For this divine Wintery lentil stew, an earthy, dark lentil is called for. Puy lentils are a common choice, and the dark Beluga is excellent. I also love to make it with either Horse Gram or Matki lentils – brown, earthy and delicious lentils that you can get from your Indian shop. How good these are.
Despite the very familiar ingredients, the result is a bit magic and unexpected. It is an O. M. G. dish. The texture of the lentils with the silkiness of the eggplant. The pop of the tomato flavour, the way the sour cream enhances the dish, the heat of the chilli and the Greekness of the oregano.
Serve as it is, for a light meal, or bulk it up by spooning on top of rice, on slices of grilled or toasted sourdough. You can serve the stew either as a hearty starter or a side, or as a main served with any grain you like. It can be made up to three days ahead and kept in the fridge–just warm through then add the creme fraiche, oil, chilli flakes and oregano before serving. It’s at its best served warm, but is also very good at room temperature.
This is an Ottolenghi recipe – or at least it was until I, naturally, played with it a little. The key change was in the lentil used, but if you like you can check the original recipe. We always feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area, or to massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.
Similar recipes include Horse Gram and Pomegranate Salad, Puy Lentils with Sage and Roasted Pumpkin, Beluga Lentil Salad with Pomegranate Molasses, Citrusy Beetroot with Puy Lentils, and Horse Gram Dal.
Read more about Horse Gram (aks Kulthi Bean). It is easily purchased in Indian shops.