Legumes: small things, but what a big world. There are thousands of species of legume, and even those we so often have in our cupboards have all sorts of variables: dried, tinned or jarred; whole or split; hulled or unhulled. No recipe calls for just “lentils”: they’re red, green, brown or black. They’ll be dried or tinned; beluga or puy; urad, channa, masoor, toor, moong … And within this vast range comes huge versatility. This week, I’m using a mix of dried, tinned and jarred legumes. They’re all very different, but they all hold their shape, they all soak up the flavours with which they are cooked – and they will all transport you to very different places.
Tamarind greens and mung beans with turmeric oil (pictured above)
This echoes the flavours of southern Iran, with a few additions and tweaks. It works as a vegetarian main (serve it with fluffy white rice or flatbread) or as a side to all sorts of things: pan-fried tofu, say, or grilled prawns.
Prep 30 min Cook 1 hr 20 min Serves 4
105ml olive oil 2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced (420g net weight) 10 garlic cloves, all peeled, 5 crushed and 5 thinly sliced 2 green chillies, finely chopped, seeds and all (25g) 2 tsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar 1 tsp mild curry powder 1 tbsp tomato paste 120g mung beans, soaked in cold water for at least 1 hour, then drained 1kg swiss chard, stalks removed and reserved for another use, leaves roughly shredded (480g) 1 tsp caster sugar Salt and black pepper 3 tbsp tamarind paste 40g fresh coriander, roughly chopped, plus a handful of extra picked leaves to serve ½ tsp ground turmeric ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional) ½ lemon 130g Greek-style yoghurt
Put a large saute pan for which you have a lid on a medium-high heat, and add four tablespoons of oil. Once it’s hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 18 minutes, until soft and browned. Transfer a third of the onions to a bowl, then add the crushed garlic, chilli, spices and tomato paste to the onion pan and cook, stirring, for a minute more, until fragrant.
Add the drained mung beans and 800ml water, bring up to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 30-35 minutes, until the beans have softened but still retain their shape. Add the chard, sugar, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, replace the lid and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for 10 minutes more, until the chard has softened and the liquid has thickened. Stir in the tamarind and coriander, and keep warm on a low heat until you’re ready to serve.
Towards the last 10 or so minutes of cooking, put the remaining three tablespoons of oil and the sliced garlic in a small frying pan on a medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 12 minutes, until the garlic is lightly golden, then stir in the turmeric and chilli flakes, and turn off the heat.
Transfer the bean mixture to a large, shallow bowl and squeeze over the lemon half. Top with spoonfuls of yoghurt followed by the reserved onions, then spoon over the crisp garlic slices and their oil. Garnish with a handful of picked coriander and serve warm.
Lamb shanks with beluga lentils and apricots
Yotam Ottolenghi’s lamb shanks with beluga lentils and apricots.
This dish is inspired by dal makhani, that buttery Indian dish made rich by the sheer amount of cream or ghee in which the black lentils and red kidney beans are cooked. This is a simplified version, less rich, and with added sweetness from the apricots.
Prep 25 min Cook 3 hr 35 min Serves 4, generously
3 tbsp ghee 2 lamb shanks (800g net weight) Salt and black pepper 30g piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 2 green chillies, finely chopped, seeds and all (20g) 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped (180g) 2 tsp garam masala 2 tsp ground cumin 50g tomato paste 100g soft-dried apricots, quartered 220g dried beluga lentils 1 x 400g tin kidney beans in water (240g), drained 50ml double cream, plus 1½ tbsp extra to serve 1 tsp caster sugar
For the apricot salsa 80g soft-dried apricots, roughly chopped and soaked in hot water for 20 minutes 4 tbsp (15g) fresh coriander, roughly chopped 3 limes – zest finely grated, to get 1½ tbsp, and juiced, to get 2 tbsp 3 tbsp olive oil
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6.
On a high heat, melt two tablespoons of the ghee in a large, oven-proof cast-iron saucepan for which you have a lid. Season the lamb shanks with half a teaspoon of salt, then sear them in the hot fat for six minutes, turning as necessary, until they’re golden all around. Transfer to a plate and leave the pan to cool slightly.
