This comforting soup is wonderfully creamy, with warm and satisfying hits from coriander, cumin and, most importantly, fresh turmeric. When in season, fresh turmeric is available from many supermarkets and Indian grocery stores, and you may well be able to find it online. You could use ground turmeric for this recipe if you can’t find fresh, but bear in mind its flavour is more powerful than that of fresh. The lentils and chicken work very well together, but if you prefer you can make a vegetarian version by omitting the chicken and doubling the quantity of lentils. And, as a change from soup, you could try this dish with rice and a dollop of yogurt on top.
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
10 curry leaves
2 red onions, roughly chopped
50g (1 3/4oz) fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped (or use 1 tablespoon ground turmeric)
1cm (1/2 inch) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
40g (1 1/2 oz) fresh coriander, leaves and stems roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon honey
400ml (14fl oz) boiling water
400ml (14fl oz) can coconut milk
100g (3 1/2oz) red lentils (massur dal)
500g (1lb 2oz) skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) dice
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the coriander and cumin seeds and the peppercorns and cook for a few seconds, then add the curry leaves and allow all the spices to sizzle for a few seconds more.
Mix in the onions and turmeric, then reduce the heat to medium–low and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly golden.
Stir the ginger and garlic into the saucepan and cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes and mix well. Increase the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened.
Throw in the fresh coriander and take the pan off the heat. Use a hand-held blender to blitz the mixture until smooth or, alternatively, transfer the mixture to a blender to process it, then return the soup to the pan.
Put the saucepan back over medium heat. Stir in the salt, honey, measured boiling water and three-quarters of the coconut milk. Now mix in the lentils and chicken. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the lentils and chicken are both cooked. Sprinkle over the extra fresh coriander and drizzle with the remaining coconut milk before serving.
From Chetna’s Healthy Indian by Chetna Makan. Copyright 2019, Mitchell Beazley.
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