Lentils

Yellow Dal with Curry Leaves

The scent of spices cooking in the kitchen always gives me a sweet nostalgia for our days in India. It spins me off into long daydreams about our adventures. Using our hands to scoop up dal and rice. The sweet, comforting smell of chai dancing through the train carriage. Thick clouds of steam drifting off our plates of biriyani.

Yellow Dal with Curry Leaves

Being the foodies that we are, we talk about these moments (and food in general) a lot. But we also love spending time trying to recreate these special flavours at home. We make this Yellow Dal nearly every week, as we love it so much! It’s simple to prepare, has incredible flavour and is perfectly comforting without being too rich. Our Millet Flatbreads are an amazing side to this, or else it's really delicious served with short grain brown rice. 

Fresh curry leaves are the star of this dal. Tempered with spices and coconut oil, then added to the dal at the end, they add such an aromatic, tasty flavour to the whole dish. They also have some incredible health benefits - including anti-oxidant properties. Some studies have even found that the chemical constituents in curry leaves are helpful in fighting cancer! You can find fresh curry leaves in an Asian supermarket, avoid the dried ones, as they don't have any flavour.

Even if you haven’t been to India, we hope the scents and flavours of this dish transport you to some place warm and special …

Ingredients (Serves 4-6 with rice or breads)
for the dal:
2 cups split red lentils or tur lentils, well rinsed and drained
1/3 cup tomato pasata or 2 medium tomatoes
1 large onion, finely sliced (half for the dal, half for the tadka)
1 inch ginger, finely chopped
25 fresh curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder or grated fresh turmeric
2 green chillies (optional) 
2/3 tsp salt

For the tadka: 
2 tblsp coconut oil
1.5 tsp black mustard seeds
15 fresh curry leaves
1 dried kasmiri chilli (optional)

Method:
Put the rinsed lentils into a large pan and cover with water by 4-5 cm. Add in all of the remaining dal ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for around 30 minutes (45-60 with tur dal). The lentils should be very soft, use a potato masher or a wooden spoon to mash them into a creamy texture. You can add more water or simmer for longer depending on the consistency you like. We like ours like a thick soup. 

For the tadka, heat the coconut oil in a small non stick or small heavy bottomed pan. Then add the mustard seeds and cook for around 20-40 seconds until they are all popping. Then add the remaining half of sliced onion, the curry leaves and the chilli if using. Stir fry on a medium to high heat for 5 or so minutes until the onions just start to brown, then add the whole mixture into the lentil pan. Mix very well and then leave covered for at least 15 minutes for the flavours to infuse before eating. 

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Wishing everyone an incredible New Year! 

Roasted Celeriac with Lentils, Mint & Tahini

Celeriac may not be the prettiest root vegetable, but it has a delicious, sweet & nutty flavour that goes so well with fresh herbs. We've loved experimenting with this underrated root recently... it's equally delicious roasted or mashed & it's currently in season in the UK, so it's a really sustainable option too!

Roasted Celeriac with Lentils, Mint & Tahini

Seeing as Tahini is one of our favourite ingredients, it also seems fitting that the two foods go perfectly together. Made from ground sesame seeds, tahini is a really versatile, rich ingredient used in a lot of Middle Eastern recipes. We seem to get through a lot of tahini every week, but thankfully it's full of goodness & is completely delicious! It's also a great source of calcium, B vitamins, iron and potassium. If you can, try and buy tahini made with un-hulled sesame seeds, as they keep more of their nutritional content (we love the organic version by Meridian). 

Bay Leaves - Roasted Celeriac with Lentils, Mint & Tahini
Mint Leaves

There are a few steps to this recipe, but it's well worth the effort and time! This dish works great as a main served with salad and pickled vegetables, but it would also work well as a side dish or part of a mezze. We hope you enjoy it! 

