Category Archives: Lentils & Beans


Chickpeas & spinach soup

Chickpea & spinach soup(2)

If you stock tins of beans and chickpeas in your larder as I do, you won’t have any trouble putting this together in a jiffy.  I used frozen whole leaf spinach which I always keep in the freezer as it is so handy just when you need to chuck in a few 100 grams of spinach in your curry, lentils or just steam to go with your meal.

This chickpeas & spinach soup is so yummy, I promise it will become a permanent feature on your menu.  This recipe produces two regular soup helpings and one whopping big helping for yourself on a cold, winter’s evening.  I resisted the temptation to use tomatoes!   I wanted to avoid an overwhelming taste of tomatoes but instead to allow the earthiness of the chickpeas to dominate without hindrance from any other competing flavour and as much as I love tomatoes, they do tend to take over!


Chickpea & spinach soup

2 regular, 1 meal size serving


1 tin chickpeas (400 grams), drained
80-100 grams fresh or frozen leaf spinach, chop fresh spinach (don’t be tempted to add more spinach as it will overwhelm the soup!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt to taste
250ml water


  1. Puree one-third of the chickpeas with a little water from the 250ml
  2. Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent but not brown
  3. Take off heat, add spices, oregano, whole and pureed chickpeas and water
  4. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes, then add chopped spinach and salt to taste
  5. Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes
  6. Adjust seasoning and check consistency for preference

Black-eyed bean & parsley soup

Blackeyed bean soup(2)

Soup as first course is fine, but a hearty, filling soup makes a beautiful meal and is a favourite with us.  A chunk of fresh crusty bread to accompany and what more can one wish for.  The beauty of hearty soups is you can bung in almost any vegetable, lentil and bean and come up a winner.  Add a handful of fresh herbs like flat leaf parsley, dill and coriander for a fragrant soup fit for angels.  And if that wasn’t enough to tempt anyone, black-eyed beans are full of goodness and onion and garlic are well-known for their therapeutic properties.  If you are in a desperate rush, you could use tinned black-eyed beans although these beans don’t require soaking and don’t take as long to cook as some other larger beans.

I have used black-eyed beans for this one and teamed it with flat leaf parsley – dill would do fine too or both! If you plan to freeze some just double the ingredients except for the oil – 3 tablespoons should be enough to fry 2 medium onions.

2 servings


½ cup black-eyed beans (black-eyed beans don’t require soaking)
1 medium or large onion, sliced (I used a large onion)
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large stick celery, chopped
1 full cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
¼ teaspoon turmeric
2 small sticks of cinnamon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2½ cups water – 450 ml
Salt & black pepper


1.    Put the beans in a saucepan, rinse and add 2 cups of water. Bring to boil, lower heat to lowest, cover with lid and simmer gently for about 40-45 minutes until cooked – don’t strain
2.    While the beans are cooking, fry onion and cinnamon sticks in olive oil until golden
3.    Add celery, parsley and turmeric and fry for 3-4 minutes to release flavours

Blackeyed bean soup

4.    Add cooked beans with the liquid and 2½ cups (450ml) water, salt and black pepper
5.    Bring to boil, cover and lower heat to lowest and simmer for about 20-25 minutes
6.    Check how thick you would like the soup – if too thick, add some more water and simmer for further 7-10 minutes. The soup in the picture is what mine looked like using 450mls of water

I serve mine with a slice of lemon or a dollop of natural yogurt like Sojade available at As Nature Intended, Planet Organic and Wholefoods or online



Brown lentils, squash & rice

Brown lentils & squash

Have been thinking about posting meals on a plate in addition to the individual recipe posts and this is one of them.  I am hoping it will make it simpler to have recipes for meals on plates all together in one post.  Some people enjoy cooking but there are others who just don’t or aren’t a dab hand at it, or simply don’t have the time to plan a menu and these posts should hopefully come in handy.

Brown lentils are whole orange lentils with the skin and have a sweet, nutty taste very like Puy lentils.  You can buy them at large supermarkets, Asian and Middle Eastern shops.  As always, any questions or queries, just drop me a line and I will do my best to help.

4 servings

When preparing a meal which includes rice, always soak the rice before you do anything else – it is perfectly fine for the rice to soak more than an hour, only improves Basmati rice!  That done, we can now put the lentils on!



