Lentil and vegetable curry - serving

L is for Lentil and vegetable curry

I picked up this recipe nearly 3 years ago and since then it’s been one of those great go-to recipes that I can tweak to whatever vegetables I have in. It contains at least 2 portions of your 5-a-day, is low in fat and is very tasty!

Lentil and vegetable curry - veg preparation

 

Making dahl for the curry

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 200g yellow lentils (washed)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 dried red chilis
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 2 small onions, finely sliced
  • 6 tomatoes (cut into quarters)
  • 1½ tsp ground corriander
  • 10 okra
  • 1 medium sweet potato – cut into ½inch cubes
  • a handful of green beans
  • 200g paneer cheese – cut into small pieces
  • a pinch of salt

Vegetable and lentil curry - adding the final veg

Recipe:

  1. Put the lentils in 1litre of  water in a large pan and bring to the boil. Spoon away any scum, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Add the turmeric and sweet potato and leave to soften for 20 minutes.
  2. The next stage is to make the tarka. Heat the oil in a frying pan, then add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, 1 tsp of sesame seeds, cloves and dried chillies.
  3. Once the mustard seeds have started popping, add the curry leaves and onion and a pinch of salt and leave for a few minutes until the onion has softened.
  4. Then add the tomatoes and ground coriander, give it a stir and leave for another 5minutes until the tomatoes have soften and the flavours are well combined.
  5. Add the tarka to the lentil and sweet potato mix (which should be nicely soft by now). Then add the tamarind paste, coconut if using, green beans and ocra and leave to simmer for a final 5 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile in frying pan you used for the tarka, fry the paneer in a little oil, sprinkling over the remaining sesame seeds. It should take a couple of minutes on each side for this hard cheese to take some colour. Add to the curry and it’s ready to eat.

Lentil and vegetable curry - with the toasted sesame paneer

 

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C is for Caribbean Chicken

This Caribbean Jerk Chicken recipe is a great dish to cook when you’ve got a good few mouths to feed. It takes a bit of preparation, but you can do this in advance. The coconut ‘rice n peas’ that I’ve served with it takes about 5 minutes of preparation, 5 minutes of cooking where you need to pay attention and then just leave to cook by itself whilst you chat to your guests.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

Preparation time: 15 minutes + minimum 2 hours to marinate (can be prepared up to 24hours in advance).

Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients: 

  • 6 chicken breasts (without skin or bones)
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 ½ thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, chopped up
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 60ml dark rum (and a dash extra for good measure)
  • 60ml lime juice
  • 60ml soy sauce
  • 120ml cider vinegar
  • 2 fresh red chiles, whole
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
Caribbean Jerk chicken - preparing the marinade

Caribbean Jerk chicken – preparing the marinade

Recipe:

  1. Put 3-4 small slashes into each chicken breast. This will allow the marinade to flavour to permeate the chicken.
  2. If you have a large food processor, get this out, else if you just have a hand blender find a container which wont have marinade flying out of (something tall).
  3. Put all the spices, garlic, fresh ginger, dark brown sugar, rum, lime juice, soy sauce, cider vinegar, chillies and onion in your container and blend until everything is a fine paste.
  4. Put the chicken breasts in a sealable container and pour the marinade over the top. Leave for 2 – 24hours.
  5. When you’re ready to cook, pre-heat the oven to 200°C
  6. In a tin-foil lined dish put the chicken and marinade. Cook for 30 minutes.
  7. After 30 minutes, prepare the ‘rice n peas’ recipe (below). Then take the chicken out the oven and pour out the majority of the watery marinade, then put back in the oven for another 30 minutes.
  8. The chicken should have a marinade crust on it and still be juicy in the middle.
Caribbean Jerk Chicken - marinated and ready for the oven

Caribbean Jerk Chicken – marinated and ready for the oven

Caribbean Jerk Chicken - just out the oven

Caribbean Jerk Chicken – just out the oven

Rice n peas

The peas are actually ‘gungo’ peas (also known as pigeon peas). If you can’t get hold of them, you can use red kidney beans or a mixed beans instead. I’ve also added sweetcorn as I’m a big fan of getting in as many of your 5-a-day as possible.

The stock can be made up using hot water and one vegetable stock cube or you can use pre-made stock, either will work equally well.

'Rice n peas' preparation

‘Rice n peas’ preparation

'Rice n peas' - preparation

‘Rice n peas’ – preparation

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 can gungo peas (pigeon peas) or black-eyed beans if you can’t get hold of them.
  • 200g sweetcorn
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 red chile, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 400g long grain rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Large pinch of salt
  • A few turns of freshly ground pepper

Recipe:

  1. In a large pan, add the oil and fry the onion over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes until translucent and starting to get a bit of colour. The add the chopped chilli and garlic and fry for another couple of minutes.
  2. Pour in the rice and slick with all oil, onions, garlic and chilli.
  3. Pour over the vegetable stock, coconut milk, thyme, salt, pepper and gungo peas and bring to the boil. As soon as the rice is boiling, turn the heat down low, put a lid on and simmer for 15 minutes (by which time all the liquid should be absorbed)
  4. 5 minutes before the rice is ready, add the sweetcorn and put the lid back on, then the rice should be sticky and ready to eat.

Serve both together and it should be a pretty good combination.