I love food which is easy to cook, taste – full and using spices, herbs and even leftovers it allows me to creatively change the dish everytime I cook it – I just never know how it is going to taste. I love the process of whole spices and then grinding them by hand the smell is just heaven and they seem to last longer than the ground spices. My son stands on a chair next to me and bashes the spices, the peppercorns etc. Sure most don’t quite end up in the bowl, but he smells them as he bangs them and sings. I tend to steam quite a lot of veg and so I reserve the liquid in a jug in the fridge and use this liquor with or without a stock cube to up the nutrient content. I also use this liquid to dilute smoothies instead of milk. ( Veggie Water)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbps Olive Oil
  • 750g Chicken pieces preferably with bones thighs or drumsticks
  • 1 Mug Lentils Puy Lentils/ Split Yellow Dal or Split Black Dal or Merchant Gourmet Lentils in a bag
  • 1 Inch piece of Ginger
  • 2-3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 – 1 ½ tsps Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Cumin/Jeera
  • 1-2 Dried Red Chillies
  • 1 tsp Dried Coriander Seeds
  • 1 Oxo cube stock
  • 1 Handful Fresh spinach
  • 1 Pinch Black pepper
  • Salt to taste as the stock cube is salty

Method

  1. Put the oil in the saucepan and heat up, once hot add the chicken and fry until brown on the outside.
  2. In a pestle and mortar grind the fresh cumin, chillies, coriander seeds, black pepper and sliced ginger.
  3. Chop the garlic with the rock salt – helps to bring our the flavour and gives it a rough surface to grind against .
  4. Add the ground spice mixture and garlic to the sizzling pan.
  5. Stir altogether with the chicken so it is nicely covered and be careful not to let the garlic burn.
  6. Add the hot stock to the saucepan and stir to add the spices to the liquid and then add the dal.
  7. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid can be quite thick when finished – if you wish. Takes about 30 minutes just check the chicken is cooked right through and there is enough liquid to ensure the dal cooks and doesn’t burn.
  8. I then stir in raw spinach or perhaps grated raw courgette which steams nicely in the heat.
  9. If there is any left it will taste better the next day once the spices have a chance to marinate and smooth out.
  10. Eat with natural yoghurt and chapati’s – if vegetarian you can follow the same recipe and omit the chicken and use veggie stock, to make a great dal stew which you can add mushrooms to or tofu or just crunchy veg.
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Variations and Tips

Please do experiment with this you can easily make this veggie full or substitute the chicken for red meat, fish or seafood.

Red Meat:

Follow the chicken recipe and add the meat at the same stage and allow to cook for as long as required depending on the cut of meat.  If using a shin or a tougher cut at this stage I would just add it all to a slow cooker and walk away and get on with the rest of the day knowing you have a great meal waiting.

Vegetables:

The basic recipe is the same once you have fried off all the spices and your kitchen smells amazing then I would add the stock and the dal and cut your vegetables evenly carrots, broccoli, ladyfingers, squash all work well and mixing up whatever you have in the house will give you a beautiful mixture of colours and textures.  I tend to add them at different stages so I dont overcook my carrots or broccoli for example.

Seafood

I would follow the vegetable recipe add defrosted or fresh seafood or fish at the end once everything else is cooked so that the fish is not over cooked and doesnt fall apart. Good types of fish are monkfish, cod, haddock, salmon and prawns.

Personally we mix the vegetables and the meat/seafood as it is a great way of bulking up expensive cuts of meat or expensive fish like monk fish or cod.