Tag Archives: lentils

How To Eat More Vegetables

Lentil Dal with Panch Phoran

This week is National Vegetarian Week, 20-26 May, a week devoted to all things veggie. Loads of people are now singing the praises of a meat-free (or mostly meat-free) diet. Even notorious carnivore Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall now eats little meat or fish, declaring in the Guardian recently: “we need to eat more vegetables and less flesh because vegetables are the foods that do us the most good and our planet the least harm.” (Which I basically agree with.)

It just goes to show that you don’t need to be a vegetarian to appreciate that vegetables are a good thing and most of us should be eating more of them. National Vegetarian Week, and its subsequent outpouring of recipes and resources from all those involved, can be a good starting point for those who need a little vegetable inspiration.

Here are my suggestions for how to eat more vegetables, including easy vegetables to start with, and a rock solid vegetarian recipe that will please all palettes (provided they can handle a bit of spice).

Get Some Vegetables

Start with easy vegetables. By “easy”, I mean easy to clean, prepare and cook (a muddy beetroot is not a good place to start). A beautiful vegetable, raw or cooked can form the basis for any number of dishes, be it pasta, lentils, omelettes, pizzas…even a humble green salad can be perked up with a few grilled bell peppers.

Here are my go-to staple vegetables, organised by cooking technique, for easy-to-make and tasty-to-eat vegetarian and vegan meals:

  • Easy to cook greens (stir-fry with onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper – add chilli flakes if you want a kick): Kale, cabbage, spring greens, spinach, swiss chard
  • Good stir-fry vegetables (a great basis for tossing with pasta, rice, beans or lentils for a complete meal; garnish with crumbled feta or some toasted nuts and seeds and you’ll be glad you did): Carrots, peppers, mushrooms, greens, broccoli, asparagus, green beans
  • Good raw vegetables (simply slice / chop and eat, with hummus or salad dressing if you’d like): Carrots, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, radishes
  • Vegetables that are good on the BBQ (baste with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, throw it on the BBQ – this is a basic one-stop solution to making vegetables amazing): Asparagus, courgettes / zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers

Kate's awesome grilled veg

A Good Vegetarian Meal Doesn’t Try to Fake it

Of course, a few vegetables alone don’t make a meal. So what are your options? My advice is to cook something that is inherently vegetarian and not some kind of mock-meat sausage in disguise (this will only leave you banging for bangers). If there’s one cuisine that I have had consistent success with in pleasing all food lovers, vegetarians and omnivores alike, it is Indian food. And if there’s one dish that has rocked all of their worlds, it’s my lentil dal.

Red Lentil Dal with Greens and Raw Veggies

Dal is awesome because it’s vegetarian (vegan, in fact) by nature, easy and quick to make, and very adaptable to all manners of vegetables. You can make it as is, as simple lentils, or you can add in whatever vegetables you have on hand (cauliflower and spinach work especially well, but I’ve also had good success with carrots, chard and purple sprouting broccoli).

Served with some basmati rice (and if you’re feeling adventures, a cucumber and coconut salad), then you’ve got yourself a meal that’s nutritious, flavoursome and won’t make you think about the meat you’re not eating. Seriously, I have meat-eating friends who ask for this dal specifically when they come to visit. And a recent Airbnb guest, a real dal aficionado declared it “better than the dal I usually make at home”. It’s pretty special.

5.0 from 2 reviews

How To Eat More Vegetables
Serves: 6

Panch Phoran is a spice blend of fenugreek, mustard seeds, onion seed, fennel seeds and cumin seeds. You can buy the blend in Indian supermarkets, or make it yourself by combining equal parts of each of the above seeds. If you do make it yourself, make a lot of it, because you’ll be making this dal again and again. No joke.
  • 250 grams red lentils (masoor dal)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon panch shoran (a seed blend of equal parts fenugreek, mustard seed, onion seed, fennel seed and cumin seed)
  • 10-20 curry leaves
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 400g tinned diced tomatoes
  • pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup (or more) of spinach, cauliflower or any other vegetable you’d like to use in your dal

  1. Combine the red lentils, water and turmeric in a pot. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the dal is tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. While the lentils cook, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the panch phoran and curry leaves. As soon as the seeds start to pop, add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until the onion is soft (it should not brown).
  3. Add the tomatoes, cooked lentils, chili and salt. Cook for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavours to bend. Add your desired vegetable and let them simmer in the dal until they are cooked. Note: if using spinach or any other quick-cooking green, add this at the very end just before serving.
  4. Garnish with cilantro, if you’d like. Serve hot with basmati rice or warm naan bread.


