So I thought I'd start with my stock favourite, dhal (picture below by Louise Lister).
In praise of lentils
Esau sold his birthright for them, and so lentils (of all colours) are a good lenten staple - they are high in both protein and iron and quite tasty! You basically need to eat around a gram of protein per kilo of body weight each day, and a cup of uncooked pink lentils contain about 48 grams of protein (and 14.5 mg iron), so are an excellent food source.
There are hundreds of recipes for Lentil soup around, just google if you need one (serve it with a bread roll to complete the amino acid complement)!
But dhal is a particularly good and versatile food, not to mention particularly tasty. And spices and herbs are surprisingly high in many minerals and vitamins, and so often add quite useful quantities of these to the diet, which can be important if you are restricting your intakes!
The basic recipe is as follows:
1. Fry an onion, garlic, some ginger and some chili in a little oil.
2. Add spices - a good selection is around one - two tablespoonfuls of mixed spices for around half a standard packet of Lentils. A good selection is coriander, cumin, cardamon, a cinnamon stick, pepper and salt, a hefty dose of tumeric (amounts to taste, or google a recipe if you are not brave in experimenting!), but there are other spices you can consider adding if you like them (cloves, aniseed, mace, allspice, etc).
3. Add lentils, stir.
4. Add enough water to make a thick porridge (lentils expand quite a bit, but add too much water and it will be a quite tasty soup not a dhal!).
5. Boil gently approx 15 minutes until lentils are cooked, then add juice of 1-2 lemons to taste. Sprinkle with coriander leaves if you have them.
Serve with rice and other accompaniments (salad or perhaps another type of vege curry, plus any pickles or chutney in your cupboards!).
You can vary it by adding other things like:
- spinach (as well as taste adds iron, especially important for women, who if eating only from vegetable sources need around 32mg of iron a day (!) but fortunately less if you are including fish, eggs etc. Men need only a third of that.);
- cheeze (paneer is best) or egg (poach in the dhal) for extra protein.
If you have some Lenten favourite recipes, tell us about them in the combox!