Lentil As Anything

Turns out that the Guinness cake is “the nicest cake in the world” according to Paul. He’s not wrong. Like a good casserole, fine cheese, or Helen Mirren, it just gets better with age. On Tuesday I ate three pieces of the damn thing. Small pieces (evening things up, you know) but nonetheless: three. So there have been lentils aplenty to atone.

But you don’t need me to tell you that the oft-maligned, unsexy lentil is actually seriously awesome. Or do you?

Above: This was Sunday night’s dinner. I must admit that I ate a whole ton of jellybeans that were supposed to be for Tim -should his blood sugar go low- while he was at work. I figured the only way to undo this would to make lentil soup. Now, I don’t have a hard and fast recipe for this, as I am still experimenting in the hopes of finding the perfect prototype. I think this could be close. I sauteed two onions, and added lots of garlic, some ginger, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and turmeric. While this was softening and becoming headily aromatic, I tipped in half a cup each of organic Puy lentils, organic brown lentils, and red lentils from the bulk section at Pak’n’Save. Into this went a tin of chopped tomatoes, enough water to cover everything, plenty of salt…and that was it. It was pretty magical. Almost more of a curry than a soup, deeply flavoured with a marvelously thick texture. I thoroughly recommend you try it, especially if you find yourself crouching at the freezer with a spoon, surreptitiously eating your way through a tub of ice cream, or accidentally eating a whole loaf’s worth of overbuttered toast. Hey, we’ve all been there. Well, I have at least…

Above: This is what we had for dinner on St Patrick’s Day. Somehow it conspired that we had all the ingredients for that Autobahn classic, wedges with cheese, bacon, and sour cream. Even though there are probably far better uses for the bacon, at the time I couldn’t think of a better one. I served this with roasted capsicum and beetroot, which I drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Above: Larb, with Cambodian Cucumber Salad from my Healthy Salads of Southeast Asia book, which was Tuesday night’s dinner. Larb is a bit of an in-joke for Tim and me – I guess we’re odd like that – we were playing Scrabble this one time (by the way, for someone who read the dictionary for kicks as a child, I am awful at Scrabble), and I used the word Larb. Tim said it wasn’t real, I told him he was uneducated, and he asked if I could use it in a sentence. All I could think of was “this is my larb.” Anyway, we found this kind of hysterical (I don’t expect you to, that’s why it’s an in-joke) but finally wikipedia proved me right. I still didn’t win that game. The cucumber salad is a great use of this particular vegetable, crunchy with cashews and dressed with fish sauce, garlic, and other such good things. I liked it a lot, and Tim said “yes” when asked if it was nice so you might be seeing this again. I’ll only tell you larb story this once though, promise.

Above: Lentil Cashew Cakes! (I’m not actually quite sure what to dub them; ‘patty’ sounds too earnest and I find something suspicious sounding about the word ‘fritter’ so ‘cakes’ will have to do.) I saw this recipe in the recipe column of the Sunday Star magazine section. It was written by the wonderful Ray McVinnie, whose column in Cuisine is always outstandingly inspiring, so I should have known these would be nothing less than brilliant. Cooked up brown lentils are mashed with cumin, garlic, coriander, eggs, chopped cashews and a little flour, and fried till cooked through (I used my awesome non-stick pan that I got for my 21st.) These chubby little cakes are fantastic – the soft crunch of the cashews provides the perfect foil for the unfamiliarly grainy texture of the lentils. To go with, I chopped some cucumber up, tossed it in some Greek yoghurt with ginger and garlic (adapting another recipe from this column) and steamed some brocolli. Oh, and there were more wedges:
Above: Wedges!
Easter is just around the corner and though I’m not looking forward to doing assignments instead of flying home, I am very, very excited about making my first ever batch of Hot Cross Buns (Nigella, of course!)
Oh yeah – we went to the cricket on Saturday. Technically we got a good deal: we paid $25 for a ticket to the cricket, (which I don’t like), a tshirt (which I’ll never wear), a beer (which I don’t drink), and a piece of toast with (excellent) bacon and (watery, curiously fishy) eggs at the Loaded Hog before the game. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think Sports=Bullying (at least when I have to be involved, anyway) so it begs the question, what on earth was I doing there? Well, I was more than prepared to stay at home but I got told that it would be fun and that I should come and that it was a great way to spend nine hours of your life. So with this in mind it would be facetious (but not out of character) for me to slate cricket entirely; just because I hate something doesn’t always make it morally abhorrent. But for real: It is intensely tedious. At about 2pm I almost became frantic, panicky even , with boredom and no forseeable conclusion to this charmless game. There were many times when I turned to Tim and asked him – genuinely – if they were still playing or just having an hour-long team talk, because that’s what it looked like. There is literally nothing to see, and nothing to do but sit. I can’t emphasise this enough. On a positive note, we were sitting amongst the Barmy Army, who are truly a delightful bunch, convivial and entertaining and ready with a song for every possible eventuality. They chanted “Micheal Vaughan’s Barmy Army” for a full eleven minutes. Their insanity kept me sane. So, no more cricket. At least I know for sure now that I don’t like it. Does anyone want a free tshirt?

3 thoughts on “Lentil As Anything

  1. Kay says:

    Lentils for Lent – how appropriate!Be very impressed – whipped up a batch of muffins last night while the oven was still hot from reheating fish cakes. Am making another batch of muffins for Good Friday lunch at Viv’s tomorrow. Still wondering whether to do sweet or savoury – but there’s a few old bananas leaning towards the sweeter option. Had a wonderful roast chicken and 9 vegetables for welcome-home-Lynn dinner at Nana’s yesterday. Let the holiday begin!


  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ve never gone for Lentils much unless it was to put in soup to thicken. But you sound so enthusiastic, I might be forced to try one of your recipes. By the photos, they sure look good enough to eat. (I’ve always thought they created a lot of wind/gas and as you know our family doesnt need any reason or excuse in that department)Sorry you wont be home for Easter, but have your ears ready for reception when you meet with Lynn, we did so much enjoy her revelations on Tardun and WA. Havent laughed so much for ages. Better than a tonic.love and hugs, Nana


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