in pursuit of more

living with just a little less

Spiced Lentils & Indian Chapatis

Welcome to Food Bloggers Against Hunger, a call to action for changes to our food system from over 200 participating food bloggers! Whenever the topic of child hunger comes up I can’t tell you the reaction that my body produces. Anger, sadness, more anger, and then an unrelenting feeling that something must be done. And not later, and not by someone else. But by me, right now, and with anyone around me with just one or two hands to lend.

It’s a topic that gets discussed often, as I spend much of my time planning, thinking, scheming on what more we can do to have truly lasting impact. Helping others isn’t always easy, but it can be done, and we all know there is so much more to do. America’s hunger problem is growing, and here at home in Canada the statistics are not much better. Our food systems and governments are so tightly intertwined that what affects one nation affects another nation and we are all in this together. Access and affordability to good healthy food is far from where it should be, and in my opinion, we’ve still got a lot of work to do to get folks back into the heart of the home: the kitchen.

Cooking Classes | Not So Fast

At Not So Fast, we’ve been cooking with kids in our poorest neighbourhood on a regular basis since last year, and sending them home with healthy affordable food & recipes they can make at home. It’s the least we can do and we plan to do more. A lot more. If you want to stay updated on our progress, follow me here or drop me a line. Our plan doesn’t stop there.

I’ve never shared this on the blog before today, but this is a matter dear to my heart for very good reason. As children, my siblings and I grew up with parents who fed us well and made healthy food a priority despite having extremely limited funds. My folks were impressively resourceful and took food seriously, and as a result I can (very) proudly say that looking back, I never felt poor a single day of my life, and I can boldly speak for my three other siblings as well when I say that.

Cooking Classes | Not So Fast

Our tummies were always full of good food, and that was all that mattered. My mom and dad may not have had money to buy us lots of things, but we never went without and not a meal passed without saying grace for our good fortune of having yet another delicious meal to enjoy together. We ate simply, and we ate well. We hadn’t much money, but my parents had the will and put their energies where it mattered. And it worked. Today and everyday, I make it my mission to share that love of healthy affordable food with my readers, and to take that a step further and share it with those who may not be as lucky as I was as a child. So while our food system requires change at every level to correct the problems an unacceptable too many families face everyday, I hope more folks will continue to share recipes that don’t require a full pay check to pay for at your local organic food store.

Coriander Spiced Lentils & Indian Chapatis | In Pursuit of More
Coriander Spiced Lentils & Indian Chapatis | In Pursuit of More
Today’s recipe is one I am very excited and proud to share with you, as this was literally our weekly fare as kids, and as it turns out, ridiculously cheap to buy, shockingly easy to prepare, and even more – just as delicious as I remember it as a girl.
Coriander Spiced Lentils & Indian Chapatis | In Pursuit of More
Coriander Spiced Lentils & Indian Chapatis | In Pursuit of More
Coriander Spiced Lentils:

(1.5) cups green or brown lentils
(3) cups water
(2-3) tbsp olive or vegetable oil
(2) tsp whole coriander seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle and set aside (or use ground coriander)
(1) tsp cumin seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle (or ground cumin)
(1/4) tsp black mustard seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle (optional)
(4-6) cloves fresh garlic, minced
(1) fresh lemon
(1) tsp salt, or to taste
Butter or ghee to finish (optional)

Start by combining the lentils and water in a medium pot with a lid and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to medium, and keep the lentils simmering with the lid just ajar until soft, adding more water as necessary to keep the lentils moist (but not runny). Add the ground coriander to the lentils as they cook. Once you put up the lentils and they are simmering, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the ground cumin, mustard seeds, and chopped garlic and cook, until fragrant for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add this mixture to the pot of cooking lentils & coriander as it is ready. The whole cooking process will be about 30-40 minutes and should produce cooked lentils that are a thick, ‘mashable’ consistency without needing draining.

When the lentils are cooked, add the juice of one lemon (or to taste) and season with salt and optional butter or ghee. Set aside until ready to serve. To reheat, simply add more water as necessary to attain the desired consistency and warm on the stove a few minutes until hot.

The Chapatis or Indian Flat Bread:

(1) cup whole wheat flour
(1) cup white all purpose flour
(1) tsp salt
(3/4-1) cup hot water from the tap
up to (1/4) cup olive or vegetable oil for cooking

This recipe is so unbelievably easy and fun to make I can’t believe it took me 20 years of living out of the house to make them. At literally pennies per wrap, this one recipe fed our family of six well for many many years. Use freshly ground flour if you can find it, it makes a world of difference. Start by mixing the two flours in a large bowl and adding the salt. With your hands as your mixers, add the pre-measured warm water with one hand while mixing in with your other hand until you get a sticky round ball of dough. Next, prepare a lightly floured surface and turn the dough out from the bowl. This is the fun part, and if you are looking for an arm workout, you are in the right place (now I know how my dad stayed so ripped all those years). Knead the dough roughly, using more flour as needed, for as long as you can muster, pounding it hard with your fists to release the gluten in the flour. The better job you do, the better the end result, keep in mind I am a brutal kneader and my chapatis still turned out great. Yours will too 🙂

Once you have sufficiently roughed up the dough (about 10 minutes if you make it that far), shape it into an oblong shape with your hands. Break off golf ball sized pieces of dough and roll them into round balls as best you can. With a rolling pin, roll them out as thinly as possible using the same floured work surface, doing your best to make circle-like shapes (this part will take a few tries). Personally, I like them like I like my pizza dough – beautifully irregular. Roll until they are all ready. Prepare the olive oil and a pastry brush and set beside the cooking station. To cook, heat a large flat frying pan on high until water sizzles on contact. Drop the rolled chapatis one at a time and cook as follows: heat on the first side for 20 seconds, then flip over and (very) lightly brush with olive oil, cook for about 30 seconds pushing down hard in the center with your spatula – you will see air pockets rising up in the dough as it cooks, a very good sign! Flip and press, adding a small amount of oil to the other side so they are both lightly oiled, and cook for a total of two minutes all in, until you have a spotted, puffed up flatbread that makes you proud!

