Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Recipe: North African Pork & Lentil Curry

Determined not to waste (or, more likely, nibble on every time I open the fridge) some delicious slow-roasted pork belly, I knocked up a little leftovers recipe on Monday evening. It was the perfect start to a long week and made great use of some great quality meat. 

I love improvising in the kitchen and usually take inspiration from combinations of ingredients in a handful of favourite recipes. My inspiration for Monday's quick supper was from a North African chicken tagine recipe. I decided to use the sweet and spicy flavours with a tomato-based sauce to liven up my leftover pork belly; served on some cous cous with a good hit of red chili, the dish really hit the spot. 

Here's what you'll need: 

Olive oil 
1 red chilli 
Leftover meat, such as pork belly, cubed 
Green lentils 
Sweet baby peppers - assorted colours from Tesco Finest are very nice
Ground coriander
Ground cumin
Ground cinnamon (or a couple of cinnamon sticks if you have them instead) 
Saffron threads - a generous pinch 
Garlic clove 
Red onion 
A generous squeeze of ginger puree (or grated fresh ginger if you have it) 
Half a tin of chopped tomatoes  (200g)
Chicken stock cube - made up with 250ml boiling water 
1 tbsp clear honey 
Tomato puree
Small handful of dried and stoned dates 

Here's what I did: 

1. Heat the olive oil to a medium heat in a large deep frying pan and gently fry the diced onion and diced red chilli until the onion is soft and slightly browned. Add a pressed garlic clove and a generous squeeze of pureed ginger or a 2cm piece of ginger, grated. Stir in and cook for about 30 seconds. 

2. Next, add the spices - the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, saffron - and cook the mixture for 1 minute more. Stir in the peppers, sliced into halve or quarters depending on size, and then the leftover meat. Stir to coat and add a squeeze or two of tomato puree. 

3. Mix well, until the peppers are starting to soften, and do not let the mixture burn or stick. Add the tinned tomatoes and 250ml of chicken stock and drizzle the honey over, stirring everything together. Finally, add the drained, rinsed lentils and stir well.

4. Bring to the boil, stirring often, then reduce the heat to very low and cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Check for seasoning and add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, if necessary.  Finally, chop the dates into nibble-sized pieces and stir them into the curry.

5. Remove the lid and let the curry gently bubble until the liquid reaches your desired consistency. I like a thicker, drier consistency than, for example, a typical North African tagine recipe calls for. The lentils soak up the liquid fairly quickly so keep an eye on the curry so that it does not dry out. 

Serve with cous cous and green salad... and enjoy! :-)