Hybrid Lentil Soup. No Peoples, it is not half lentil soup, half Van Gogh’s boots. As a matter of fact, there are no boots in it at all. I have been thinking about my own interpretations of certain classic dishes recently. Take this –supposedly classic– lentil soup recipe as an example; it is half straight forward Turkish lentil soup, half Ezogelin soup. Classic lentil soup is not spicy whereas Ezogelin soup is. On the other hand, Ezogelin soup has fine bulgur in it but classic lentil soup doesn’t. My hybrid soup doesn’t have the bulgur but it is spicy. See what I’m getting at?
The recipe below changed and evolved over the years. I used family recipes, neighbours’ recipes, even some professionals chipped in at some stage. And the end result is nourishing, warming and full of flavor. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Afiyet Olsun!
1 cup split red lentils
6 cups drinking water
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried spearmint
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoon salt
Lemon juice to serve
• Wash and drain the lentils. Place them in a large pot –you’ll need that space for your hand blender as things get a little messy – and add water. Bring to a boil. Get a slotted spoon and a large plate ready. Place them near the cooking area.
• When you see foam building skim it with the slotted spoon and drop it on the plate –at some stage during this this process, the foam will get thicker. Repeat this until the lentil is cooked, ready to disperse itself into water and no more foam is building up.
• In a smaller pot, heat some vegetable oil. Add crushed garlic, tomato paste, sweet paprika, cumin, turmeric, spearmint and salt. Stir well. By using a soup ladle, transfer 1 or 2 spoonful of soup into this thick mixture, stir again and pour it back into the soup pot.
• Remove from heat. Plug the electric hand blender in and blend the soup in the pot until smooth. Work from your end of the pot and lift the pot up at the back if necessary. If you don’t have a hand blender, you could use a food processor for the job.
• Serve hot with freshly squeezed lemon, drizzled on top.
Serving suggestion: Serve with extra dried mint or Turkish chili flakes.
I found this recipe in Meena Pathak’s Flavours of India cookbook long time ago and it is called Karhai Jheenga. As Mrs Pathak says and I quote:
“It takes its name from karhai, the round-bottomed, cast iron pan in which it is cooked.”
I used to have one. I remember buying it from Fiji Market in Newtown when I first came to Sydney. However, because of that round bottom, I can’t use it on my electric stove. It’s a shame because food tastes better when cooked in karhai. Even deep-frying is a total bliss but it just doesn’t work on a flat electric stove unfortunately. Anyway, you could use a non-stick, electric wok instead. That’s what I do.
8 Lamyong Vegetarian Prawns, thawed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Ginger (about 3cm), peeled and grated
2 medium sized tomatoes, peeled and diced (try to reserve its juice)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
A handful fresh coriander, chopped finely
• Cut the prawns into two and then put them in a pot with enough water. Boil the prawns until cooked fully. Drain and set aside.
• Heat the oil, add the cumin seeds and when they begin to crackle add the diced onions and fry for 10 minutes. Add crushed garlic and grated ginger and fry for another minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, turmeric and red chilli powder.
• Sauté and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Sprinkle with a little water if needed.
• When the oil begins to separate, add the prawns, crushed black pepper and chilli flakes. Cook for 5 minutes stirring constantly.
• Remove from the heat and garnish with fresh coriander. Serve immediately with basmati rice.
This is a dish we used to get from a near-by Thai vegan restaurant. They even did home delivery. It was a total bliss for us until the place was shut down as the owners’ visa ran out and they had to go back to Thailand. Coming up with my own recipe for the dish took 3 attempts and a lot of research but it paid off in the end. Now that I am comfortable with my own recipe, I am thinking of adding it to my repertoire.
Roasted Faux-Duck Curry
400 ml coconut milk
2 large pieces of Lamyong Roasted Duck, thinly sliced
5 tsp red curry paste
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1×15 gram block palm sugar, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiled water
3 kaffir lime leaves: 2 torn into pieces, discarding the stem and 1 finely shredded (for garnish)
¼ fresh pineapple, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 red capsicum, cut into small pieces
8 small cherry tomatoes
Sweet basil leaves (reserve some for garnish)
• Pan-fry the duck pieces on high heat until they are crisp and set aside.
• Pour the coconut milk, torn kaffir lime leaves and red curry sauce into a wok and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
• Add the dark and light soy sauce and palm sugar. Simmer for 2 more minutes.
• Add the pineapple, red capsicum and cherry tomatoes and simmer for 2 minutes. Then add the sweet basil leaves and duck strips. Turn off the heat and serve garnished with the remaining kaffir lime leaves and sweet basil. Serve immediately with jasmine rice.