Dear Food Bloggers,
If you ever have a chance to compete in a recipe challenge, you must never pass it up! Never. A recipe challenge only comes in the disguise of a challenge – a fight to win. But it really is not. There is more to this challenge than the contest itself. It is an experience. It is your road to self-discovery as a food enthusiast. No one goes home empty handed in these challenges – in fact, the experience itself is the greatest win you can have in your food blogging adventures.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had more than just lentils on my mind. The mind was constantly trying to figure out how to create something that will make people think about incorporating lentils in their recipes more often. Lentils are extremely under-rated as a pulse. Its versatility in cooking is paramount. With Canada being the largest producer of lentils in the world, we could stand to amp up its consumption in this country. All my lentil recipes for the challenge, took their inspiration from my Indian background and found their expression in the ever-evolving western palate. I tried to keep my recipes convenient (no run to the supermarket for fancy ingredients) and easy (no need of special skills or an entire day’s time) yet something newer than the old. My aim was to get the reluctant ones believing otherwise and to keep the already converted lentil lovers happy.
My hope is for my recipes to get cooked and savoured. I sincerely hope people like them. And if you ask if I am hoping to win, I would tell you that we are all winners – this whole experience has been a win for me already. Any money I would win would be gone in no time, but this experience will remain in my memory and encourage me onward.
You can have fun with challenges like this, even while dreaming up a monetary prize. What would I do if I really win the money? Of the grand prize of $2000 some will go to the food bank in St. John’s, some to the student-run soup kitchen at my work, some in my daughter’s education fund, some to feed my friends and family who have fed my heart and soul with love, and finally a bit towards buying kitchen equipment. If I win a category prize, a $400 gift card from Amazon, I will put forward my own money to the food bank of St. John’s and the soup kitchen at work and use the gift card to buy books and more books!
So, here is my last entry to the Lentils Recipe Revelations Challenge into the Best in Freestyle : a Tomato Lentil Relish. Lentils soak up flavour from the sweet, hot, acidic infusions and become nuttier in taste, all the while remaining soft. Add them to your cheese platter, use them as a condiment for burgers and hot dogs, try them as an addition to your tacos or even a sweet salsa like dip with nachos. Eat it with plain rice. Mix it with cream cheese to make a dip – the list is larger than your imagination. This relish is sweet, savoury, tangy and hot with a bit of crunch. Need anything else?
Your comments are always important to me, but here, they are also important in the judging of this recipe. I hope you let me know what you think of the Tomato Lentil Relish and enjoy it as much as I did.
Tomato Lentil Relish - A hot, sweet, and tangy relish with a lentil crunch – totally addictive!
- Black Beluga Lentils: 3/4 cup
- Tomato: 8 large, diced
- Jalapeno: 4 medium sized
- Onion: 1 small chopped
- Ginger: 1/4 cup julienned (not too finely)
- Black whole mustard seeds: 1 and 1/2 tsp
- Sugar: 3/4 cup
- Salt: 1/2 tsp
- Vinegar: 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp
- Thyme: 6-8 sprigs
- Oil: 2 Tbsp
- Water: 1/2 or more
- Rinse your lentils till water runs clean.
- In a medium pan, bring the lentils to a boil with approximately 3 cups of water. Boil lentils for 12 minutes or until they are only partially cooked.
- Take off heat and rinse in cold water until water runs clear.
- Devein and clean the jalapeño peppers (preferably using gloves) and dice them in a small size. If you prefer a hot relish leave half of a jalapeno pepper with vein and seeds while dicing.
- In a saucepan, heat oil and mustard seeds. When the first mustard seed start to pop, add the diced onion, jalapeño and the ginger. Lower heat and fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Now add the diced tomato, and stir for a few minutes to let the tomato break down slightly. Add salt, sugar, vinegar and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil then reduce heat to slow simmer. Cook covered for 20-25 minutes.
- Add the rinsed par boiled lentils and a 1/2 cup of water and let simmer for another 10-12 minutes. Do not cover pot and let the water evaporate a bit.
- Relish is done when your desired consistency is reached, keeping in mind the sauce thickens a bit as it it cools.
- The relish can be canned at this point.
Note: The recipe can be altered in it’s sweetness and heat. If you like a sweeter relish add 1/4 cup more sugar, if you prefer less sweetness take out 1/4 cup sugar. If you like a lot of heat, keep the jalapeño seeds and veins of more than mentioned in recipe, because that’s where most of their heat is.