Tuesday 3 February 2015

February Beginnings: Warming Lentil and Potato Curry

February 1st was the day I intended to write, photograph and upload my first post since the beginning of the year. I planned to write a post about the New Year but the beginning of February seems more appropriate. As a kid, Winter’s snows were welcome but the long, dark days inside in a classroom or on front of the tv were not. I craved being outside, planting seeds, trekking through a forest or watching sunsets by the lake near my house. When I first learnt about St. Brigid, it was as though something was awakened in my mind and my heart. Here was this supposedly religious figure but trekking out into the marshy grounds to harvest soft, foam filled reeds and transform them into delicately woven crosses to bless a house and welcome Spring through your door equally transformed her. She was no longer some boring saint in my mind; she was a beautiful, truly Celtic feminine figure whose earthly hands were guiding us from the harsh cold darkness of winter into the green, renewed energy of Spring. I no longer pictured an old haggard saintly woman but an earthly, thriving maternal figure exuding freshness and vitality. When I grew up, I wanted to be her.

January is usually associated with new beginnings and I would always push myself towards that goal of fixing, doing, learning, tidying. Now I realize that January is the last grasp of bitter cold and is meant to be spent resting, contemplating, thinking, and the calmer of the endless list of actions we could be setting ourselves. This year, I intended to spend January getting ready so that when February came, I would be in a settled environment. I hadn’t intended to move house so soon, it just happened. Now that I’m here (I moved in at the weekend), I have a renewed sense of purpose coupled with a deep thankfulness for the place I’m in.

A new kitchen, a different bedroom, my own bathroom and most importantly a garden, are all here. Yesterday, the first day of Spring, I pottered around my new house, looking at the light and where it reaches in the house. I made a delicious and warming lunch and then walked, Forrest Gump style, as far as my legs would take me to the coast road and beyond. I didn’t bring a watch or a phone, only enough money for a hot chocolate on the way back and my camera.

You may have noticed that when I’m happy, I cook a lot and take plenty of photographs. When I’m distracted and confused, I don’t. The inspiration for this blog came from dedicating myself to those things, people, places and activities that make my heart soar. St. Brigid’s day brought it all back. In the hype and chaos of moving house and organizing all that that entails for January, yesterday was my time to regain those loves. I felt like a child listening to birds, watching the variety of light and shade, looking out for ripples along the sand after the outgoing tide, hunting down the sunset, bounding through the sand dunes, being snap happy.

I intended to make a dish that was green and supercharged but in the end, without realizing it, I cooked up something earthier. Baby potatoes, brown lentils and filling poached eggs combine in this dish with earthy warm cumin and turmeric to warm the toes and remind me that this day was just the beginning. The beginning of simpler eating with tasty, fresh, vibrant ingredients for this Spring to come. Sitting on my couch in my new sitting room, warm plate of food on my lap and candles burning in the distance, I couldn't help but look back and be thankfully aware of what a difference a year makes. This time last year, I was in New Zealand, jet-lagged but happy with the sunshine, surf, barefooted and blissed out. This year, my toes are cold and I miss those black sand days but I’m thankful for the experience and excited about what 2015 holds for me.  I’m proud of how far I’ve come from the lost lamb I was last year.

My mum, somehow, found a photo of a painting of St. Brigid, an artist’s impression of the saint and sent it to me yesterday. I felt like my mam and the artist were both mind readers. There she was: who I wanted to be when I grew up. Fresh-faced, feminine, full of vitality, dressed in green, covered in spirals and jewelry, she exuded birth, growth and renewing energy. She looked like a mother, a healer, a grower and a lover all in one and represented a profound and confident connection and insight into nature. These images of nature in the city, sunsets and warming plates of natural, real food are an offering to St. Brigid. Often I wonder when I will ever be pregnant with a loving man by my side, a house by the sea and the surf, a garden full of vegetables, a community around me, just like her. Then I realize that over the years I've created little pockets of that existence. This cottage in the city is the next step. It’s in the middle of the city but close to the sea with a small but beautiful garden, covered in wild garlic. My step this Spring is to mingle my food, photography and writing with my kitchen, garden and the sea around the corner. 2015 is the year to do it all and February is the perfect time. I've never been as excited or as proud.

Serves 2
6 baby potatoes (washed and cubed)
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ cup brown lentils (washed and drained)
1 organic veggie stock cube
1 red onion (sliced finely into half-moon shapes)
3 cloves garlic (diced finely or crushed)
1 tsp turmeric
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
A handful of fresh coriander (chopped roughly)
1 tbsp of oil (I used coconut) for frying

In a pot, add the potatoes, cumin seeds, lentils, stock cubes and some salt and pepper to 1 and ½ cups of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until potatoes and lentils and cooked through. Meanwhile, fry the onion and garlic in some oil in a frying pan on a low heat until softened.

Once the potatoes and lentils are cooked, add the entire mix to the onions in the frying pan and stir through, mixing in the turmeric. Stir and taste, adding extra and salt and pepper if needed. 

Crack two eggs directly onto the lentil potato mix. Put a glass lid over the eggs to allow them to poach in the steam and the liquid. Usually, 3 mins does the trick. You want them to be soft poached. Serve on a plate with a seasoning of salt and pepper and a good handful of fresh coriander. Enjoy!


  1. I'm going to make this tonight! Thank you! I also think that February is the time to celebrate the new year! Congratulations on your new house!

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