This post originally appeared on Great British Chefs website.

Pistachio and Cranberry Veggie Roast

Pistachio & Cranberry Veggie Roast

I’m back in Chicago for Christmas and have been happily very busy, mostly with things involving food. As I’ve written previously, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect veggie roast. Thanksgiving was good practise – and great fun – but Christmas adds an extra layer of “special” since I’ll be spending it with my family.

The veggie loaf I’ve settled on is this Pistachio and Cranberry “Nut Roast”, adapted from Anna Jones’ recipe in the Jamie Oliver magazine of all places. But I really do love it. She bills it as a “nutroast”, but there’s a whole lot more going here – a risotto-style base of barley (or arborio rice), mushrooms, cheese, pistachios of course, plus lots of Christmassy herbs like rosemary and sage. The best part, though, is the cranberry “glaze” on top that makes it actually look pretty appealing, rather than just a vomitty-colored lump of congealedness on a plate. Plus, cranberries are great with pistachios. And cooking the rice in a risotto-like manner with white wine, wild mushrooms and porchini mushrooms gives the loaf that super umami flavour that you really need on Christmas.

I made this for the Thanksgiving crew and everyone enjoyed it. I’ve adapted it slightly to include lentils for added texture. A slice of this veggie roast requires cashew gravy and, if you’re me, my aunt’s killer cranberry chutney.

Pistachio and Cranberry Veggie Roast

  • A small handful of dried porcini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 90g risotto rice or pearl barley
  • 60g puy lentils
  • 100ml white wine
  • 500ml hot vegetable stock
  • 200g mixed wild mushrooms
  • 100g pistachios, toasted
  • 100g almonds, toasted
  • A handful of breadcrumbs from sourdough or ciabatta
  • 50g strong cheddar cheese, grated
  • 225g ricotta cheese
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 sprigs each of sage, rosemary and thyme, leaves picked and chopped
  • 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • 200g fresh cranberries

  1. Cook the puy lentils in boiling water until al dente, then drain and set aside.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, make the risotto base: Soak the dried porcini in a little boiling water. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan over a low heat. Add the celery and onion and cook for 10 minutes, until soft and sweet. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
  3. Turn up the heat and add the rice. Cook for a minute or so until you hear it snap, crackle and pop, then add the wine and stir until absorbed.
  4. Drain the porcini, sieve any grit from the liquid and add this to the risotto pan, stirring until absorbed. Finely chop the porcini and add to the pan.
  5. Add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring each one in until it has been completely absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir as much as you can – this is what will make it creamy. Once the rice is al dente (when you break into a grain, it should be almost cooked through but still have a white fleck in the middle), transfer to a bowl to cool.
  6. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Fry the wild mushrooms in a little olive oil over a medium heat for 5–10 minutes, until they are just starting to crisp. Bash the nuts into coarse pieces, or quickly pulse in a food processor.
  7. Once the risotto has cooled, add all other ingredients except the sugar and cranberries, season, and mix well.
  8. Butter a 20cm loaf tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. Cook the sugar and the cranberries in a pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes, then tip into the tin and spread evenly. Pile on the nut-roast mixture and pack it down with the back of a spoon.
  9. Cover the whole thing with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for a further 15 minutes. Once it’s golden brown on top, remove the nut roast from the oven and leave to settle for 10 minutes.
  10. Use a knife to loosen the tin, then place your serving platter or board on top. Cover your hand with a tea towel and flip the whole lot over, then carefully lift the tin off. Serve with cashew gravy and all the trimmings.


Image credit: Many thanks to Emily for snapping the above picture on Thanksgiving. A very happy moment captured!