1 cup brown lentils (these are whole orange lentils with the skin available in Asian stores and big supermarkets, similar in taste to Puy lentils)
½ medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
2 inch piece of ginger, grated or minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
About 12 leaves of fresh mint or 1 teaspoon dried mint

1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 tablespoons oil


  1. Wash the lentils and add all the ingredients except mint and bring to boil
  2. Turn heat to lowest, cover and cook for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and cooked
  3. Add mint (fresh or dried), uncover and gently simmer until dal is thickish, about another 10 minutes
  4. For the tarka, fry the cumin seeds and onion in oil until onion is golden brown
  5. Pour on dal and serve with rice

Tip: You can use green lentils or Puy lentils instead of brown lentils in this recipe

While the lentils are cooking, get going with the butternut squash…………..



1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin powder
3-4 tablespoons oil (any cooking oil or olive oil enough to coat the squash)
Sea salt


  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl
  2. Put in pre-heated oven at 200C, 400F or gas mark 6 for 20-25 minutes until squash is cooked

Lentils simmering, squash in the oven, time to put the rice on



300 grams Basmati rice, soaked for 1 hour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil


  1. Wash and rinse rice in a large deep saucepan (always use a large pan for rice)
  2. Add water and salt – the water should stand at least 2 or more inches above the level of the rice (cooking rice is  like cooking pasta; always boil in lots of water and that way it won’t stick)
  3. Bring to boil on high heat. Stir and lower heat to medium and let the rice cook for about 3-4 minutes. You will need to stand by and check the rice – there are many different varieties and qualities of Basmati rice and the cooking time will vary a little.
  4. When the rice is al dente, almost cooked but has a tiny bit of bite to it, strain it in a colander
  5. In the saucepan, put 3 tablespoons of water (basically a small splash – you won’t need to measure once you’ve done it a few times!) and 2 tablespoons of oil. Put the rice back in the colander.
  6. Cover the lid with a clean teacloth or napkin and place tightly on saucepan.
  7. On lowest heat or if you have one, using a heat diffuser/simmer ring (that’s what I use and couldn’t do without – you can buy it from Amazon and it costs very little – very useful for all food which requires very low heat) steam rice for 15 minutes. Bear in mind that this is on the lowest heat setting on the hob, do check after 10 minutes by carefully lifting the lid and if steam is pours out, the rice should be done



Cooking pulses


Just a quick tip I learnt from my ole nan Laxmi – add quarter teaspoon of baking soda to beans or stubborn lentils, like chana dal, and it cooks in half the time!  Not old wives’ tale – does work!  Word of caution – don’t use too much baking soda as the taste will come through and that’s not very nice.   If possible cook the beans or pulses and strain before adding spices and herbs as this gets rid of any after taste of the soda.   Remember to always soak beans for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.



Yellow Mung dal

Mung dal(2)

Yellow mung or moong dal is mung bean which has been split and the skin removed. It is easy to digest, cooks very quickly and doesn’t need to be soaked.  It has a creamy, earthy flavour.  Not always available in supermarkets in the UK but you can buy it easily in all Asian stores.  It is best garnished with fried onions which complement the mild flavour of the mung dal.

Yellow mung (or moong) dal

1 cup mung dal
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1½ inch piece ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, grated

2 tablespoons oil 1 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 dried red chilli (optional)


  1. Wash dal and add turmeric, ginger and garlic.
  2. Bring to with 3 cups of water. Cook on low heat and don’t cover completely or it will boil over
  3. When dal is soft and mushy add salt and cook until it is the right consistency – some people like it thicker than others so it is a matter of preference!


  1. Heat the oil and add chilli
  2. Give it 10-15 seconds, take off heat and add cumin seeds followed by the onions
  3. Fry gently until onions are golden and pour tarka on dal.

I couldn’t resist popping in the glowing red chilli I had just bought!


Dal with cherry tomatoes

Not everyone will agree, but I think the ubiquitous Masoor dal (aka orange lentil) must be at the top of the menu in most households in India and Pakistan; it certainly was in ours!  Not only because it is so delicious and loved by young and old alike, it is also very easy to cook and takes less than half the time it takes chana dal.  I will be posting some more recipes using my favourite masoor dal to include vegetables, specially spinach and even soy chunks…. so watch this space for more if you are a dal fan.

