This is an easy-to-make curry that relies on handling the spices carefully to get the right balance into the curry. Tasmanian green lentils are the perfect vehicle for the flavours for this dish.
These are grown by The Grain Family in Moltema on Tasmania’s North-West coast not too far from Deloraine. Here they grow a variety of grains including spelt, rye, wheat and oats plus the French-style green lentils. All are grown using organic practices.
1 cup green lentils
1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500 ml water
5 small dried chillies
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 stick cinnamon
10 cardamom pods with the outer shell discarded to use only the inner “seeds”
2 star anise
2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds soaked in water for 4 hours
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
20 grams of dried tamarind
20 cloves of black pepper
You are now ready to prepare the ingredients for making the curry.
- Place all the spices except for the tamarind and the fenugreek in a small frypan and place them over a gentle heat for about five minutes until you can feel that they are warm. Then keep roasting them gently for about two further minutes.
- Place them in a spice grinder or a food processor and grind them until they form a coarse powder.
- In a mortar smash the fenugreek seeds until they form a paste.
- Pour boiling water over the tamarind and press down on it with the back of a spoon to help it dissolve into the water.
- Select a large saucepan such as a Le Creuset and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil gently then add the finely chopped onion. Fry gently without browning the onion until it is translucent.
- When the onion is cooked add the garlic and stir carefully while it is cooking.
- When the garlic is cooked add the ground spices and fry them gently without burning them.
- Add the fenugreek and pour the tamarind liquid in through a sieve to catch all the unwanted solids.
- Stir the contents to combine, then add the lentils and stir again to coat them with the spice mixture.
- Now add the water and adjust the heat to bring contents to a very gently simmer. Add more water if it appears too dry.
- Simmer until the lentils are still somewhat firm – you don’t want them to turn to mush.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and allow to cool. This helps to incorporate the flavours.
- About thirty minutes before you want to serve this dish reheat it gently adding more liquid if necessary. For a special treat we sometimes like to add one centimetre squares of white fish about ten minutes before serving so that they are just cooked through.