This is a dish I prepare when I am at home alone, when my husband is working long hours. This was also my go-to dish when I was a single girl- I would let the lentils simmer for 30 mins, while I sat on my bed, after work, catching up on Harper's Bazaar or that book that I just couldn't put down. Or just puttering about. This is a pantry-friendly recipe for me, I always have these items on hand. This lentil soup is very healthy, there is no oil; for some reason, when the two lentils meld together, they produce a buttery taste. Alchemy. The most important thing in this soup is to get the ratios right- which I have described in the recipe below. Red lentils are easily available; the mung lentils (make sure they are of the yellow variety, without husk/skin) are readily found in all Pakistani/Indian grocery stores. All I do before I tuck into it, is: add dollops of yoghurt, diced tomato, and coriander leaves. And if you're like me, set your table for one, and eat there with your best linen and cutlery. So what if you're eating alone, right? And don't forget that glass of Falanghina or Vermentino. —shayma
1 with leftovers for the next day
teacup red lentils (Lens culinaris)
teacup yellow mung lentils (the variety with husk/skin removed), found in Pakistani/Indian grocery stores.
In this recipe, the ratios are most important. I use a small teacup to prepare mine, you can use the American cups measurement, as long as you use the same proportions. My teacup is approximately 2/3 of an American cup measurement. For my recipe, the ratio of red lentils to mung lentils should always be 3:1, with the salt and cayenne pepper adjusted according to the amount you decide to make.
Plonk into a medium-sized heavy bottom pan, (mine is 8in): lentils, salt, haldi, cayenne pepper, garlic clove, tomato sauce (if you dont have the tomato sauce/passata/diced tomatoes, don't worry about opening a brand new can, you can omit it, you won't be compromising on the taste of the end result) and boiling water.
Place it on a low-medium flame, cover with lid, but not completely, so as to allow some steam to escape, otherwise the lentils will overflow- you don't want a yellow protein mess on your stovetop- take my word for it! ;-)
Let it simmer for 30 minutes. You will see that the two breeds of lentils will finally become a velvety puree, indistinguishable from each other; this means it is ready. Smoosh the garlic clove with the back of your ladle, it will blend right in.
Drizzle with yoghurt, add some diced tomatoes (optional) and coriander/cilantro leaves (optional).
Open a bottle of Falanghina or Vermentino. And if you're like me, set your table for one, and eat there with your best linen and cutlery, so what if you're eating alone, right?
Shayma Saadat is a cookery teacher, food writer, stylist and photographer who focuses on the food of her heritage - Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, which she refers to as Silk Route cuisine. Shayma lives in Toronto with her husband and son. You can follow her culinary journey on Instagram @SpiceSpoon.