Return the pan to a medium heat, add the ginger, garlic and chillies, and saute, stirring occasionally, for three minutes, until fragrant. Add the onion, cook, stirring, for three minutes more, then add the garam masala, a teaspoon of cumin and the tomato paste, and cook for another five minutes, until the oil separates. Return the shanks to the pan, add the apricots and a litre and a quarter of water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, transfer it to the oven and bake for 90 minutes.
Remove from the oven and use tongs gently to lift out the shanks and transfer them to a plate. Stir the lentils, beans, cream, sugar, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper into the pan, then return the lamb to the mix. Cover again and bake for another 90 minutes, until the lamb is fork tender and the lentils are soft – give it all a good stir halfway through, and add a splash more water if the sauce is too thick. Stir in the last tablespoon of ghee and set aside.
While the lamb is cooking, make the salsa. Drain the apricots, then put in a medium bowl with the coriander, lime juice and zest and oil, toss to combine and set aside.
Gently transfer the shanks to a plate. Spoon the lentil mixture on to a large, shallow platter, sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of cumin powder and drizzle with the extra cream. Top with the shanks, spoon over the salsa and serve.
Butter beans with preserved lemon, chilli and herb oil
Yotam Ottolenghi’s butter beans with preserved lemon, chilli and herb oil.
These are inspired by the flavours of the Mediterranean. They intensify with time, so ideally make them a day ahead, so everything sits together overnight. Once made, the beans will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three days. Try to use good-quality, jarred butter beans: they’ll make a world of difference. Serve with crusty bread to mop it all up.
Prep 20 min Cook 40 min Infuse 1 hr+ Serves 4 as a meze
5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped 2 mild red chillies, finely chopped, seeds and all (30g net weight) 1 tbsp coriander seeds, finely crushed in a mortar 3 preserved lemons (80g), inner parts discarded and skin finely sliced (45g) 1½ tbsp picked thyme leaves, roughly chopped 4 rosemary sprigs 1 tbsp tomato paste 175ml olive oil Flaked sea salt and black pepper 1 x 700g jar good-quality large butter beans, drained (550g net weight) – I like the El Navarrico brand 2 large vine tomatoes (220g), roughly grated and skins discarded (120g)
Put the first eight ingredients and a quarter-teaspoon of flaked salt in a medium saute pan on a medium-low heat. Stir everything together and heat gently for 25 minutes, until very fragrant but not at all coloured (if the oil gets too hot, turn the heat down low).
Stir in the butter beans, turn the heat up to medium and cook for 10 minutes, until the oil just starts to bubble. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour, and preferably overnight.
Meanwhile, mix the grated tomato with half a teaspoon of flaked salt and a good grind of pepper.
Pour the butter bean mixture into a shallow bowl, spoon over the grated tomato, mixing it in a little in places, and serve at room temperature.
What’s the best way to get children interested in cooking, and what should I teach them? Georgie, Suffolk
The golden rule, says Thomasina Miers, is patience – and lots of it. “It can be a slow process,” she sympathises. “I talk about how delicious food is and always put olive oil, lemons and herbs on the table for them to add to their meal.”
And it’s a good idea to start them young. “Kids are mimics,” says restaurateur and author of Australian FoodBill Granger, “so they’ll do what you do.”
Darina Allen, who runs the renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, puts toddlers on stirring duty. A messy strategy, yes, so gird yourself. Granger agrees: “They’ll make your life hard,” he says “but just involve them.”
Perhaps controversially, Allen then turns to knife skills: “Lots of parents wouldn’t be happy with this, but from three and a half to four years old they can hold a knife. It’s vital they’re shown how to use one safely, keeping the tips of the fingers tucked under the knuckles and, if they’re using the tip of the knife, to put the index finger along the back of the blade.”
Don’t be afraid to deploy underhand tactics, AKA bribery. Miers suggests banana and chocolate bread or fairy cakes to tempt five-year-olds into the kitchen: “They’re fun and sugary – you’ve got to get them that way.” Allen finds success in drop scones: “Children can put spoonfuls on to a frying pan, wait until the bubbles rise and burst, flip over with a palette knife and cook on the other side.” If enthusiasm wavers, baker Lily Jones, founder of east London’s Lily Vanilli, relinquishes control over decorating cupcakes or cookies: “Their enthusiasm can drop off a cliff abruptly, so I’m quick to do the boring parts.”
