Curried Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup


Mmmmm….I love sweet potato. I love it sliced thick or thin, cut in large wedges or even just in half longways and drizzled with oil and fennel seeds then baked. It’s a great alternative to mashed potato and I’ve even grated it and used it in cakes. So versatile.


Or there’s this soup. A lower G.I. version of pumpkin soup.

30g butter + 30g olive oil
1 medium brown onion – diced
1 clove garlic – crushed
1 tsp fennel seeds
1\2 tsp turmeric powder
1\4 tsp curry powder
1 medium potato – diced
2 medium sweet potato – diced
1\4 cup red lentils
3 cups of water or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat butter and oil in large saucepan over a medium heat then add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, turmeric and curry powder and cook for about a minute.

Throw in the potato, sweet potato and lentils. Top up with the water, bring to the boil then lower heat, cover saucepan and allow to simmer away happily for about 30 minutes or until the potato and lentils are soft.
Season with salt and pepper.
You could eat it as is or purée in a blender or food processor.
Serve with a dollop of natural or Greek style yoghurt and some warm buttered bread.
Perfect for a cool Autumn evening.


Please enjoy…

Mjadra (Lentil and Rice Pilaf)


Yet another Lebanese Lentil dish. I did say we love lentils in this house.

I cooked a corn beef on Monday night, then made fritters out of left overs yesterday and then corn beef and mustard pickle sandwiches for lunch today. We are all corn beefed out. A quick SMS to my husband and tonight’s dinner is decided.

Healthy, vegan and delicious – Mjadra….

Here’s what you’ll need :-

1/2 cup green lentils

1 cup brown rice

1 1/2 large brown onions

2tbs olive oil

salt and pepper

2 1/2 cups water


Rinse the lentils then put in a medium saucepan. Pour over  cups cold water, cover and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn heat down to medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile chop 3/4 of a large onion into large dice and gently fry in 2 tbs olive oil until soft and just starting to brown on the edges then throw them, along with the oil, in with the lentils.

After the lentils have had their 10 minutes, stir in the rice, season with plenty of salt and pepper,  cover and bring back to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and leave to cook for 45 – 50 minutes or until the rice is cooked. (You can add a little more water if you think it needs it.)

When it’s done, turn the heat off and leave it covered while you thinly slice the rest of the onion and brown in 1 tbs olive oil with a sprinkle of salt. This is then served on top of the Pilaf.

We like this dish with a fresh tomato, onion and parsley salad and a spoonful of Greek yogurt.



Monks’ Soup – Lentil Soup with burghul dumplings. (Kibbet Rahib)

monk soup 5Meat overload yesterday.

Two birthdays were celebrated at my mum’s. Two very happy nieces.

As per our tradition, whoever is having a birthday gets to 1. Select the lunch menu,  and  2. Select their birthday cake.

My Saturday night was spent baking and decorating two very different cakes.I had a ball.

ImageImage                                                                                 For lunch, one niece chose barbecued chicken skewers and lamb chops while the other chose salmon sushi. (How’s that for variety?)

We had perfect cool but sunny weather, and very full bellies. However, there is always room for cake. Let me tell you now, my family is absolutely insane and we have the time of our lives when we get together.

So….after all that meat and rice and cake and sugar and coffee and conversation and laughter…it’s time for lentils and soup…

This one is traditionally eaten by Lebanese Christians during lent. It contains no meat or dairy. Our family eats it on the first day of lent while others will have it on Good Friday. I remember being in the kitchen helping my mum by stirring the big pot of soup while she put the little dumplings in.

As usual I’ve got to say, this recipe is very easy and delicious.

Make the dumplings by soaking 1/2 cup fine burghul (that’s been rinsed) in 3/4 cup cold water for about 30 minutes. The burghul will soak up all the water.


Grate 1/2 a large onion (you’ll need the other half for the soup) and add it to the burghul with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground pepper and 3/4 cup plain wholemeal flour. You can also add a little finely chopped mint leaves to the mix (I actually remembered the mint too late! Oh well, for this particular batch I’ll be adding it to the soup at the end. It’s all good.)  Mix it all very well with your hands until you get a dough-like consistency. Keeping hands slightly wet, roll teaspoons of mix into little dumplings.Image Set aside while you start preparing the soup.

