Tag Archive for Pulses

Spanish lentil stew

This is the perfect recipe for a hearty, earthy lentil stew. Originally, it called for pardina lentils and serrano ham, but I adapted it to ingredients that are similar and better available: Puy lentils and bacon. This dish is not as heavy as some winter dishes, so can be served perfectly in summer as well. It tastes good on its own, or as a side-dish to all kinds of game (rabbit, quail, partridge, etc). It may seem that there is a lot of garlic in this dish, but the slow cooking gives it a lovely mellow, warm taste. The smoked paprika is available in specialist spice shops or at the spice stand on markets, I haven’t seen it yet in supermarkets. Make sure you store it air-tight, it does have a pungent smell.

Lentil Stew

Spanish lentil stew (serves 6)
Adapted from Spain – Rick Stein

225 g Puy lentils
6 tbsp olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
200 g carrot, finely chopped
100 g bacon in small lardons
1 tbsp pimenton dulce (smoked sweet Spanish paprika)
2 large, ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped
120 ml dry white wine
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
Optional: bay leaves

Rinse the lentils in cold water, put them in a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until just tender (check regularly, my lentils cooked a lot quicker and you don’t want to end up with lentil soup!). Drain but reserve the cooking liquid.
Put the olive oil, garlic, onion and carrot in a wide, shallow pan over medium heat and cook gently for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and just beginning to colour. Add the bacon and fry for another 5 minutes (if you like crisp bacon, fry it in a separate pan and add back into the vegetables).
Stir in the pimenton, tomatoes and wine and simmer for 5 minutes or until they have reduced and thickened into a sauce. Stir the lentils into the sauce with 150 ml of the reserved cooking liquid, the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer together for 5 minutes, then serve.

Moroccan chicken

For some reason there is not much to find about Arabic food, or at least not in the places I check out regularly. Chicken tajine is the most often mentioned dish, but most of the time I don’t like the recipes because they are often very plain or sickly sweet. But this recipe isn’t! It has a nice balance between the spices and the sweetness and is nice and savoury. With the tajine I served naan (because I had it left, but it is really a nice accompaniment), couscous and some broad beans and mangetouts. The dish is not that rich in vegetables so to have some as a side-dish is a good idea.

Moroccan Chicken

I don’t like broad beans at all, usually they are tough, fibery, bitter and to make them edible you need to pod them double: first the outer shell and then the whitish layer around the beans. But the broad beans from my allotment are lovely! Removing the outer pods does takes some time, but it is really worth it. Because we don’t let them get too big, the whitish layer around is not tough at all and they taste so incredibly fresh! It is important not to overcook them, put them in a pan with a small layer of water, bring to the boil and drain immediately, or throw in a frying pan with some butter or olive oil, for 30 seconds. Dress with some butter or olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Lovely!

Broad Beans

Moroccan chicken with apricots, almonds and chickpeas (2 servings + some leftovers)
Slightly adapted from The Kitchn

2 chicken legs
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb piece ginger root, minced
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chicken stock (or 1 stock cube + 1 cup of water)
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Accompaniments: naan bread, couscous (cooked with stock and fluffed with a bit of butter), broad beans

Heat some oil in a large pan and place the chicken legs in there. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sear until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Sauté the onions and carrots with some salt until soft and slightly caramelized, then add the garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin and cinnamon. Add the stock, scrape the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the apricots, bring everything to the boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat and stew for about an hour.
Take out the chicken. Add the honey, almonds and chickpeas to the pan and mix with the veggies and apricots. Increase the heat, bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until thickened slightly. Check for seasoning, add some salt and/or pepper when necessary. Serve the chicken and the sauce with accompaniments.


Cassoulet is a classic, hearty and warming dish, a regional speciality of the Languedoc (France) consisting of meat and white beans. Its more autumn/winter than summer food, but when I cooked it, the weather was definitely not summery and I could use something warming. Lets hope that at the moment of posting this, its more like summer than it is now.

