Dinner

By Aine Carlin | July 25, 2011

Photo: Aine Carlin

Coconuts and Avocados: two of nature’s greatest gifts. Who on earth cares about cream, butter, and cheese when you have these luscious foods at your disposal?

Technically a fruit, the coconut has become a major feature in my diet and my cooking. I’m a total coconut oil convert, frequently use desiccated coconut in a wide variety of desserts and breakfasts and have firmly placed coconut milk as a steadfast staple in my kitchen. I’ve even replaced my beloved soy milk for coconut milk – which is a good thing really, as I’m always looking for ways to limit my soy intake.

To clarify, there are two kinds of coconut milk on the market; one is canned and is used mainly for cooking and the other is reserved for drinking or pouring into tea, coffee or onto cereal. It is also wonderful in smoothies and shakes.

Canned coconut milk is exceptionally creamy, which makes it ideal for making ice-creams, yogurt, sweetened whipped cream and also lends a richness to any dish in which it is used. In my eyes, coconut milk can do no wrong. It’s the food that keeps on giving and I’m happy to take, take, take.

Although ‘spiced’ this dish is not particularly spicy – even with the added chili and paprika. The spice is very mild and subtle but absolutely essential in aiding the soup to be bursting with the incredible flavor it possesses. Sheer aromatic excellence if you ask me.

Alternatively, do as I did and make a massive pot and warm for lunch as and when needed. It really is the most satisfying midday meal I’ve had in a very long time. For some strange reason though every time I eat it I cannot get this song out of my head:

“She put the lime in the coconut. She drank them both up”

The sentiment rings true and I wholeheartedly urge you to follow suit and put some lime in your coconut and drink them both up. Pronto.

Photo: Aine Carlin

  • 1/2 large red onion (I used a quarter of a colossal one)
  • 1/2 red chili
  • thumbsize piece of peeled ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 400g can coconut milk
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1 scant tsp vegan vegetable bouillon
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • pink Himalayan salt
  • black pepper
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 heaped tsp coconut oil

Directions

1. Finely chop the red onion - I actually like to mince mine with a knife.

2. Heat the coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan. Add the onion, season, cover and allow to soften for several minutes.

3. Meanwhile, mince the chili, garlic and ginger together. Add to pan, cover and cook for a few more minutes until the flavors begin to infuse - your kitchen should be full of wonderful aromas by now.

4. Rinse and sort the red lentils and add to pan along with the ground coriander, paprika and cumin. Mix thoroughly and then pour in the coconut milk and water. Sprinkle in the vegetable bouillon and lightly season with some pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5. Cover, bring to the boil and then lower to a gentle simmer for forty minutes, ensuring to stir frequently.
Juice the lime and set aside.

6. When the lentils have softened and almost disintegrated to form a thick, creamy soup, take off the heat, pour in the lime juice, taste for seasoning and serve with a few fresh coriander leaves for garnish.

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