Rinse 1/2 cup brown lentils and put them in a large saucepan.Pour in 5 cups of cold water, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are almost tender. In the meantime, dice the other half of your onion and cook in 2 tbs olive oil until starting to brown on the edges.

Once lentils are almost ready, pour in the cooked onion along with the oil. Now, gently lower the dumplings into the soup.Image Carefully stir them around, cover the pot and allow to very gently simmer for about 10 minutes while you crush 3-4 cloves garlic in a mortar and pestle with 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, the juice of half a lemon and 1/2 tsp dried mint leavesImage (this is extra mint, not the lot I forgot to add to the dumplings….).

After the 10 minutes, add the garlic and mint mix to the soup, stir, cover and leave to simmer for another 15 minutes.

We serve this with lots of toasted Lebanese Bread.




Lentil and Pasta soup (rishta)

imageWell, the sun’s finally found its way out of the clouds.  It’s been two weeks since we’ve seen it, and its pretty glorious. Still cool though. Went for a very long walk today. Feeling very healthy. Thought I’d keep with that theme by making a healthy and hearty soup.

Yep, lentils again. This is a great winter warmer. And doesn’t take much time or effort to make.

Rinse 3/4 cup of brown lentils. Put them in a medium saucepan and pour over 1 litre of cold water. Bring this to the boil, lower the heat, cover and leave to simmer. In the meantime, dice a medium brown onion and fry in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.image Once the onions have some colour to them, pour them over the lentils, cover saucepan again and leave to simmer for 40 minutes.

While that’s happening, make a little fresh pasta.  In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup plain flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil, pinch salt, and about 2 tablespoons water to form a dough. Leave it to rest for 10 minutes, then roll out very thinly into a long rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Dust with flour and fold or roll up loosely from the long edge. Cut into strips about 1/2 cm thick, then carefully unfold them.image

Gently lower the pasta into the lentils and onion, stir to separate the strands. imageSeason with salt and pepper. Take off the heat, cover, allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yes, it’s that easy……


Slow Cook Lamb Shanks in Red Wine and Lentils

shanks10This is one I’ve made a few times and each time it tastes a little different, but that’s because each time I put in different herbs, depending on what I have.

Cooking this for as long  as possible is the key for a thick luscious sauce and meat that will fall of the bone.

This is the recipe as I made it a few days ago. We ended up with extra lentil gravy, but that went down well the next day for lunch over smashed potato .

Needed: 4 lamb shanks (1 per person) seasoned well with salt, pepper and cinnamon

3 tablespoons olive oil

5 cloves garlic – roughly chopped

1/2 leek – cut in half longways, rinsed and thinly sliced

2cm piece of fresh ginger – finely chopped

1 small carrot – diced

1 stalk celery – stalk and leaves diced

1 – 2 chillies (depending on how you like it) – finely sliced

1 cup lentils – par-boiled (bring just over 1/2 cup of  lentils to boil in lots of water, let them simmer for about 10 minutes, strain and they’re ready to use)

250ml red wine

250g canned diced tomato

salt, pepper,1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon sugar, 4-5 bay leaves, few sprigs lemon thyme, 3 sprigs rosemary

shanks 1Heat the oil in a large oven proof dish and brown the shanks on all sides.  Take them out, turn the heat down to medium and add the leek, carrot, celery, chilli, ginger, garlic, fennel and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until soft.  Stir in the lentils, tomato, wine and about 1/2 cup of water.shanks2  Arrange the shanks in the sauce, making sure they’re nearly covered with the liquid, adding a little more water if you need to.shanks3

Cover with the lid and put in the oven at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes then turn down the heat down to 140 – 150 degrees and let it simmer away for 5 1/2 – 6 hours until the meat is tender or you can’t wait any more.

Take it out every now and again and stir it, turning the meat over in the sauce. Add more water if it’s looking too dry.

Lots of green beans and rice or potato on the side. Slices of crusty bread to mop up the sauce. A glass or two of your favourite red wine.