You know those days when you’ve been teaching until late and want something quick and tasty? Steak would do nicely, than you very much – but there’s nowt in the freezer so you have to think: what’s filling, doesn’t take too long, tastes great. Store cupboard contains a packet of green lentils, not the big fat ones, but little ones, bit like Puy lentils but not quite. They take an age to cook. Solution? Pressure cooker. So here’s what I did, and when I do lentils I think dhal, so I have no doubt there are culinary experts who can make suggestions on how to improve this recipe, but this is what I did, and it ended up surprisingly tasty.
First of all, I set the lentils going in the pressure cooker with plenty of cold water (I’ve destroyed pressure cookers in the past, and have learnt my lesson). Meanwhile, I sliced up some of onions and set them to fry in a pan with plenty of oil. I threw in some chopped up fresh ginger, plus some cinnamon sticks and a few green cardamoms, couple of cloves. While that was frying away, I ground up (in a pestle and mortar, best way) some coriander and cumin seeds, black peppercorns, dried chilli, fenugreek seeds, along with some paprika and turmeric.
I have this way of doing onions that I learnt from the Curry Club, years ago. When they start going brown, throw in a splash of cold water. This plumps them up, and means you can cook much longer without burning. So I kept on, chucking in some cold water, plumping up, etc etc, until they were rich and brown at which point I threw in the ground spices, boiled away, another splash of cold water, and so on. You need to keep an eye on it – the oil needs to get hot enough to release all the aromatics, but not so hot that the spices burn. By this time the lentils had had ten minutes or so at high pressure, so I turned off the gas and let the pressure cooker come back to ‘normal’ at room temperature. When I opened it, the lentils were still intact, but nearly done, and there was still plenty of liquid so I threw the lot into the pan with the spices and onions, boiled it away for ten minutes or so. At this point I reduced the heat and threw in some full fat Greek yogurt – the real stuff, intensely creamy and delicious. Heated it through.
Ate it, with a glass of Sicilian red left over from the weekend. It was bloody delicious. I’m writing this down, because my ‘throw-it-in-the-pot-and-see-what-happens’ recipes don’t always work, but this one certainly did, so I want to have a record of how I did it.