This soup turned out to be surprisingly light and refreshing. The fact that I skipped out on adding any oil probably helped. I've been making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of oil I use in my cooking recently, but I've found it to be surprisingly difficult. I could be halfway through making a dish and this inexplicable (almost irrational) urge to add an unnecessary drop or two of oil suddenly emerges.
Now, I'm not totally anti-oil or anything - a little goes a long way in binding flavours together and giving dishes that extra 'je ne sais quoi', but sometimes you just feel like pulling back a little, you know? And I happen to feel that way this week. Except, there's a bit of a disconnect somewhere. The act of adding oil to nearly everything is somehow so engrained that I find myself reaching for it before my brain even has time to process what I'm about to do.
Oil is pretty central to Nigerian cuisine. If we're not deep-frying our snacks (puff puff, chin-chin, plantain chips...need I go on?), we're giving our stews and soups a glazed sheen with the stuff. This always makes for incredibly yummy food, but it's probably not something you want to have every day if you're trying to develop a healthy lifestyle. With that in mind, don't be too surprised if I stray into alternative, oil-free cooking methods in future recipes.
Thankfully, lentils are extremely flavourful and the spices I used provide an additional lift. This is great for lunch or dinner and will leave you feeling full without the added calories.
- 2 cups red lentils
- 4 cups water or vegetable stock
- 1 grated carrot (optional)
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer for 20-25 minutes (until the lentils are soft). I didn't use the grated carrot this time but it occurred to me afterwards that it would work great in this dish, not to mention giving it an extra nutrition boost. If you have other vegetables at home, feel free to add them too.
Serve hot or warm with a slice or two of wholegrain/seeded bread.