- 2 tbsp olive oil
Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…
- 2 large red onions (450g/1lb) finely diced
Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
- 1 mild red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
Part of the capsicum family, chillies come in scores of varieties and colours (from green…
- ½ tsp turmeric
Turmeric is a fragrant, bright golden-yellow root that is most commonly seen and used dried and…
- 1 small cinnamon stick
A fragrant spice which comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree. When dried, it curls into…
- 1 whole star anise
Star anise is one of the central spices in Chinese cooking. It has a strong anise flavour, with…
- 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed (retaining the black seeds inside)
- 250g Puy lentil, rinsed
The lentil plant (Lens Culinaris) originates from Asia and North Africa and is one of our oldest…
- about 700ml/1¼ pints hot chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1 large tomato
A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in…
- a large handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- a large handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
One of the most ubiquitous herbs in British cookery, parsley is also popular in European and…
Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan or cast-iron casserole set over a low to medium heat. Tip in the onions, garlic and chilli and stir well. Gently cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and very lightly coloured.
Stir all the spices into the onion mixture and gently fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and stock, then bring to the boil, uncovered, over a raised heat. Reduce to a steady simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, adding a generous pinch of sea salt halfway through.
Meanwhile, put the tomato into a mug or heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 1 minute. Run under cold water, then strip off the skin. Halve the tomato, flick out the seeds, then chop the flesh into a rough mush and set aside.
When the lentils are just tender but the consistency of the mixture is still sloppy and juicy (add more stock or water if necessary), remove the pan from the heat and fish out as many of the spices as possible. Season with black pepper, check to see if more salt is needed, then stir in the tomato and the herbs.
Getting aheadThe lentils can be cooked up to 3 days ahead (but don't add the tomatoes and herbs until just before serving). Refrigerate and bring to room temperature before gently warming the lentils through - you may need to add a touch more stock to the water.