in where the only problem that presents itself is to make a decision when spoilt for choice. The everyday supper on the other hand proves more of a challenge: a weekday meal has to be simpler though equally tasty and sumptuous not just nutrition. Continue reading

Leeks with yoghurt, dill & sumach

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I am on a continuous quest for new vegetable dishes to ring the changes: alternative preparations, different seasoning spices & new flavour combinations who will not only rejuvenate the usual suspects of sides but add an exciting twist & surprise us with hitherto unknown delightful tastes (with occasionally mediocre results or sad failures). Even better, when those experiments turn out to be such marvels and immediately join the ranks of the favourites, like these leeks with yoghurt, dill & sumach.

Elementary ingredients of Greece & the Levant give the leeks a flavour makeover: the various citrus notes of dill and sumach accentuate the inherent sweetness of the leeks while the seasoned creamy yoghurt refreshes and adds piquancy at the same time. A fantastic little side that goes with absolutely everything from Middle Eastern to Western cuisine, lamb tagine to pork chops, falafel or cauliflower fritters, roast chicken or this gorgeous citrus-spiced salmon. Did I say, it is a cinch to make? Well, it is ready in a few minutes: assemble the yoghurt dressing while the leeks steam, drizzle it on and finish with a final flourish of crimson sumach. Done. How fast was that? Continue reading

Falafel with lemony tahini sauce

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Deutsches Rezept am Ende…metric Recipe in German at the end…

Falafel is either made with dried chickpeas or broad (fava) beans or a combination of the two. Most Middle Eastern countries use chickpeas, I have tried the Egyptian broad been version (called ta’amia and the Egyptian National dish according to Claudia Roden) for its hearty, nutty flavour and meaty texture. All largely owned to the ingenuous combination of cooked and raw pulsed beans in the Moro recipe (Please note: fava beans must be cooked & the ground raw beans will get cooked when fried), though chickpea falafel are equally delicious & healthy.

Nowadays veggie burger and bean fritters are ubiquitous as vegetarian alternatives to meat but this fantastic Middle Eastern street food deserves more attention than being just Ersatzmeat. I love a mezze spread with lots of different plates & bowls to pick, dip and nosh from (luckily we are catching up with this convivial food sharing where it is allowed to taste from other plates, yes, I am that person but normally contain the urge) and thinking about it, I always favoured the 24 starter plate (tiny portions) over any main course when we went out for Egyptian food and never ordered anything else. Continue reading

Citrus-spiced salmon

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See below for the recipe in German, siehe unten für das Rezept auf Deutsch

This is a fabulous oven-cooked salmon dish with a fragrant spice rub where the different citrus notes of orange, sumach & lime are enriched by woodsy cumin, warm cinnamon & scented pink rose petals. Minimum work for maximum flavour and the colours are equally beautiful. I bet you will fall in love with this Persiana recipe the moment you’ll grind the rose petals for the rub. I am no expert on Persian cuisine but Sabrina Ghayour’s book is one of my favourite books since I opened it and daydreamed of eating every single one of its enticing & mouth-watering pictures & recipes.

We have already had this three times and it could have been four times, if I had not foolishly decided to Nobu-Miso-Marinate the last salmon I have bought, that very pretty & expensive piece of wild, hand-caught, artisan, signature, super duper ‘loin’. You may want to skip the rant and rejoin at the beginning of the next paragraph… or: Let’s just say, I’ll reserve judgement until I try the original version with Black Cod but that was some wasted Mirin-candied salmon. To smoothly round off the whole saccharine fiasco (and adding even more sweetness), Ottolenghi let me down as well with a Japanese-ish vegetable side with a sweet sesame sauce (the name might have been a hint, more Mirin). Though, I am quite sure we’ll make up very soon. Rice was good.

Back to the good news… Continue reading