Steve's Spiced Red Lentils
The author says that the recipe was "adapted [...] from one given to me by a New Zealand chef who used to cook at Bibendum." I guess that'd be Steve, then, in case you were wondering.
Ingredients (serves 4):
9oz (250g) split red lentils
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
3oz (75g) butter
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
2 level teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1½ rounded teaspoons whole black or yellow mustard seeds
3 level teaspoons ground turmeric
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
4-5 thick slices fresh ginger, unpeeled
14oz (400g) fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
juice 1 large lime or 2 small limes
1 x 15g pack fresh coriander, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large pan, fry the onions in half the butter, until pale golden. Add half the sliced garlic, the carrot and the whole spices and continue to cook gently for a further 5 minutes. Stir the turmeric in until well blended, and allow it to cook for a couple of minutes. Tip the lentils in and add 10fl oz (275ml) of water, the coconut milk, ginger, tomatoes, 1 heaped teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. Bring up to a simmer and cook very gently, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and have all but dissolved into the liquid.
Remove the lentils from the heat. Melt the remaining butter in a small pan and, when it starts to froth, throw in the rest of the sliced garlic and stir it around vigorously, until it starts to take on a little colour. Tip it into the lentils immediately, stirring as you go (watch out for the spluttering). Add the lime juice and coriander, then taste, adding more salt if necessary.
Cover and leave to mellow for 10 minutes before serving, removing the slices of ginger before you do so. The mixture should retain enough heat to eat without reheating; this sort of dish does not taste as good when eaten piping hot anyway.
I ignored the ridiculous amount of salt, and just put in a pinch or so. Neither the Co-op nor Sainsburys sold mustard seeds, and I couldn't find my mustard powder, so I just used actual mustard. I didn't have any fresh coriander, but used some of the squeezy fresh coriander-inna-tube (this stuff is ace, you can squeeze it straight from the freezer, where it keeps forever) and some fresh parsley for the fresh-green-thing-ness.
I also (I now realise) forgot to peel the tomatoes, but for heaven's sake, life's too short to peel tomatoes.
The 10 minutes of 'mellowing' at the end is, conveniently, just long enough to do some ready-made naan bread in the oven, though if you're going to do this remember to switch the oven on at some point during the 30-40 mins cooking time.