Special Dish for the Week: Red Lentil Dhal with Smoked Paprika Eggplant

I am feeling the need for a more earthly connection, and decide for this week’s Special Dish for the Week a combination of legumes, nightshade, and a lot of earthy spice in:

Red Lentil Dhal with Smoked Paprika Eggplant

Red Lentil Dhal with Smoked Paprika Eggplant

Red Lentil Dhal with Smoked Paprika Eggplant

Using much of a recipe as a base, I naturally innovate. The base of the red lentil dhal are of course red lentils; I use organic. And I add some organic canned chickpeas for some added protein.

To begin preparing the spices, I lightly heat some cumin seeds and mustard seeds in some olive oil. Next, I introduce some chopped onion and the stems of cilantro. Then I add some grated ginger and garlicred Thai chili pepperscumin powderturmeric and black pepper, and some chili powder. To finish off the spices, I add some cinnamon, which goes very well with raisins, so I add a bit of those too.

To this spicy paste, I bring some organic vegetable stock, a few chopped tomatoes, and begin cooking the rinsed red lentils and chickpeas. Before these finish cooking, I squirt the juice of half a lime and add some chopped cilantro.

The smoked paprika eggplant is super easy, and not too involved. I thinly slice the eggplant, and lightly fry the slices in a little bit of cold pressed virgin olive oil. I make a glaze of smoked paprika powder and water, and use a brush to apply a thin layer to each softened eggplant slice.

Red Lentil Dhal with Smoked Paprika Eggplant Dish

Red Lentil Dhal with Smoked Paprika Eggplant Dish

I serve the dish on a bed of brown jasmine rice, spreading out a couple slices of smoked paprika eggplant, and layering the red lentil dhal. One-eighth lime, a dollop of organic Greek yogurt, and chopped cilantro finish off this dish.

From my Santé, machine à manger wine glass, I sip a French Côtes du Rhône, which makes me feel close to my good friend who sent me the glass as a present. I surround myself with light from a beeswax candle I bought from my honey lady at the farmers market back in the Fall, and with a beautifully crafted ceramic clay bowl that another good friend made me for my birthday. My meal sits atop an authentic Provençal place mat, and I dab my lips with a matching serviette, gifted to me by another good friend. Though I dine alone, I feel the love of others around me.

Meal ideas & recipes from Maria Elia’s “The Modern Vegetarian” book from a good friend.

Special Dish for the Week: Shrimp and Peppers Stir-Fry with Lentils

Another Thai-French-Indian fusion dish, whipped up relatively quickly on another busy weekend, but saving me time while keeping me eating healthy for lunches during the week:

Shrimp and Peppers Stir-Fry with Lentils

Shrimp and Peppers Stir-Fry with Lentils

Shrimp and Peppers Stir-Fry with Lentils

Sautéeing sliced onions and chopped cilantro stems in coconut oil and with Thai green curry paste, I prepare in a stove top pot: a cup of red lentils and in my rice cooker: Jasmin brown rice with cinnamon. As all these simmer, I julenne my red and green peppers, and I defrost my pre-cooked frozen shrimp. I also chop a generous amount of fresh cilantro leaves for the eventual topping of this dish.

Shrimp and Peppers Stir-Fry with Lentils Dish

Shrimp and Peppers Stir-Fry with Lentils Dish

Once softened and translucent, the onion mixture receives the peppers and a sprinkling of herbes de Provence for further sautéeing. I season the stir-fry with some black pepper and Bragg soy sauce. When all parts are nearly ready, I add the shrimp to the onions and peppers to warm them through but not to overcook them. I layer the dish with rice, red lentils, and stir-fry, topping it off with the chopped cilantro leaves and black sesame seeds.

I serve it by candlelight, with the last of my French rosé, marveling once more at the combination of flavours and textures.

Special Dish for the Week: French-Thai-Indian Fusion Ratatouille

It turned out to be a delicious and flavour-bursting dish that I would like to make again sometime—if only I had had the time at the time to post it right away, thus recording accurately all the ingredients I added to make this dish so memorable—so, alas, I must rely on my unreliable memory of the tastes and on my pictures of the visuals for this version of a favourite dish of mine, previously in its more authentic form as Ratatouille Provençale:

French-Thai-Indian Fusion Ratatouille

French-Thai-Indian Fusion Ratatouille Dish

French-Thai-Indian Fusion Ratatouille Dish

On a base of Thai coconut oil and Thai green curry paste for the flavours and spiciness, I sautée the usual suspects: chopped onion and cilantro stems, grated garlic and ginger, and red Thai chili pepper.

While these soften, I prepare the Jasmin brown rice in my rice cooker. As part of the Indian fusion of this dish, I add a generous amount of cinnamon and raisins, adding a delicious sweetness to this otherwise rather spicy dish.

French-Thai-Indian Fusion Ratatouille

French-Thai-Indian Fusion Ratatouille

I slice up the eggplant and a couple of zucchinis, in relatively thin but large slices, and layer these onto the onion mixture. I let these cook till slightly browned, which at this point, they are also beginning to lose their shape. To complete this fusion dish, I add the requisite tomatoes (organic but canned) and the East/Southeast Asian origin straw mushroomsand naturally, herbes de Provence!

Served with a dusting of black sesame seeds and paired with some French rosé, I relish in the mélange of these complementary Euro-Asian flavours!