I found myself alone at home yesterday - a very rare occurence for me. I can't remember the last time I was alone, since I got married and became a mother. It was a treat to potter about the apartment, doing exactly as I pleased, listening to Jeff Buckley, Ella Fitzgerald and Antonio Carlos Jobim, singing along at the top of my lungs, without eyeballs rolling left, right and centre, while sipping a little wine, just before lunch, in between the laundry, ironing and scrubbing.

Of course I love my family, but being almost constantly surrounded by 5 people means I often eat according to the whims of others and  being alone means I don't have to contend with A's aversion to herbs, or B's distaste for olives and C's complete refusal to eat any vegetable not sliced into "half moons"! Strange food phobias seem to run in this family ;)

My stomach soon began protesting against the wine, demanding something more substantial. A quick rummage though the kitchen revealed that I had 3 chicken wings and a half empty bag of naan in the freezer, jars of dried beans and lentils and a huge bunch of the most gorgeous cilantro in the fridge. I was really hungry and didn't want to wait for anything to thaw, so I decided to pretty up the flatbreads and make a quick lentil mush to dunk them in. I didn't even have any fresh ginger or vegetables left and just 4 miserable cloves of garlic. Ever had days like that? My head's been a little too much in the blogosphere lately and I've fallen behind in grocery buying. Fortunately there were jars of dried, ground ginger (don't look at me that way Devaki *blush*) garlic powder and just enough yoghurt left in the tub.

The thought of flat bread impregnated with the flavour of cilantro and garlic madly appealed but since I was using frozen, already formed and partially baked ones, I couldn't get the cilantro into the dough. I decided to "glue" it on with some cheese and was glad to find a small chunk of near petrified parmesan, hiding at the back of my fridge *sigh* Welcome to the less glamourous side of food blogging, the one bitten off in chunks, by reality!

I think I managed to put together a pretty decent lunch, simple though it was and was quite shocked when my 2 younger boys returned later around tea time and  made short work of the remaining lentils and bread. They HATE anything green and lentils are definitely not among their favoured foods! Children never cease to amaze me, or maybe they just prefer simple, pared down, teetering on the edge of desperation cooking?

Prep 15 mins        Cook 35 mins       Serves 2 - 3


1/2 cup quick cooking red lentils, wash several times and drain
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp finely ground dried ginger
1 - 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, peel and slice thinly
4 cloves garlic, peel and slice
2 green chillies, deseed and slice
A generous pinch hot, red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
3 Tbsp yoghurt (I used full fat)
A shower of fresh, beautiful cilantro to garnish

Combine the lentils, water, turmeric and ginger powder in a small pot. Bring to the boil then lower heat and simmer, uncovered for about 25 minutes or until very tender and almost disintegrating.

When lentils are almost done cooking, heat about 3 tablepoons vegetable oil in a separate small pot or pan and when moderately hot, add the cumin seeds, stirring them and esuring they don't burn. Add the onions, garlic and green chillies and keep stirring until fragrant and onions are golden. Add the pinch of red pepper and give a quick stir. Turn off heat and transfer this spice mixture including the oil, to the pot of simmering lentils.

Stir the lentil mixture and add the salt and yoghurt. Stir again and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Once it reaches a simmer again, turn off the heat and dish out. Garnish with lots of cilantro and serve with the cilantro naan/flatbread below.

This hardly requires a recipe. Take your naan or flat bread straight from the freezer, don't thaw. Sprinkle just enough finely grated Parmesan over to get an evenly thin layer. Scatter over as much scissor cut cilantro as you like and then sprinkle the lot with a little more grated Parmesan, a little bit of garlic powder and a grinding of black pepper if you wish. Drizzle with good olive oil, and slide into your pizza toaster until golden and crusty - don't overdo do it or you'll lose that gorgeous fresh green of the cilantro. Remove and serve with the lentil mush above.