Classical cassoulet is very serious business, there are important requirements for cooking cassoulet. There are three French towns that claim to have the original recipe: Castelnaudary makes it with confit d’oie (goose), pork shoulder, sausage and pork rind; Carcassonne with partridge and lamb; Toulouse with confit de canard (duck) and Toulouse sausage. Cassoulet is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides, which of course is the only vessel to make cassoulet in. The origin of the beans and the water that is used, is very important as well, as is the cooking method (in a wood food fired oven, with specific wood).

And of course I made my own version of cassoulet. I used some soup pieces of chicken to make my own stock fresh and tasty stock, and used a lot of that to reduce down while cooking the beans in it. I also used borlotti beans instead of white beans. And I added some bacon, to give de stew a more hearty and savoury flavour.

Often beans from a tin are quite mushy and slimy, and of course they are already completely cooked, so you cannot let them stew any more. So I used dried bean for this dish, which was a first for me. Actually it worked really well, you do need to soak them, but once you put them in the water you don’t have to do anything but wait. The most notable was that the beans were much more firm than tinned beans, even when cooked through/stewed for a long time. It gave the dish a lot more texture, and a more filling feeling.

Oh, and if you’re making this, which you certainly should do, make a bit more: it keeps well and the flavours will be even better the next day.


Cassoulet (2-4 persons)

1 kg soup chicken (bone-in, whole or pieces)
1 onion, unpeeled, big chunks
3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled, crushed
3 carrots, big chunks
4 stalks of celery, big chunks
1 leek, washed, big chunks
1 tsp pepper corns
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
3L water

250 g beans (white or borlotti), soaked overnight (8-12 hours) in cold water, and drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves of garlic, minced finely
100g bacon, in lardons
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
5 cloves
the bouillon
the soup chicken, flaked in pieces; bones, skin and sinews discarded
salt and pepper
good extra vergine olive oil

Start with making the bouillon. Put all the ingredients in a big pot an put on a very low heat. Leave it there for at least 4 hours, to infuse all the flavours into the water. Leave to cool for at least an hour with the chicken still in there, to keep it nice and moist. Take out the chicken, flake it into pieces, discard bones, skin and sinewy bits. Pour the bouillon through a sieve, pushing out the liquid from the vegetables (but not so much that you press through vegetable mash). Set aside 1/3 of the bouillon for other purposes (risotto!). Don’t add salt at this moment, that will make the skins of the beans tough when cooking the cassoulet.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven (or other suitable stewing pan). Add the onion, fry until translucent. Add the bacon, fry a bit more. Then add the beans and garlic (in this way it will not burn), toast for a while. Then add a couple of ladles full of bouillon, the bay leaves, cloves and thyme, and let it bubble away. Check the cooking time of your beans, mine was 1-1,5 hours. Let the bouillon evaporate, but don’t let the beans get dry! So every 15 minutes or so, add a couple ladles of bouillon again. After 1,5 hours this will make a lovely full-bodied sauce and your beans will be nice and tender. Add in the chicken and heat it through, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, drizzled with good olive oil (some chopped parsley would be nice as well) and accompany with a nice red wine. Cassoulet is a meal on its own, but if you want, you can accompany it with some nice crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Roasted chickpeas and broad beans

A while ago roasted chickpeas were a big hit on foodgawker. I never really warmed up to them, I’m not much of a bean person and I did not think that roasting them would change that. Until I tasted roasted broad beans at a friends home. They are delicious! They are nice and crunchy, tasty and not bean-like at all. I found out that you can buy them in many different kinds of pulses and seasonings at the Asian supermarket, but what these had in common was their high fat content. And since almost every-one uses these roasted pulses as a healthier/less fatty/less calorie rich substitute for nuts and other snacks, really fatty ones sort of miss the point. So I tried to make them myself, which turned out really well. It is very easy, it just takes a while. Do make sure to keep an eye on them! The window between nice and crisp, and burned is not very big. Tasting is the easiest way to find out if they are ready, but leave a bean to cool first, they do crisp up quite a bit when they cool. I am not sure how well they keep, when I make these they tend to vanish before I can try…

Roasted chickpeas
1 can of cooked chickpeas (or broad beans)
1 tbsp oil (I used vegetable)

Preheat the oven at 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Rinse and dry the chickpeas well. Toss with the oil and spread them in a single layer onto the baking tray. Bake for about 30-45 minutes or until crisp. Check and stir them every 15 minutes. Toss with spices, cool and serve. Some people cover with spices before cooking.