4 servings


1 cup orange lentils, I don’t bother soaking this as it cooks easily!
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
1 – 1½ inch piece ginger, grated
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder (or less if you prefer)
3 cups water

For tarka/garnish

8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 whole dried chillies
1 large clove garlic, finely sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed with pestle or rolling pin
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
A few curry leaves/karhi patta (no worries if you don’t have it although it does add an unique flavour)
2 tablespoons oil


  1. Wash the lentils and add 3 cups water, garlic, ginger, turmeric and chilli powder (add salt after the lentils are cooked)
  2. Bring to boil and simmer on low heat, partly covered as it is quick to boil over, until lentils are soft and mushy
  3. Add salt and mash with potato masher – this will purée some of the lentils and thicken the dal – if the dal is too runny cook uncovered to thicken. 

Note: The consistency of the dal varies from house to house and is a matter of personal preference.


  1. Quickly fry the cherry tomatoes in 1 tablespoon oil – about 1 minute so they don’t lose their shape
  2. Add to dal (take dal off the heat)
  3. Give the frying pan a quick rinse and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, add dry chillies, give it about 30 seconds and add garlic.
  4. As soon as the garlic turns light brown, add cumin seeds, coriander seeds and curry leaves –give it another 20 seconds, don’t let the cumin burn.
  5. Pour on dal and serve with steamed rice or quinoa

Mung dal with turnip & dill

Mung with turnip

Hello friends!

Today I decided to prepare this unusual combination of lentil and vegetable which most people may not be familiar with.  I remember my mother-in-law used to make it and over the years I have tried to mimic her but I don’t think it is ever as good!  As this was something only she prepared and my mother didn’t, we really looked forward to it.  Sometimes she would make it and send it over to us.  She was very aware of the Ayurvedic properties of food and mung bean is cooling so of course this was a summer dish.

There are many different sorts of lentils and taste surprisingly different with the skin on – so the orange lentil without the skin is nothing like the same lentil with the skin on.  Mung bean with the skin in this recipe tastes completely different and bears no similarity with the skinless yellow mung bean – see my recipe for yellow mung dal.

Lentils are loaded with vitamins, minerals and are a good source of protein and all this with no carbohydrates.  Lentils are usually cooked with very simple spices; my usual spices are turmeric, garlic, ginger and chillies (optional).  What makes dal different to say lentil soup, is the all important tarka (garnish).  Tarka is the crowning glory of all lentil dishes and is a must!

The mixture of spices used for tarka are traditionally set in stone in every household.  So if you wish to use fried onions on a particular dal which is traditionally garnished with garlic and cumin, then you’re in trouble.  But we are here to break the rules and experiment and not always do as our mothers did….. and if you make a judgement based on your culinary intuition, you will rarely go wrong.  And if you do, well that’s a lesson learnt!  So do give this a go and if you absolutely detest turnips, no worries, bung in a carrot or even marrow or pumpkin (if using marrow or pumpkin add towards the end as mushy marrow or pumpkin are not very palatable).   As a matter of fact there is a dal we make using orange lentil and add largish pieces of marrow in the last 20 minutes – I will post this recipe too in due course.

I hope you enjoy this recipe – dal and beans provide us with an excellent range of nutrients and are very versatile once you know how to use them.  Please let me know how you get on in the comments box.


1 cup split mung beans with skin
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch piece ginger, grated
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder (or less)
2 turnips, cut into small pieces
½ cup fresh dill (frozen is fine too)

2-3 dried whole red chillies
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons oil


  1. Soak mung beans for about an hour
  2. Rinse the dal and add garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli powder and salt
  3. Add 4 cups of water and cook for 40-45 minutes until cooked and dal is soft
  4. Add turnips and dill and cook for a further 20-25 minutes until turnips are tender


  1. Heat the oil and add whole chillies
  2. Give the chillies 30 seconds and add cumin seeds
  3. Another 30 seconds and add onions and garlic; fry till golden brown
  4. Pour piping hot garnish on the mung beans and serve with rice