Lentil Lancashire Hotpot

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The autumn feeling is coming in Berlin and this calls for more hearty food. The last few weeks have been tough as we get into the new school year and the inevitable tiredness also means we look towards comforting food. Lancashire Hot Pot is a traditional English dish made with lamb but it is the crispy sliced potato topping that I really associate with the dish from my childhood. Here the filling is made of chana dhal which retains a little bite and is made rich and succulent with mushrooms, wine, tomatoes and lots of herbs. It can be a meal in itself or served with piles of green veg like cabbage, broccoli and kale. I also made a thick gravy to serve it with.

Ingredients 

Serves 4 as a main course

250g dried chana dhal

A large onion, finely chopped

A large carrot, finely chopped

10 medium mushrooms sliced

2 large, ripe tomatoes chopped

a tablespoon tomato puree

A clove of garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

Dried thyme and oregano

100ml red or rose wine

1 vegetable stock cube

100ml of water

3 large potatoes very thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until starting to soften but still having a firm bite. This will take about 30-40 minutes.  Meanwhile, sautee the onion, garlic, carrots and mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the drained, just cooked, lentils and all of the rest of the ingredients, except the remaining oil, and the potatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are properly cooked but not mushy. If you prefer, you could cook them softer. Season to taste and spoon the lentil mixture into the bottom of a wide shallow dish. By using a wide dish, you get a larger surface area to layer your potatoes and there is a better chance they will crisp up. Toss the potato slices in the remaining olive oil. Then layer them carefully over the top of the lentil mixture, overlapping the slightly. You can chose to have one or two layers deepening on how filling you want it to be. Season the potatoes. Place the dish into a medium oven for about 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and brown and crispy on top.

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