We were thrilled when the sun started shining and the temperatures peaked to 25 degree Celsius. Oh ! What glorius days they were. I even lamented to my husband that it's too hot in the house and we should get a fan and wondered out loud about the benefits of an air conditioner like we had back in Dubai (gasp). As you imagined, the good weather didn't last long and it's back to the unpredictable weather. The other day we were walking to the town and then the library where we got soaked about 4 times. Bit of rain, then the sun, they played hide and seek and Ammar was sure the rain was targeting us. LOL ! As everytime we stepped out of a shop to the street, it would start pouring.


But the rain is quite welcome since it's the month of Ramadan, the month of fasting. As it is, we fast around 19 hours a day, and don't want a scorching sun to squeeze dry our already parched body. As customary I make a rice and meat based congee for our iftar (break fast) meals. But I do switch it with broth based clear soups and this lentil soup. 

These red lentils play a major role in Srilankan cooking. We make dhal or red lentil curry to go along with rice and other dishes. At my house we make dhal only two, three times a week; but for the majority of Srilankans lunch wouldn't be complete without the dhal curry. And we never had it in soup form.
I got my first taste of lentil soup when I was in Middle East. Each place had it's own version of lentil soup.


Some restuarants would serve it with a rice dish and some on its own. This is how we prefer in our household, specially my husband. I like to bulk my soup with vegetables. Carrots and celery and loads of parsley. I am not heavy handed with spices here just a touch to enhance the flavours. And I prefer to serve it with chili flakes for the heat along with a drizzle of oil,and sprinkle of chopped parsley. You can serve it with a pieces of crusty sourdough bread as I do normally. But for Iftar I skip the bread serve it along side an array of short-eats.






Print Recipe

Lentil and Vegetable Soup with Parsley
A light and hearty soup with vegetables and parsley. Serve it with a drizzle of oil, chili flakes, chopped parsley and piece of crusty bread.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Red lentils
  • 5 cups Chicken stock
  • 1 Onion, medium
  • 2 Tomatoes, medium
  • 1 tsp Ginger & Garlic paste
  • 1 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 Carrot, large
  • 2 stalks Celery
  • 1/2 cup Parsley, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Chili flakes
Instructions
Wash the red lentils until water runs clear and drain. Heat oil in a pot and add the chopped onions to it. When onions start to turn into light brown add the ginger,garlic paste. Cook till the raw smell disappears. Add the chopped tomatoes.Saute the tomatoes for a minute. Then add the turmeric, coriander and cumin powder. Add the chooped carrots and celery. Saute for a few minutes mixing till the vegetables are coated with spices.Add the lentils and give it a good stir. Add the chicken stock and chopped parsley. Reserve some parsley to serve on top. Add salt to taste. Increase the heat to medium high and let the soup come to a boil. Then decrease it a to medium and let it simmer for about thirty minutes till the vegetables and lentils are cooked. Once cooked, take off heat and blend it to a smooth soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. You might want to add a bit more stock or water to thin the soup if it's too thick. I prefer to thin it down. You might need an additional cup of liquid.Serve it drizzled with a bit of oil, chili flakes and chopped parsley.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings
Lentil and Vegetable Soup with Parsley

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I'm not much into salads. There I said it. The salad played a essential but minor role in meals growing up. It was never, ever considered a main meal. It's because the type of salads we had nicely complemented the Rice & Curry and gave that extra tang or crunch.
There was the cucumber salad which I love. Sliced cucumbers mixed with chopped onions and green chillies with a bit of fresh coconut milk and lime juice. I would sprinkle the liquid to my rice and the dish is elevated to the next level where I'd easily finsh off two portions.
And the raw grated carrot salad. Same method as the cucumber salad without the coconut milk. Then there's the Gotukola salad. These are the salad we had mostly on rotation and was never eaten on it's own. So I could never bring myself to have a salad as a main meal.


It all changed when I started using Quinoa for my husband, I love how versatile the grain is. I would never use white rice in a salad but with Quinoa, it being a protein source, I wanted to give it a try. I wasn't dissappointed and I absolutely loved it. I had made this salad for lunch the other day and had nothing else so the kids had to eat it too. Ahyaan loved it but with Ammar (the elder of the twins) as usual with any new food, he needed cajoling. But I was glad it came out well and we all enjoyed with less work in the kitchen.


Since the summer is already here in Ireland, I'll be making more salads for lunch. This is the month of Ramadan, so this salad will be a lovely addition to the Iftar Menu. This salad doesn't weigh you down and keeps you full. That's very important given the small time frame we have in this part of the world to eat after breaking the fast, that is from sunset to next day 2 hours before sunrise. That's about 5 hours where you have to eat, do the night prayers and get some sleep.
Have the different parts of the salad cooked and prepped early. Then you can assemble it whenever needed. I normally cook extra quinoa and store it in the fridge. Remove pomegranate seeds and have it in a container in the fridge. Butternut Squash is a staple in my pantry. I cut half of the squash for the salad to roast. And the other half, the bulbous seeded part, I roasted in the same oven to be used in soups later. And I buy pre-washed and portioned greens. Are you a salad lover, just got in to salads, what are you favorites ? Let me know..


Print Recipe

Quinoa, Butternut Squash, Pomegranate Salad with Pumpkin Seeds
A colorful and lovely salad full of flavor and crunch.
Ingredients
  • 1 cups Quinoa
  • 3 cup Butternut Squash. cut into thick strips
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1/3 cup Pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tbsp Pumkin Seeds
  • 1 cup Mild Greens like Lamb's lettuce and Red chard
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
Instructions
Measure the quinoa into a strainer. Rinse it under running water for few minutes until the water runs clear. In a pan add the rinsed quinoa, chicken stock, 1 tbsp of oil and saolt and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling turn the heat to low, cover and simmer it for 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let it cool.Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius for 10 minutes. Toss the squash strips in a tablespoon of olive oil and salt. Spread it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast it for 20 minutes until they are done and slightly browned on the edges. Take out of the oven and let it cool.A few minutes before serving, to a bowl add the cooked quinoa, strips of squash, pomegranate seeds, and the greens. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, approximately 2 teaspoons. I like to keep it less sour but you can add more. Toss everything together. Serve with pumkin seeds sprinkled on top.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings
Quinoa, Butternut Squash, Pomegranate Salad with Pumpkin Seeds

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