Monday, 27 February 2012

Spicy Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Fried Red Lentils

It's that time of the year, isn't it? Neither winter nor spring. It's kind of getting warmer, but you still need your coat at times. It's kind of getting brighter earlier and darker later, but now and then the sky still threatens to rain and darken everything. On the food front, it's that time of the year when nothing's especially in season. The tender salad leaves aren't out yet, the winter roots are still here, but they're just going to leave soon, and nothing much is really new.

It's kind of easy to get bored, but thank god there is one "in-between' vegetable that's springing up at the farmer's market, the purple sprouting broccoli. They're gorgeous spindly stalks of broccoli with purple florets instead. I was just thinking to myself how nice it would be to get these instead of roses for valentine's day (I know I'm weird).

Spicy Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Fried Red Lentils
serves 2 as a side
handful of purple sprouting broccoli, broken to roughly even-sized florets
1 cup red split lentils
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
generous pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp ghee or grassfed butter

1. Soak lentils for about 20 min before cooking (to maximise digestibility, split lentils actually cook really quickly so you don't have to soak overnight unlike most pulses). Cook in boiling salted water for about 5-10 min, or until just tender but still retaining its shape. Drain.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and plunge the broccoli in, boil for about 2 min until just tender, and drain and refresh in cold water. Squeeze some lemon juice over for a bit of tang and to help it stay fresh.
3. Fry the chopped garlic in ghee till fragrant, then add the spices and chilli along with the cooked red lentils, and fry till slightly crispy. Season, and add the broccoli to warm through at the end.

Purple sprouting broccoli has a nice delicate taste despite being part of the cabbage family. The leafy stalks are also yummy so don't think it's rather a waste just because of the stalk:floret ratio. The savoury warm spices in the red lentils help to bring out the flavours, and I just find spice a welcome addition in this transition from winter soups to spring salads. To be frank though, it's also because the art student in me just can't resist putting the purple vegetable against the complementary bright yellow of the turmeric-stained lentils.

I'm also submitting this to Dom's Random Recipes Challenge. This month, we have to go back to the first cookbook we used to enter RR, and for me, that was just my folder of cutouts and copied recipes. This came from a cutout for making tarka dal by Madhur Jafffery , which looks delicious and creamy and er, nothing like the red lentils I made. I decided I was sick of soupy dishes, and I kind of decided to just give the whole slow-cooking and tempering thing a miss; but well, there are similar spices used, and it is still red lentils o.0


  1. These purple flowering broccoli is so beautiful and this dish reminds me of "Spring" instantly.

  2. Lovely lovely. My first RR came from my clippings folder too - but it's already boxed away among all the other cookbooks waiting for the container-ship men to come this week - so I'll have to pass on RR's first birthday (sniff!). But it's been a busy month, so I'll have to forgive myself, and I'm sure Dom would too if he saw the state of my flat! Your blog is going to become more and more important to me once back in the UK Shu Han!!! That and!

  3. This is a perfect lentil dish- love both the red lentils and the broccoli. I also love how you cooked them and plan to try this soon!I'm sure this dish is just as good as the one it got its inspiration from.

  4. Hi Shu Han!

    So cool, I have never seen or heard before of the existens of Purple Sprouting Broccoli, they look so adorable! Your lentilles looks delicious too, such a well fitting choice of ingredients. thanks for sharing! =)

  5. what a fantastic dish... so perfectly warming for this time of year and a nice bright welcome change too to all those soupy dishes... nice adaption!... and thank you so much for celebrating my 1st Birthday challenge with me!

  6. Beautiful purple, have not seen this here, make the dish look so pretty!

  7. Awesome! Never seen them before. Great combination of colors with spicy lentils! YUM!!

  8. zoe: It's beautiful isn't it! I love the purple florets!

    little macaroon: wow where on earth did you get that link! haha, i can see some strong singapore withdrawal symptoms coming up! hurry go eat all the fried carrot cake and char kway teow and bak chor mee before you leave!

    sarah: thank you! it is very different from the original though, I must say!

    helene: they aren't that common ins upermarkets but they're so frequent in the farmer's markets now (:

    dom: I'm just happy you accept it haha, given all the changes I've made!

    sonia: thank you, I love the colour too!

    i: haha the colour combination was what really inspired me too (:

  9. Beautifully colourful, very appealing dish.

  10. What a beautiful Spring dish! With the high temperature and the sun I already feel the Winter is over.
    I have never had sprouting brocoli, must check it on my market on Saturday. Thank you for sharing market novelties with us. You are the one who knows best what's new and in season :-)

  11. Hi Shuhan, I never had purple broccoli before I don't think - I've at least never seen it here, but what a beautiful colour, and I love the combination with the lentils. I didn't eat lentils for a while - I have a big bag in the cupboard doing nothing - I feel like I have an urge to prepare something with them. I might not be able to find this broccoli, but I'll use regular green stuff!

  12. Hi Shu Han, I have an award waiting for you at my blog!! Do you wanna come over & grab it? heheheeh

  13. Dear Shu Han!
    Greetings from Shizuoka, Japan!
    Thank you so much for commenting on my blog at http// !
    Interestingly enough these sprouting broccoli are "second growth" broccoli after the main central flowers have been cut out.
    Generally farmers do not pick them as they are too much bother.
    But recently here in Japan Restaurants have been requesting them, so we see them more at restaurants than supermarkets!
    Looking forward to visiting again!
    Best regards,

  14. We have six purple sprouting broc plants in the garden that are being savaged by insects - but I also have masses of broccoli in the fridge AND a bag of red lentils - now I know what to have for dinner tonight!

  15. I don't think i've ever seen this kind of broccoli before but I'll have to hit up the farmer's market for it. Sounds like a tasty healthy delicious meal!

  16. I love lentils and the combination of the yellow with the green/purple is really appetising.

  17. Hello! Thought to drop by and say hi! I am your new reader! Look forward to seeing more of your delicious recipe!

  18. I love the first appearance of PSB after the endless winter root veg - it is such a lovely sign that spring is on its way. It looks so pretty with the dahl.

  19. Broccoli is my all time favourite veggie - this looks really delicious - yum!

  20. Lovely recipe! You have a wonderful blog...all your clicks are amazing!

    Would be delighted if you could contribute some of your fab recipes to my ongoing event :) Happy Cooking!

    Chef Al dente On going event: Gimme GREEN!

  21. love the combination of colors you have in the dish! purple broccoli is something we seldom get here, but i would love to try it!

  22. emma: thanks emma!

    sissi: it's only my third year here in the uk, everythign I know I learn from being at the market (:

    charles: regular green stuff will be less pretty. haha.

    kit: thanks, i'm honoured!

    robert-giles:hello hello! ooh that's an interesting fact! i'm glad demand for it means that farmers are now picking them (: they're too beautiful to waste.

    the kitchen maid: yay!

    joanne: hmm it's true, I don't see it in supermarkets, good excuse to hit the farmer's market ;)

    corina: thank you !

    gria: welcome and thank you! hope to see you more!

    suzanne: that's why I get so excited seeing it too, the temperature's too fickle to be reliable in judging the coming of spring!

    ruth: thanks!

    rosh: sounds like a lovely event, I'd love to(:

    janine: hope you manage to get hold of some, they're really just gorgeous!