Most Hungarians have dramatic memories of food they ate in school canteens and the special Hungarian dish ’főzelék’ (mushy vegetable stew similar to the Indian daal) is the most common dish to blame for this experience. However, főzelék is really nutritious, and new-wave Hungarian chefs try hard to modernize this old classic. One trick is to use delicious toppings and a lovely olive oil to go with cooked vegetables, which could be anything. Most popular are potato, green peas, lentils, or spinach, and here is a really delicious version made with split peas. Do give it a go on a gloomy January evening.

Indian split pea stew (serves 2)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cm fresh root ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cumin seds
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon powdered red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 mugs dried split peas
  • 3-4 mugs water
  • 1-2 tablespoons greek yogurt or creme fraiche
  • juice of half a lemon
  • fresh parsley, sumak and fruity olive oil to serve

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and add the bay leafs. Cook for a minute over medium heat and add the mustrad- and coriander seeds. Cover with a lid, wait until they pop, then add the garlic and ginger, mix well, and cook for a further 30 seconds.

Add the cumin, garam masala, turmeric, red pepper powder and salt, and 1 dl of water. Mix well, then add the split peas and all the water. Cover and cook for 35-40 minutes, until the peas are soft.

When the cooking is ready, take half of the peas out to another bowl, and use a hand blender to mush this half. Put it back to the whole peas, add a bit of yogurt, the lemon juice, some more salt if needed, and mix well. Serve with chopped parsle, some sumak and a drizzle of olive oil.


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