A healthy soup with lentils, pomegranate and turmeric
T urmeric has been used through the ages as a condiment, medicine and textile dye. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, and has a tough brown skin and deep orange flesh. This herb's flavour is peppery, warm and bitter while its fragrance is mild and reminiscent of orange and ginger, to which it is related.
Turmeric is native to Indonesia and South India, where it has been harvested for more than 5,000 years. It has served an important role in many traditional cultures throughout the East, and is revered in Ayurveda.
Turmeric powder should kept in a tightly-sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place. Fresh turmeric rhizomes should be kept in the refrigerator. Be careful when using turmeric, since its deep colour can easily stain.
To avoid a lasting stain, quickly wash any area with which it has made contact with soap and water. To prevent staining your hands, you might consider wearing kitchen gloves while handling turmeric.
If you are able to find turmeric rhizomes in the grocery store, you can make turmeric powder at home by boiling, drying and then grinding them finely.
Turmeric is an excellent source of iron and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fibre and potassium.
Now, for a recipe.
Pomegranate and lentil soup
Gram dal: 120 gm
Butter: Three tbsp
Onion (diced): one
Garlic (minced): two cloves
Water: 400 ml
Long-grain rice: 50 gm Turmeric: one tsp
Salt and freshly-ground pepper: To taste
Fresh basil (chopped): 30 gm
Green onion (chopped): 30 gm
Pomegranate juice: 80 ml
Chopped fresh mint (two tbsp) or crushed dried mint (two tsp)
Raisins: 2 tbsp
Method: Rinse lentils and set aside to drain. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add sweet onions and toss. Gently sauté onions until soft, for about three minutes.
Add garlic and sauté for two minutes. Add water, drained lentils, rice, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer on low flame for about 45 minutes, until lentils and rice are tender. Add basil, green onions, and pomegranate juice to the soup. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of butter in a small skillet, and add mint and sauté until the butter turns golden.
Drizzle this on top of the soup, and sprinkle a few raisins before serving.