Almost too simple to be relevantly complex – but it does have one secret ingredient…

Two tablespoons of oil in a medium sized saucepan, one medium-sized onion (quartered and sliced, not diced) gently fried on a moderate heat for 5 mins. Half a teaspoon each of ground cumin and ground coriander; fry for 5-10 minutes more until browned, even blackened in a few places.

Chuck in c125g of washed red lentils, stir. Pour in 250ml of water, and…

500ml of the leftover liquid you’ve saved from boiling a ham.

Ham stock is the ‘relevant complexity’ here. A ham boiled in a pan or slow cooker with onion, celery, bay leaf, carrot and a few peppercorns and cloves produces meaty, salty stock which makes a fantastic minestrone; and I discovered (by taking a punt this Christmas) an amazing lentil curry soup.

So amazing in fact, I made it again today. A decent chicken stock cube could probably replace it. But ham stock makes is both totally incorrect from an Indian cookery perspective, and totally delicious.

Give it a try, it’s something else.


‘Relevant complexity’ is always best shared, so if you have any comments, suggestions or recommendations: book, spirit, sport, recipe, film, painting, poem, philosopher – share away in the comments box below…

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