Ingredients (Serves 4 as a main dish with a side)
1 Large celeriac (Approx 1kg)
A large bunch of fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp tahini
150g of green/put lentils, well rinsed
6 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp of dried thyme
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp good quality olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or fire cider
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt & pepper

Method
-First, add the lentils, thyme and bay leaves to a pan. Add plenty of water and boil gently until just cooked through (20-30 minutes depending on the lentils).  They should retain their shape. 
-While the lentils are cooking prepare the celeriac. Chop into 1 inch pieces and parboil in salted water for 6-8 minutes until just soft. Drain and add to a deep baking pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then roast in the oven for around 30-40 minutes until crisp and golden. 
-Once the lentils are cooked, drain them well and remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. In a bowl mix the lentils, while still hot, with 1tbsp of olive oil, the vinegar, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
-In a small bowl, mix the tahini with 2-3 tbsp of warm water until smooth and pourable. 
-Once the celeriac is cooked removed from the oven and mash some of the pieces in the pan for a good texture.
-Then divide the lentil mixture evenly over the celeriac. Generously scatter over the chopped mint and drizzle with half of the tahini dressing. 
-Serve the rest of the tahini individually at the table with even more chopped mint.

Roasted Celeriac with Lentils, Mint & Tahini

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Have you ever cooked with Celeriac? We'd love to hear your experiences!

Superfood Spotlight : Sprouting & Microgreens

It's official, we've gone mad for sprouting...
As people who eat a whole load of legumes/nuts/seeds on a daily basis, we were really intrigued by sprouting for quite a while and all the benefits they contain. After a few months experimenting and consuming a lot of different sprouts and microgreens along the way, we're completely hooked on this process and wanted to share the love with you all!

Unfortunately, it sometimes seems like being healthy is just another industry we're led into spending money on. Enticed by online hype and reviews, there is often this sense of pressure to buy the latest 'superfoods' that promise a new level of health. And while we use and love a few of these incredible natural foods/medicines, they always seem to come with a heavy price tag, leaving this stale impression that health is only attainable for those with money.

Sprouts break all the rules when it comes to this. This is an everyday superfood that is so easy, cheap and fun to make! Sprouting and growing microgreens are such accessible processes that will supercharge any legumes/nuts/seeds that you have in your cupboards and quite literally bring them to life with nutrients. 

Sprouting Chia seeds

What is sprouting?
Sprouting is the process of soaking certain dried grains/legumes/nuts/seeds until they germinate. Depending on the sprout, they can then either be eaten raw or cooked. We love to use our to make hummus, sprouted bean burgers and to sprinkle on top of meals for an extra kick of nutrition. 

What's the problem with dried legumes/grains/nuts?
To protect themselves from being eaten in nature, legumes, grains and seeds/nuts coat themselves in a layer of phytic acid. Beans are smarter than you thought, right?! They also contain enzyme inhibitors - this is what makes them dormant and long lasting, and is why we can't eat them before cooking. 

The problem is that the phytic acid stops us from absorbing many essential minerals and vitamins in our stomachs. Find it hard to digest certain beans/chickpeas/lentils? This is why!  The enzyme inhibitors give our body a hard time trying to digest this type of food … making us feel bloated, gassy and all the rest. 

Why is sprouting good for us?
So by soaking and sprouting our legumes/grains, we turn them into living, nutrient rich plants once again! This process balances out the enzyme inhibitors and removes the physic acid, which makes the food a lot more digestible for our bodies and with a higher protein content. 

More great news, throughout the sprouting process the legumes/beans literally come alive with nutrients - increasing the vitamin A, B, C by more than double, as well as creating phytochemicals , rich in calcium, iron and zinc

sprouted urid beans

Tips before you start sprouting:
*
Some beans/grains/nuts will be easier to sprout than others. Some easy options to start with are brown/red lentils, mung beans & chickpeas. 
*The sprouting time will completely depend on what beans/grains/nuts you are choose. Some will take 8 hours to sprout, whilst others can take a few days. It's easy to find all this information online. 
*Certain nuts/beans cannot be sprouted (e.g. peanuts & kidney beans). Always check before you begin sprouting!
*If you're using really old beans/nuts, be warned that this may effect the likelihood of sprouting. 

So now the fun part - how to make sprouts:

Sprouting in a jar
-The easiest thing for this is to buy a special sprouting jar (we bought ours on Amazon), but if not then an ordinary glass jar is fine! If opting for the latter, you will need to cover your jar top with a piece of fine cloth or muslin, securing with an elastic band.

