• 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2large red onions (450g/1lb) finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1mild red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1small cinnamon stick
  • 1whole star anise
  • 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed (retaining the black seeds inside)
  • 250g Puy lentil, rinsed
  • about 700ml/1¼ pints hot chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1large tomato
  • a large handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • a large handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped


  • STEP 1

    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.

  • STEP 2

    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.

  • STEP 3

    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.

  • STEP 4

    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.


The 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.


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