Here's how to make a base for a fast meal. Take a can lentils and a can of tomatoes …
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp chopped peeled ginger
1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
½ tsp fennel seeds
Pinch ground cinnamon
¼ tsp chilli powder
1 x 400g (8 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 x 400g (8 oz) can brown lentils, drained
Plain unsweetened yoghurt
Chopped coriander (cilantro)
Naan bread for serving
1-2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup cooked pumpkin, kumara (sweet potato) or carrots
200g (about 7 oz) paneer (soft curd cheese, easily made at home, but it can be purchased ready to go)
Lamb mince (follows)
300g (about 10 oz) minced (ground) lamb
1 tsp flaky sea salt
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 Put onion, ginger and garlic in a saucepan with the oil, cover pan with a lid and cook gently for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is tender; stir once or twice to make sure the vegetables don’t catch on the bottom of the pan (lower heat and add a splash of water if that is about to happen). Stir in fennel seeds, cinnamon and chilli powder.
2 Add canned tomatoes, rinse can with a little water and add. Bring to a bubble, then cook gently for about 15 minutes, until pulpy. Stir in lentils, taste and add salt to taste. Cook for 5 minutes more, then transfer to a serving bowl, spoon over a little yoghurt, sprinkle with coriander and ground cumin and serve with naan bread.
Spicy Lamb Mince
1 Put lamb mince in a bowl and break up with a fork. Stir though salt, cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Heat a medium frying pan (skillet) over medium-high heat, then add the oil and get that nice and hot. Add the lamb and pretty much leave it where it falls – if you start moving it around, the temperature will drop. Cook until a good brown. Turn mince over and continue cooking until just cooked through. Tilt pan and transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Ring the changes by adding in any of the following and serve with lemon wedges:
Swirl in baby spinach and serve.
Stir in cooked vegetables, heat through gently and serve.
Cut paneer into cubes, add to pan and gently reheat.
Stir in cooked lamb, heat through, and serve.
Or serve with jacket-baked potatoes and salad.