Spice suggestions:
– salt (I usually also add salt when using other spices)
– salt and pepper
– cajun herbs
– garam masala
– ras el hanout
– chili-lime
– (smoked) paprika
– rosemary
– garlic
– honey and cinnamon
– ….
Рanything you can think of! 

Rice with mince, beans and cheese

Really nice comfort food that is fast to cook. Especially nice for those days that everything goes wrong or when you drowned in the rain while biking home. The vegetables and proteins make you feel better by their healthy-ness and the warm comforting flavours of the spices will warm your heart. Cheese is an essential part of this dish, so don’t leave it out!

Rice with mince, beans and cheese (2 generous servings)

300 gram mince (half and half beef/pork)
cooked rice
vegetable oil
1 can kidney beans
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 paprika, cubed
1/3 courgette, half moons
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sambal badjak
splash of soy sauce
1 stock cube (beef)
1/4 tsp bay powder
1/2 tsp paprika powder
black pepper

Heat a pan on medium heat with some vegetable oil. Add the cumin and sambal, mix. Add the onion and garlic, cook on low heat until soft. Add the mince, bake on high heat. Add soy sauce, stock cube, bay powder, paprika powder and black pepper. Add the paprika, cook on high heat. Add the beans and courgette, bake until everything is cooked. Take care not to drown the dish, cook it on high heat to cook of all the liquid that comes from the mince and the vegetables.
Add the rice, fry shortly, put some thin slices of cheese on top and stir them through. In this way you will get nice pockets of melted cheese in the dish.

Lentil soup

I have been a very lazy cook for a while… Usually that involves the less healthy choices, since not thinking about what you will eat for diner the whole day and than shopping for groceries while you still don’t know what to eat while you are already hungry is just not a very good plan. But, today I decided to cook and eat something healthy, and it was very easy and tasty as well. So plans for the future: plan diner when not hungry, then shop with grocery list and only buy what’s on the list. See how long I can stick to this…
Then, the dish. I combined the many recipes (Arabic/Moroccan) I found online for lentil soup into something I liked. It is very important to use quite strong and spicy flavours, since lentils tend to be a bit bland. The spice mix I used succeeded in this, but was still very delicate.
I like my soups nice and smooth, so I blended everything after cooking and then sieved it, pushing every bit of moisture and taste from the sieve, but preventing all the tough bits to be in my soup. This step is not necessary, you can just blend everything, or even let it chunky or mush it a bit with a masher. To give the whole a bit texture, I added some cooked quinoa to the soup.
I also added some leftover chicken from yesterday, but leaving the soup vegetarian is a very good possibility (then switch the chicken stock cube for a vegetable stock cube). I also served some raita and naan (but mine came from the shop) with the soup. But just the soup and no add-ons works also perfect.

Lentil soup (2 big bowls)

1 cup yellow lentils (use a coffee mug if you don’t have cup measuring cups)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp nigella seeds
1/4 tsp ground coriander (ketoembar)
1/4 tsp kurkuma
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
3-4 cups vegetable stock (depending on the preferred consistency)
juice of half a lemon
fresh coriander (optional)

Rinse the lentils, then soak them. The longer you soak them, the more moisture they take up and the thinner your soup will be. I soaked my lentils for about an hour, since I did not have much time.
Slowly cook the onion, carrot and celery, until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic, cook for a bit more. Add the tomato, bay leaves, lentils and stock, bring to the boil. Meanwhile, roast the seeds in a dry frying pan and add them with the other spices to the soup. Cook the soup for about 30 minutes, till the lentils are tender. Blend (don’t forget to take out the bay leaves!), and if you want, sieve. Taste, add the lemon juice, salt if necessary and pepper/chilli powder if necessary. Garnish with fresh coriander (if using).