guest post the first: pocket witch

Well hello there. It’s Laura here, Tim and I are still in America (reluctantly packing to leave intoxicating NYC, but excited to head to Nashville. My plan-so-cunning while I’m away, is to enlist a couple of dashing guest bloggers to keep afloat till my return with their own excellence. The first is my dear, dear friend Kate of She is bodacious and clever and inspirational, like all my dear friends, and it’s an honour to have her here. And, as she alludes to, there is some kiiinda ridiculous news ahoy. Consider yourself told! I’ll now hand it over to Kate. Or at least, point you towards her writing which I copy-pasted below. Hooray for modern technology. And lentils!
Hello! I’m Kate, and I can be found at my new blog, Pocket Witch. How nice to be asked to write a guest post for Hungry and Frozen! Laura is one of my very favourite people. We became friends IRL nearly two years ago when I blogged about wanting to join a book group, and she generously offered hers. As soon as we met I acquired the meanest friend-crush on her and Tim, and since then I’ve managed to worm my way into their lives as much as possible. To my wonderment, this culminated in being included in the cookbook crew, which was the most delightful time of satisfying work and uproarious play. So sad it’s finished! But onto the next adventure. I’m loving following along with Laura and Tim’s travels, and they are making me yearn for New York. Plus… how about that news! I literally cried in the street. Cannot wait to bombard them with inappropriately long hugs upon their return.
Laura has blogged quite a few recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, but I couldn’t help but pick another. You must believe me when I say, this is the BEST cookbook. I’ve made nearly twenty things from it by now, which is an unparalleled number. I don’t even own it yet! Yeah, I wouldn’t advise lending me this cookbook if you want it back in a timely fashion. Aside from the outrageous number of ingredients in some recipes, Plenty is a perfect book, with all of the vegetables, flavours and herbs, and has taught amateur-me some wonderful new ways with food.
I suppose I do wish I’d picked a slightly sexier recipe. Lentils! What was I thinking? The other guest blogger is Coco Solid, and I’m posting a tarted-up dahl. Sigh. But you can’t be fancy all the time (though I do try), sometimes you’re just in the mood for something kinda wholesome.
Strangely, this is one of his more simple and relaxed recipes, but still the most complicated and involved lentil/dahl-type dish I’ve made. But don’t let that put you off, it’s also likely the nicest dish of this type that I’ve made, really warming and the perfect amount of spice. The yogurt is an excellent topping, despite my detesting cucumber in most settings (I have a weird thing about watery, fresh-tasting foods, don’t get me started on watermelon). The inclusion of the cucumber and olive oil made the yogurt super fresh and silky, perfect to cut through the filling lentils. I also found the stirred-in butter a delicious necessity, though it’s effect was most known in my first, fresh bowl. Some coconut milk would be lovely if you were looking to make it vegan.

Spiced Lentils with Cucumber Yogurt

from Plenty or The Guardian
  • 200g split red lentils
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 40g ginger, peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 mild green chilli
  • 1½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 300g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • ½ tsp fenugreek (optional)
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (optional)
  • Salt
  • 150g Greek yogurt
  • 75g finely diced cucumber
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • 1½ tbsp lime juice

Wash the lentils in plenty of water, drain and soak in 350ml of fresh water for 30 minutes. Cut the coriander bunch somewhere around its centre to get a leafy top half and a stem/root bottom half. Roughly chop the leaves. Put the stem half in the bowl of a food processor, add the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli – all roughly broken – and pulse a few times to chop up without turning into a paste.
Put the mustard seeds in a heavy-based pot and place over medium heat. When they begin to pop, add the onion mix and sunflower oil, stir and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Add the spices and curry leaves, and continue cooking and stirring for five minutes longer. Now add the lentils and their soaking water, the tomatoes, sugar, fenugreek, asafoetida and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked.
Before serving, whisk together the yogurt, cucumber, oil and some salt. Stir into the lentils the butter, lime juice and chopped coriander leaves, taste and season generously with salt. Divide into bowls, spoon yogurt on top and garnish with coriander.
I didn’t use curry leaves (couldn’t find them nearby) or asafoetida (I don’t even know what that is). I did use fenugreek but you could skip it if trying to cut down on ingredients. I doubled the recipe, as it seemed like a lot of effort to go through to feed only 2-4 people, and this it made mountains. It fed two people for lunch most of the week, by the third day I was getting a bit tired of the idea of lentils, but as soon as I actually sat down and began to eat them the tiredness would disappear. Because they are quite fantastic.
Thanks for having me, Laura! Enjoy the rest of your amazing trip, you crazy kids.

7 thoughts on “guest post the first: pocket witch

  1. Annelise says:

    In our family we've recently started making curries from scratch and we found asafoetida in our local Indian food shop (Gasson Street, Christchurch). It apparently enhances the flavour of the other spices and is reminiscent of leeks. Not sure it's essential though – we couldn't taste any difference in our rogan josh. But thanks for your recipe, Kate – we'll be trying this one!


  2. Hillary Miller says:

    What a wonderful pics of Spiced Lentils with Cucumber Yogurt you have here.
    Perhaps you're interested to submit your food photos on a food photography site that has tagline “Food Photography that will make you hungry” :)
    It's free to submit, free to join, and a lot of members can enjoy your creation!


  3. Gem says:

    So, I just bought Plenty pretty much on the basis of this post. And Jerusalem because I figured your praise of Ottolenghi was that high! Thanks for the feature


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