Yellow Pea Dahl

Yellow Pea Dahl

I went through a long phase where I was cooking and eating a lot of Indian food, so much so that I’m pretty sure I was one of those people who perpetually smelled like a curry house. Indian is one of my favourite cuisines and I feel like I’m at a point where I have a good repertoire of techniques and go-to recipes that work every time (red lentil dal with panch phoran, besan cheelas, cucumber and coconut salad to name a few).

But then suddenly the phase stopped. The recipes got old. I got bored. Then, a few weeks ago, my recent weekend with Urvashi Roe rejuvenated my appetite for Indian with a slew of new flavour sensations gained largely at her breakfast table and at the buffet at Sakonis. I’ve been heavily experimenting with new Indian recipes ever since.

Once such recipe is this Yellow Pea Dahl from the Green Seasons cookbook by Rachel Demuth. Though not Indian herself, Rachel’s traveled the globe, learned from the best and has been passing on her knowledge of Indian cookery (amongst other cusines) at her Vegetarian Cookery School for years.

This dahl caught my eye for its lack of tomatoes and inclusion of tamarind, a tart, sour fruit. The only substitution I made was to use channa dal rather than yellow split peas. This was such a refreshing change from my usual dal, with the lemony tang of the tamarind giving this a fresh edge. It’s also a cinch to throw together and does really well with a bit of spinach added to the mix. Give me this and with some raita, spicy pickles and warm chapatti, and I’m a happy camper.

I think this may even become my new breakfast “porridge”, but I’ll save my current savoury breakfast phase for another post.

Yellow Pea Dahl
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4

With a bit of tang from the tamarind, this dahl is a total surprise. It’s a fresh, light dahl, that works as well for breakfast as it does for lunch or dinner. Channa dal works a charm in place of the yellow split peas, and I suspect red lentils would be pretty good too. Reprinted with permission from Green Seasons cookbook by Rachel Demuth.
  • 150g yellow split peas
  • 6 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 600ml water
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tbsps sunflower oil or ghee
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 6 curry leaves
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch asafoetida
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste, diluted with 2 tsps water
  • 1 tsp jaggery or brown sugar
  • small handful fresh coriander, chopped

  1. Soak the yellow split peas in water for 30 minutes, then drain and rinse.
  2. Simmer the yellow split peas and shallots in the water until cooked, approximately 25 minutes, adding more water if needed.
  3. Add the salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Mix well, take off the heat and set aside.
  4. Heat the sunflower oil or ghee in a small frying pan and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the curry leaves, cumin and asafoetida, stir and remove from the heat.
  5. Add the tamarind and jaggery to the seasoned oil, return to the heat and cook until thick and bubbly.
  6. Heat the split pea mixture. Pour the seasoned oil over the split peas and stir in.
  7. Serve hot, garnished with fresh coriander.

Nutrition Information
Calories: 186 Fat: 2.9 Saturated fat: 0.3 Carbohydrates: 31.3 Sugar: 4.5 Fiber: 6.0 Protein: 9.7 Cholesterol: 31.3

Shorabat Addas: Lemony Red Lentil Soup

Shorabat Addas - Lemony Red Lentil Soup

Red lentils are a staple food of mine – they’re quick cooking, high in protein, and make delicious dals. They also make a great soup, as this recipe for Shorabat Addas proves. My mom introduced me to this Middle Eastern soup a few years ago and it’s become a staple of mine for its ease of preparation and seriously maxed out nourishment. You can bump up the “healthy” quotient by adding some greens to this – spinach and curly kale are great. My mom also sometimes adds finely diced sweet potato or rice for those days when you really need something filling.

Shorabat Addas – Lemony Red Lentil Soup

Serves 6

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 8 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Optional garnishes: Paprika, cayenne, bebere, piment d’espelette, chopped parsley or cilantro, yoghurt


  1. Wash lentils. Combine them with water or stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until lentils are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, saute garlic and onion in the olive oil over a low heat until transparent. Add the spices, onion and garlic to the cooked lentils.
  3. Add lemon juice just before serving.
  4. Garnish as desired and serve.

Shorabat Addas - Lemony Red Lentil Soup

Here are some more luscious healthy comforting soup recipes from around the web, inspired by the #jumpstart15 crew.