Moroccan spiced lentils

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Moroccan spiced lentils are nice, warm and hearty dish which smell and taste will teleport you straight to the north of the Africa. Most broad-bean soup sellers also offer these spicy lentils, ladled into bowls. When cooking green (also called brown) lentils, it is tempting to drainthem after the first stage of cooking as the liquid is muddy, but in doing so, precious B vitamins are lost. Lentils are so versatile, cheap and delicious. Try them in a healthy soup, in Indian dal, or to add extra texture to a pumpkin stew or rice dish.  Lentils do not need soaking before cooking. Some will hold their shape well when cooked; others will collapse once cooked, so you need to decide what kind of recipe you are using the lentils for. Lentils are high in protein and therefore a valuable part of a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Ingredients:

375 g green lentils

2 large ripe tomatoes

3 tbsp olive oil

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander seeds

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp paprika

½tsp cayenne pepper

1 red capiscum pepper, cleaned and chopped

2 tsp tomato paste (concentrated purée)

3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves

Spiced lentil soup

Preparation:

Pick over the lentils and place in a bowl. Wash with 2 – 3 changes of cold water, then drain in a strainer. Tip into a large saucepan and add 1 litre water. bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, skimming the surface as required.

While lentils are cooking, halve the tomatoes crossways and squeeze out seeds. Using the shredder side of a grater, grate tomato halves down to the skin, discarding the skin. Set aside.

Warm oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft. Stir in garlic and spices and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add capiscum, grated tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley and coriander and 250 ml water. Combine well, then add to the well-skimmed lentils. Season, partly cover with lid and cook on low-medium heat for a further 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Serve hot in bowls.