I became a little bored with cooking Cordon Bleu on Saturday nights… not of the food, but rather of the predictability of having to cook, in sequence, recipes from the same cookbook.
In the absence of the rigidity of structure, I am left free to cook whatever I want. Armed with every food and recipe app ever approved by Apple, I was sure I would be able to produce the most exotic, exquisite dishes every week. But, surprisingly I found I had trouble coming up with a decent set of recipes each time. Though my initial idea was cooking something from different parts of the world, I have failed dismally to create anything resembling a world table.
I did this week manage to make an Afghan Aushak, leek and onion dumplings smothered in a tomato meat sauce, topped with yogurt and mint. Delicious combination.
However, it was the starter soup that won the grand jury prize for the day… a Red Lentil and chickpea soup with just a dash of chilli flakes. Of course, the bonus of cooking chickpea is that its opens the seductive possibility of making fresh Hummus… everyone’s favourite Middle Eastern Mezze dish.
The red lentil and chickpea soup however is a treat, and though I’m not sure of its origins, the inspiration is definitely Middle eastern, judging from the combination of the beans, the ground coriander, tomato and yogurt. Delicious hearty comfort food from what I suspect is some distant corner of the planet… or who knows, maybe it was dreamt up by an inventive housewife from Alice Springs…
A hearty comfort Soup : Red Lentil and Chickpea soup with a tiny kick.
- 2 tsp cumin seeds or 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- large pinch chili flakes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion , chopped
- 140g red split lentils
- 850ml vegetable stock or water
- 400g can tomatoes , whole or chopped (fresh tomatoes can also be used)
- can chickpeas
- small bunch coriander , roughly chopped (save a few leaves for decoration)
- 4 tbsp Plain Greek or Bulgarian yogurt , to serve
Dry fry the cumin fry until the seeds spatter or release their aroma (If you are using ground cumin, dry fry until you can smell the aroma)
add oil, onion cook over medium heat for 5 minutes without discoloring
add lentils, stock and tomatoes, bring to boil, simmer 15 – 20 mins until lentils soften.
Make sure the lentils dont soak up all the stock – so add water if needed.
When done puree with stick blender/food processor until it is a rough paste
Add the chickpeas and bring to boil
Simmer 5 minutes
Remove from heat
add coriander, stir through
you at this point, you could add a dash of cream to soften the flavor and smoothness.
Serve, dressing each the top of the soup with a dollop of yogurt and a splash of the remaining coriander.
Serve with warm pita bread, as is the custom when served in the Undoolya neighborhood in Alice Springs…