red lentil and carrot kofte

i have a new cookery book and have been cooking up a storm. the book is diana henry’s a change of appetite and i love it. i have a few of her books – crazy water, pickled lemons plus the wonderful salt, sugar, smoke – and love thes way her flavours pack a punch, whether they are fresh and zingy or softer and gentle.

cooking for friends was the first reason to get stuck in and we kicked off with these red lentil and carrot kofte, topped with pomegranate and drizzled with a tahini dressing.  they are perfect if you’re hosting a meal as they can be prepared in advance and are eaten at room temperature. i say that but actually mine were a bit cooler as they needed some time in the fridge to firm up a little. leftovers the next day were also delicious.

the other dishes i served, all from the book, were chicken shawarma served on on a bed of chickpea puree with flatbreads and a salsa of pomegranate, sumac and onion plus, for pudding, earl grey poached pears with greek yoghurt. i loved the chicken but need to experiment with the pears as the bergamot perfume of the earl grey was missing.

diana henry’s red lentil and carrot kofte with pomegraantes, coriander and tahini (makes 30, serves 6)

35ml tahini

1¾ lemons, juiced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

90g red lentils

50g bulgur wheat

200g carrots

150ml carrot juice or water

a pinch of caster sugar

1 red onion, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon of ground cumin

1 tablespoon of ground paprika

1 tablespoon of turkish pepper paste (or you could use harissa)

1 tablespoon tomato purée

2 bunches of coriander, finely chopped

1 pomegranate, seeds only

25g baby salad leaves, to serve

to make the sauce, mix the tahini with 75ml of water (abby note: this was too much for me so i suggest you start with 50ml, adding more if you need it), then the juice of ½ a lemon, 1 crushed garlic clove, and 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin oil. season with salt and pepper. it should end up about as thick as double cream. if it’s too thick, add a bit more water.

put the lentils in a pan with 250ml of water. bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes, until completely soft. remove from the heat and add the bulgur, stir, cover and leave for 20 minutes so the grains can plump up.

cook the carrots with the sugar and season with salt and pepper in 150ml of the carrot juice or water (the carrot juice intensifies their flavour). when completely soft, drain, mash and mix with the lentil mixture.

heat a tablespoon of regular olive oil and sauté the red onion until completely soft, for about 7 minutes. add the cumin, paprika and remaining garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. stir in the pepper paste and tomato purée and cook for 30 seconds. stir this into the lentil and carrot mix. mix in the juice of 1 lemon, half the coriander, seasoning and 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin oil. taste for seasoning.

shape the kofte mix into balls the size of a walnut in its shell, with an indentation in one side. put them on a serving platter. fill each indentation with pomegranate seeds. toss the remaining coriander and baby leaves with the remaining extra virgin oil and lemon, put on a platter and drizzle with tahini. serve the kofte with the salad.