Ben Laurie blathering

Chicken and Lentils

chicken thighs/drumsticks/whatever – skin on
green lentils (I doubt it matters much, but this is what I used)
cardamom pods
dried red chillies
diced ginger
sliced onion
chicken stock
tinned tomatoes

Grind the spices (I use a coffee grinder, but pestle and mortar is fine). Fry with the ginger in whatever oil takes your fancy (or even ghee) for a minute or so, then add the chicken pieces. Fry pretty vigorously until nicely browned, but try not to burn the spices. I try to have enough spice so the chicken all gets nicely coated and there’s some left over for the next stage…

Once the chicken is browned (but not cooked through), set aside, leaving whatever oil and spices aren’t sticking to them in the pan. Add the onions and fry until clear, then add the lentils and some water.

Some, but not all, lentils need to be cooked carefully (they contain an enzyme that ain’t so good for you) so make sure you incorporate the cooking instructions into this recipe. The green lentils I used don’t need soaking (in fact, in my experience you can generally substitute more boiling for soaking anyway), but they do need boiling hard for ten minutes, so … do that now.

Once any hard cooking needed by the lentils is over, return the chicken to the pan, add the tinned tomatoes and chicken stock – smash the tomatoes up, bring to the boil, then simmer until the lentils are done (varies according to type). Note that lentils can soak up a lot of water, so stir occasionally and add more if needed. Season to taste and serve with rice and whatever.

I expect a raita would be nice with this.

I don’t usually do quantities, but since I was asked nicely, here’s some guidance: for eight chicken thighs (enough for four people, if they’re not too greedy) I used around 200g of lentils, one tin of tomatoes and probably around a third of a cup (or more) of spices, after they’d been ground. Mostly cumin and coriander. I know it sounds like a lot, but you need a lot – and its hard to overdo them. Stock should be enough to cook the lentils, bearing in mind the liquid from the tomatoes – the aim is for a thick lentil sauce, not a soup.

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