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Lent or Lentils

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Does lent mean you can eat lentils?

Are lentils lenten?

Lent is the 40 days before Easter. It's marked by Ash Wednesday. The key for all you who care is the day before Ash Wednesday is called Fat Tuesday, and culminates the end of the Mardi Gras / Carnival season in the western hemisphere. Thus the most secular and hedonistic of american celebrations (which could be described as baccanal debachery) indeed does have deep significant religious roots.

Being a protestant, I've never followed too much of those things. However there's somthing to the idea of giving up somthing. A couple of years ago I gave up booze. This year I thought of somthing more significant.

So I've decided to give up meat for Lent this year. Mostly to be a little bit healthier, and also to see if I can loose some weight. It's changed the way I think about cooking, and well... I do see a point to at least some of the things. Plus try and do it without being obnoxious to all my friends.

At the right is what my table looked like with leftovers. A bit of baked pasta. Lots of chopped parsley, and the lentils which had been soaking in a bowl for a while. I'll have to start with the chick peas as well.

Things I've learned.

Lentils are a bean, and they should be treated that way. You can eat a lot of them, just make sure your system is prepared for it. After eating a lot of them for a couple of days. I've been a bit more flatulent than normal.

You can make them Indian style with ginger, some milk, onions, kidney beans and garlic. (Daal Makana) They still can be rather heavy. Lentils are like beans, neither completely a vegetable, nor completely a grain. Peas are similar.

Here's the second stage of my testing. I made my own tabouleh. Which is a Middle eastern (Persian, Lebanese, Turkish, maybe even a bit Greek) salad, made from bulger wheat, parsley, and onions.

It could have been thought of as bland. But it was rather refreshing, and of course, better eaten cold.

The market around the corner from me had two types of bulger wheat. A red kind and a white kind. The red kind was very fibrous, the white kind was a little bit softer.

Together with some marinated cucumbers (okay they're pickles, what else could I call them) I think it made a pretty healthy meal.

So that's what I've been eating. Lentils, bulger wheat, pasta, and the rest... I'm not starving, and it's a good change from what I usually cook. Tomorrow. I'm going to try Chiles Rellenos, stuffed with cheese, raisins and walnuts.



1/2 cup medium grain bulgur
1 1/4 cups water
4 cups loosely packed, roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, about 3 bunches
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced tomatoes, about 3 to 5 Roma tomatoes,
1/4 cup green onions chopped, white and some of the green, about 2 green onions
1/4 to 1/2 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped mint leaves

For the dressing:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
Pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Bring water to a boil, pour in bulgur, stir, cover, and turn off heat. Let stand 20 to 25 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and bulgur is fluffy and tender. Pour off any remaining liquid.

To prepare dressing, in a small non-reactive bowl, whisk together lemon juice, garlic, salt and oil. Taste and adjust seasonings.

In a large salad bowl, toss together parsley, tomatoes, green onions and mint. Add bulgur. Pour dressing over salad, toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Morph 1: Add more diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, and diced raw zucchini to the tabbouleh.

Morph 2: Add rinsed and drained canned chickpeas, and rinsed and drained canned lentils

Morph 3: Grill some boneless, skinless chicken breast, dice, toss with the tabbouleh and wrap it up in fresh pita.

Morph 4: Serve as a small side salad with fish .


Here's a photo of the lentils, I guess you can just make them similar to a risoto or somthing else, and just let them simmer down a bit to soften up.


1 cup whole urad daal (urad sabut)
1tbsp Red kidney beans (Rajma)
1 onion finely chopped
1 tomato finely chopped
1" Ginger piece
2-3 green chilies finely chopped
chopped coriander leaves
4-5 flakes Garlic paste
1/2 cup stirred curd
1/2 cup fresh stirred cream (malai)
2tbsp butter
1tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1/2tsp turmeric powder
1/2tsp Garam masala
Red chili powder to taste
1/2tsp dhania powder (Coriander powder)
Salt to taste

How to make dal makhni :
• Soak rajma in water overnight.
• Add water & little salt and pressure-cook Rajma and urad daal till soft for about
20-25 minutes. Mash and boil again for 15-20 minutes and add curd and cream to the
• Now in kadhai heat oil, splutter cumin seeds and add garlic paste, fry till light
brown. Add onions and fry till golden brown.
• Now add ginger, green chilies and tomatoes and fry till tomatoes soften.
• Now add dry masalas (turmeric powder, chili powder, dhania powder & salt) and fry
again for a moment.
• Add daal and stir on medium flame. As soon as it starts boiling remove from the
• Sprinkle garam masala powder and garnish daal makhni with coriander and add
• Serve daal makhni hot. Goes well with laccha paratha, naan or rice.

March 2, 2007