The cold weather makes me want to hoover everything edible in my path, in particular temperature raising foods like slow-cooked meat casseroles so rich and savoury they leave your lips sticky, hearty soups, golden-roasted root vegetables seasoned with crunchy flakes of salt and espelette, spicy Indian curry with roti, pomme puree, thick slices of warm toast with soft and creamy scrambled eggs, cups of hot chocolate that leave you a Marx-ian moustache everytime you take a sip, freshly steamed sticky date pudding and the list continues.
This time last year, all I wanted to eat for every meal was macaroni and cheese! I made several variations of the dish, each time, using a different type of pasta and cheese. My favourite version was one I made with a smoked aged cheddar and casareccia which I ate with a piquant tomato chutney and a bitter salad on the side. Sometimes the marvellously simple dishes are the ones that deliver absolute pleasure in the eating, wouldn't you agree?
Before I share the recipe I made today, I would like to dispel any implication that my obsession for including a little bit of "summer" in my dishes is a reflection of any detestation for this cold weather. I love winter as much as I do summer and autum, but maybe less than spring, but I am sure that this is understandable. Winter has its charm, its character and its own moments -- like how the air smells "forest fresh" after an overnight shower, and how the grass looks greener and brighter with the early morning sun breaking through the blanket of mist. When else would you draw more pleasure and comfort from watching steam rise out of your coffee cup than on those crisp cold winter mornings?
So here it is, today's soup incited by traditional Indian dahl served with bread or rice, it is prepared in a short time and is absolutely loaded with taste. I included curry powder, fresh grated ginger and garlic which add a gentle spiciness to the soup and a few kaffir lime leaves for citrus tones without the sharp acidity. I simply adore citrus in soups! I then finished the soup with some light coconut cream and roughly chopped mango flesh. Served with some pappadums, this soup is so satisfyingly flavourful it left me wanting nothing more but a second helping!
Curried red lentil and mango soup
2 medium onions, finely diced
3 small-medium sized waxy potatoes, diced
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
piece of ginger, grated (i used one the size of my thumb)
3-4 kaffir lime leaves
1 1/2 cups red lentils
2 tsp curry powder (i used a mild one)
3-4 small ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (or use a tin of chopped tomatoes)
1 tin of mango in natural juice, roughly chopped
1 small tin of light/regular coconut cream
(generously serves 6 hungry adults)
sweat onions with a couple of tablespoons of vege oil in a medium sized heavy based pot until soft but not brown. This will take about 4 minutes over medium low heat
add curry powder, chilli, garlic and ginger to the onions and cook until your kitchen is filled with spicy fragrance
stir in the diced potatoes and lentils to coat with the
cook for 2 minutes, stirring the whole time so the mixture doesn't catch on the bottom of the pot and add a teaspoon of salt
add 500ml (about 2 cups) water and bring to a boil
add the kaffir lime leaves, chopped tomatoes and the juices from the tinned mangoes
gently simmer until the lentils and potatoes are tender (you may have to add another cup of water to adjust the consistency at this point)
**you may at this point remove the kaffir lime leaves and blend the soup to achieve a smooth consistency**
finish with coconut cream and chopped mango
season with salt and pepper to taste