1. Rinse your dried legumes/nuts/seeds in water. We usually sprout around 3-5 tablespoons at a time. Place in the jar, cover with water and leave to soak over night or for 12 hours (with the cloth covering the mouth of the jar). 
2. After the soaking, drain the water from your jar (pouring the water through the cloth). Rinse the sprouts in water and drain again, leaving the cloth on throughout the process. Position the jar at an inverted angle so it can drain out any remaining water (we suggest using a dish rack). *Leave the jar out of direct sunlight*.
3. Repeat this rinse and drain process twice a day. After 1-3 days, you will will see little tails beginning to form on your sprouts! 
4. Once your sprouts are ready, give them a final rinse and make sure all the water is fully drained off. They're now ready to eat, blend, cook and sprinkle on meals. Store them in the fridge in an airtight container - they will last around 4-5 days. 

Sprouts - Putumayo Kitchen

A word on Microgreens
Microgreens are similar to sprouts and equally as easy to make, however they are grown in soil and in an open air environment. They can be grown inside on a windowsill, or outside in your garden. Only the stems and leaves of the microgreens are eaten, and despite their small size they are extremely dense in nutrients & benefits! 
*Some microgreens we've loved experimenting with have been mustard, chia, sunflower & watercress seeds. 

How to grow Microgreens  
You will need: a shallow tray/empty egg box OR patch of soil in your garden, seeds & some organic soil. 
1. If growing inside, fill your tray with roughly 1 inch of soil, patting it out to make sure it's even. 
2. Evenly scatter your seeds on the surface of the soil. It's best to be generous with the amount of seeds you use, as you will want to harvest a lot from each tray. 
3. Spray the surface of the tray with water - the seeds need to be moist in order for them to germinate. *Leave in a sunny place - we put ours on a windowsill*
4. Continue to spray the seeds twice a day to ensure they stay moist. We normally water ours at breakfast & dinner time, just out of convenience. Depending on the seeds, the greens should be ready to harvest after 1-3 weeks. 
5. Once grown to a couple of inches, trim the greens with scissors and rinse thoroughly. Your microgreens are now ready to use! We love to sprinkle ours on top of meals or mix into a salad for extra tastiness. 

Chia microgreens

Have you ever tried sprouting or growing microgreens? We'd love to hear your experiences!

3 Pulse Stew with Sumac and Thyme

I remember when I first stopped eating meat, everyone under the sun wanted to know where I was getting all my protein, calcium, iron and all that jazz.

image.jpg

Despite all the doubts for my survival, 5 years later I’m still breathing – and we both genuinely feel healthier and brighter with this conscious way of eating. Luckily for us, plant-based food has become more and more popular over the past few years. The raised eyebrows and invasive questions are less frequent occurrences, but we’re also quicker in our responses. And more importantly, in tune with what our bodies are in need of.

So in search of a dish that is high in protein but also incredibly delicious, Joe spontaneously created this fragrant 3 pulse stew with sumac, thyme and a precious mix of spices. With chickpeas and two types of lentils, this dish is perfectly rich and fulfilling for even the strictest of meat eaters. But it’s the blend of flavours that transform the stew into something special; with dried herbs, sweet cinnamon and lemony sumac combining to create a nourishing bowl of mini-heaven!

Ingredients

2 Medium Onions (Sliced)
5 Tomatoes (Diced)
2 sticks of celery (finely chopped)
200g of dried chickpeas (can be substituted with 1 tin of chickpeas – however these should be added in after the dish has been simmering for roughly 1 hour, or else they may break too easily)
3 tablespoons of split red lentils
3 tablespoons of whole green or brown lentils
5 gloves of garlic, crushed and chopped

A bundle or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of sumac
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
3 All spice berries
Sea salt to taste
Fresh Parsley to garnish

 Instructions 

1. If using dried chickpeas, soak them in water overnight with half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.

2.In a large saucepan, cook down the onion and celery in plenty of olive oil or coconut oil. When the onions are just beginning to turn brown, add the spices to the pan and fry for roughly one minute.

3.Next, add the tomatoes, garlic and a large pinch of sea salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes.

4. Add your chickpeas and lentils to the pan, stirring well. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 2-3 hours with the lid on.

5.**While cooking, you will occasionally need to add more water to the pan as it gets absorbed by the lentils. We normally let the water cook off so that the stew catches slightly on the bottom of the pan, and then add in the extra water. We find this process really enhances the richness of the dish. **

6..The stew will be ready once the chickpeas become tender and you can mash them with a fork. The final dish should be saucy, but not with too much liquid. By now, it will smell amazing!

7. Before serving, garnish with a little dried oregano and plenty of fresh parsley.

8.Enjoy! We love to eat ours with polenta and dark greens.