In Eastern Europe, it is a tradition at New Year to have these whole lentil dishes. I add a little more spice than my mother-in-law’s original recipe calls for, but the extra oomph really works. The green discs of lentils represent little coins and a wish for wealth in the year ahead. This is a wonderful centrepiece to a meal, regardless of your guest’s needs, as it is both gluten-free and vegan, as well as filling and delicious.
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 cube frozen crushed garlic or 3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cubes frozen crushed ginger or 2 thumb-sized pieces fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 bay leaf
1 fat green chilli, sliced
800g /1lb 12oz canned green lentils, drained
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
400g/14oz canned chopped tomatoes
11⁄2 tsp salt
small handful fresh coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped
1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add the cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds, until they are fragrant and have turned a deep golden brown. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, bay leaf and sliced chilli, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until the onions are soft and golden.
2. Add the lentils, ground turmeric, garam masala, ground cumin and chopped tomatoes to the pan and stir to combine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a lively simmer and cook for 20 minutes, adding a splash of water if the mixture gets too dry, until the lentils are tender. Add the salt to the pan to taste, then stir through the chopped fresh coriander/ cilantro. Serve hot and enjoy!