A delicious lentil dish, with a wealth of flavours - have it as a side, a lunch dish, or make it into a main with your choice of toppings.
This is a fantastic way to eat lentils - and also incredibly versatile. The spices and fresh herbs make it a great standalone dish for lunch, or you could top it simply with some crumbled feta, or add spiced, roasted cubes of butternut squash or sweet potato wedges to make it more of a hearty vegetarian main or some steamed vegetables.
We enjoyed it served with steamed green beans, and some really easy harissa chicken (see here for recipe, 173 calories per serving) - or lamb, or a firm white fish steak would work equally well with these flavours. You could throw in more vegetables at the beginning if you like, such as diced carrots and red peppers - and even add more stock to make it a lunchtime soup - I've used Puy lentils, but if you prefer, you could use plain green lentils (however you will need to increase the cooking time as per instructions on the packet). If you don't have all the spices, just play around a little with what you've got.
Serves six as a side dish or a light lunch, or four as a main with vegetables on the side. 171 calories per serving for a sixth serving, 256 calories for a quarter, if you're counting - feel free to slosh in an extra glug of olive oil if you're not, or even dress with a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil when you serve. [Calories in square brackets]
- 200g Puy lentils (or use green lentils if you prefer, but increase the cooking time) 
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil (7.5ml - not extra virgin, or your preferred oil) 
- 4 cloves garlic (or to taste!) 
- 1 large red chilli pepper, de-seeded 
- 1 large red onion (or white is fine - around 150g) 
- 2 tsp ground cumin 
- 2 tsp ground coriander 
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon 
- 1 tsp ground turmeric 
- 550ml vegetable or chicken stock 
- 1 x 400ml tin chopped tomatoes 
- 2 x 15ml tbsp lemon juice 
- 1 small punnet cherry tomatoes (recommended) or 3 large vine tomatoes (330g) 
- Large handful each of fresh coriander and flat leaf parsley leaves (a good 10g each) 
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Finely chop the garlic and chilli pepper, and dice the onion (about 1/2 cm dice). Sautee the onion in a large, heavy-based (non-stick, if possible) pan in the oil over a low to medium heat for 5 minutes, until it has softened, then add the garlic and chilli and continue to cook for another minute, stirring. Add the ground spices (cumin, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric), stir in and cook for another minute or so until fragrant (watch they don't catch on the bottom of your pan).
Add the stock, tinned tomatoes, lemon juice to the pan, put the lentils in a sieve and rinse them well and add those to the pan as well. Give it all a good stir, bring to the boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through until your liking (unlike red lentils, if you haven't had them before, they don't disintegrate, but stay reasonably firm and nutty - they shouldn't be crunchy though! Go nearer 20 minutes if you're not sure, or even a little longer). The consistency will be quite 'soupy'.
While the lentils are cooking, chop the fresh herbs and set aside (reserve a few to garnish), and then if you are using large tomatoes, halve them, cut out the core, and cut into a chunky dice. For cherry tomatoes, just halve them - if you like, put the lot between two chopping boards, or on a plate with a board on top, and cut the lot in half all at once with a long, sharp knife!
Once the lentils are cooked to your liking, stir in the tomatoes and fresh herbs, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Leave for a minute or two before serving, for the tomatoes to warm through, then serve sprinkled with the fresh herbs, and enjoy!