Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A different kind of comfort food

Nigella Lawson did a show once on “Temple Food”. This is what you eat when you need to get back in touch with your body after too many nights of rich dining or when you need to bounce back from a hangover.

I’d consider the simplest TF to be a bowl of steamed vegetables, naked and unadorned by butter or salt. Homestyle, something a restaurant chef would turn pale at the thought of serving to a punter.

After eating out all last weekend I wanted something a little healthier for my innards. This is comfort food – food nazi style. Beyond vegetables I needed something else with a hefty dose of fibre. I had a weird craving for lentils, something I hadn't cooked for years. Just as well dried legumes are virtually indestructable, as I had a very old packet somewhere at the back of the pantry.

Lentils and rice and lots of spice

Heat a little vegetable oil in a saucepan that has a well fitting lid.

Add a chopped onion and stir over medium heat. Add some spices. For this I used:
Lots of finely chopped fresh ginger
A large clove of garlic
A generous couple of teaspoons of garam masala
A small sprinkle of mustard seeds
A little bit of dried, crushed chilli

Stir in the hot oil until the onions are translucent and you hear some popping noises from the mustard seeds.

Throw in some brown rice and stir, then an equal quantity of raw brown lentils (if you have thought ahead it’s better to soak both first for a few hours). If you want to make a quicker dish, use basmati rice and red lentil. When the oil and spices have coated the grains add a plentiful amount of hot vegetable stock. As this will cook by absorption you need at least twice as much volume of stock to the rice and lentils. Don’t worry too much about getting the amount just right, as you can top up the stock if need be while it’s cooking.

Once it has come to a simmer, turn down the heat and put the lid on. Stir every once and a while. For white rice cook for about 20 minutes then make sure the lid is firmly on and leave to sit a further 15 minutes. For brown, check to see if the rice and lentils are almost fully cooked (about 30-40 minutes) and also leave to sit for quarter of an hour.

This dish goes well with steamed vegetables, curries and most things vaguely Indian. It is also a tasty dish to eat on it’s own or with some asian pickles.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Ange said...

I have Nigella's 'Nigella Bites' which has a whole chapter on temple food! It is as suggested, great food that is not too rich & very kind to the body. After each weekend which is usually excessive in food & wine, I try & eat so called temple type food during the week to get ready for the weekend onslaught again. The lentils sound yum.

12:05 pm  
Anonymous kitchen hand said...

totally delicious, I should do more of that kind of thing

2:34 pm  

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