By the time they’re eight, Granger looks for dishes with a bit of a process: “Pizza dough is great: I use three cups of flour, a cup of water and a couple of teaspoons of yeast.” Kids can then go all-out on toppings. Try quick and easy dips, such as hummus, which children can cut celery and cucumber into sticks to dip in, or get the box grater out for vegetable fritters (Allen recommends carrot and spring onion). Miers says: “A cheese and herb omelette is also a good skill to have. Children can grate cheese and cut herbs (with scissors if their knife skills aren’t up to it).”
Come 12, Miers ups the ante with homemade pasta, while Granger makes life easier with a gnocchi bake, adding a simple tomato sauce (using passata) and mozzarella. Crumbles and traybakes (think flapjacks) are, of course, good for most ages, but Jones suggests adding basic icing techniques to their arsenal too: “Use a dessert spoon to scoop icing on to a cake or cupcake, then use the back of the spoon to create waves and spread on the icing.”
When they hit their teens, it’s time to experiment. “Find out what their favourite food is and get a cookbook,” Granger says, who then puts them to work cooking for friends. “After all, kids like showing off.”
My husband of 10 years used to travel a bit on business, and we would send each other explicit photos and videos of ourselves. I thought I had hidden all incriminating images in a protected folder on my phone, but, the other night, while I was randomly flicking through old family videos with my husband and 13-year-old stepson, up popped a video of my husband in all his glory, holding himself. There was stunned silence from the two of us, then panicked laughter, while my stepson looked at me with a bemused “busted!” expression. He still seems unconcerned about it, but both of us feel terrible. Should we have a conversation about it, wait to see if he acts any differently towards us, or trust our first instinct, which was to be a bit embarrassed and then pretend it never happened? We’re not a prudish household, but we figure that forcing him to talk could make this episode even weirder and more awkward than it already is. What should we do?
Our children pick up on our attitudes towards sex without any words being spoken. In fact, the most powerful learning they receive is the unspoken message. They easily absorb how each parent views sex, through our reactions when sexual content appears on TV, or the way we react when someone alludes to sex in conversation. Given that unspoken messages are the most powerful ways parents communicate ideas and feelings about sex, you have already let your stepson know everything he needs to understand about this. He is old enough to put it into context, and if he questions you in the future your job is to simply give a relaxed answer. You were right to normalise the accidental revelation, and there would be little point in returning to the subject.
Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.
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Whether it is to protect yourself from the cold weather or you need a statement accessory, every man requires a scarf or two in his wardrobe. And, now as the winter season is approaching, it’s time to get creative with your scarf draping styles. Be it a casual or business look, learn stylish ways to wear a scarf. Here’s a look at five ways you can wear a scarf and beat the chill in style:
Casual For a simple and casual look, you can pull off a laid-back style with your scarf. Wrap the scarf around your neck and pull out the ends and adjust at the same level. You can tuck it into your jacket or layer it on top of a fuzzy sweater.
Smart Casual If you’re not a fan of the ‘too casual look’, you can drape a scarf over the shoulder. Simply drape the scarf over the neck and keep one end longer than the other. This can help to add a touch of finesse to your casual look.
Formal For a formal setting, it is important to drape the scarf with clean lines for a smart look. With a suit, you can try the ascot knot by draping the scarf around the shoulder and form a cross. Then, put one end under the other and pull it up to make a knot and tuck it in for a neat look.
(How to tie an ascot knot, Photo: Blacklapel)
Business For a business or official meeting, your scarf needs to look sophisticated and sharp. Ascot and loop knots can work well for a clean look. For the loop knot, fold the scarf in half and wrap it around your neck. Next, add the loose ends through the loop to make this knot.
(How to tie a loop knot, Photo: Blacklapel)
Evening Whether you’re wearing a tuxedo or a suit, a stylish scarf can make a sartorial statement. It’s best to stick to fine fabrics like silk and cashmere with subtle patterns. You can wrap the scarf around the neck and tuck it behind the lapels of the jacket as shown in the photo.