Repeat until all are cooked. If serving right away, cover the chapatis with foil or a clean tea towel to keep warm. They can also be covered in foil and kept hot in the oven at 300 degrees or so until ready to eat. For leftovers, simply heat in the microwave, or my fave, warmed right over a gas heating element on the stove.

To serve, do as we did (or do as you like but this is so delicious). Grate some carrots, which are always available and are always cheap, and get some enzyme rich alfalfa sprouts – grow your own – or buy them at your local grocer. Make a delicious sauce, such as this easy cilantro sauce (a new one is coming soon), or your favourite hot sauce (like my dad did). Layer the hot spiced lentils over the warm chapatis, and top with grated carrots, sprouts, and sauce. Wrap up burrito style and enjoy. Maybe say grace either out loud or to yourself before you do too. After all, aren’t we are all so blessed to have good food on the table every day? Leftover chapatis can be used in all manner of ways: for quesadillas, wrapped up with butter and jam and cut into bite-sized pieces, or used as a pizza base layer for kids to enjoy.

Coriander Spiced Lentils & Indian Chapatis | In Pursuit of More
Coriander Spiced Lentils & Indian Chapatis | In Pursuit of More

49 responses to “Spiced Lentils & Indian Chapatis

    1. Thanks Gabby! My folks are pretty rad still too : ) Big hugs back as always (of course!). and thanks for your support! xo

  1. As usual, a wonderfully heartfelt post. Thank you so much for bringing Food Bloggers Against Hunger to our attention in one of your previous posts. I learned so much in researching and writing my own post for this fantastic event. It’s been such a rewarding experience and has left me feeling inspired to take action in my own community.

    1. Katie, that is so fantastic and I’m thrilled to see anyone become inspired to take action on this issue – it needs to happen more and this is such a perfect starting point. It’s beyond thinkable that we allow this to happen in our society. Love to have you here, thank you!

  2. Can’t believe how easy and delicious your chapatis sound. I’ve just made pitta, which turns out to be ridiculously easy too. Would you ever use bread flour for the chapatis?

    1. Hi Rachel! I am sure you could use any flour…it couldn’t hurt! Just so long as it has the gluten as I have been told that is the key here. I’d love to know if they turn out! They are so much fun to make..and eat too 🙂

  3. Shira, you are an inspiration in so many ways. Thank you for sharing your story and this nourishing, simple recipe and mostly for the work that you do to get help to those who are most vulnerable.

    1. Thank you Annie for always being there and for participating today! Love this community and your support & friendship means so much 🙂 xx

    1. Thank you Kristy! I’d love to hear if you make them – I had so much fun finally getting around to it 🙂 xx

  4. I love that you are teaching kids how to cook and giving them the recipes that they can recreate again! So glad to have found you from googling “food bloggers against hunger.” (I’m not a food blogger but I LIKE food) 🙂

  5. So glad you invited me to the event Shira. I almost didn’t pull my stuff together in time, but knew it was too important to miss out on. I love this recipe and I you know how much I care about your NSF initiative. Thanks girl! xx

  6. A warm and wonderful story and what a message! We CAN do a lot without very much, it’s all how we look at the situation. Love the ethos and your work and this wonderful recipe is a testament to your warm and giving spirit

  7. Shira, this was a beautiful, on point post. I wish more people approached their lives with a similar philosophy. I’m definitely making this recipe, it seems like the perfect thing to take for lunch!

  8. I’ve just heard about Food Bloggers Against Hunger and think I’ll sign up myself as I’m participating in a similar campaign called Live Below The Line
    This recipe looks amazing and you would never have guessed it is a very cheap recipe. I’ve recently started making my own breads and tortillas which were much easier than I thought. I tried to grind my own flour but it had a funny taste like it had gone off and I’ve heard that wheat grown in the UK doesn’t have a very high protein content so it’s not so good for homemade breads etc. so I’ve gone back to flour but it’s still much cheaper and healthier than buying bread.
    Many thanks!

  9. I am so inspired by the cooking classes you’re doing with children. I truly believe that they are the force of change in our food system, not to mention the fact that they are so in need of good nutrition mixed with love. I teach cooking classes and private chef, but have never thought of doing what you are–not anymore! Change at every level, indeed.

    1. Fantastic Lynne! There is still so much to be done, and the more people the better 🙂 Thank you for your support!

  10. Wow Shira, thanks for sharing. I grew up in a similar situation…youngest of 6 and a stay at home mom yet we ate well. My mom has always been concerned with our health and she always made us amazing food. We did not get many things or our educations paid for but I feel very lucky and proud to be the daughter of my hard working parents. I love that you are doing the cooking classes….that is such a great idea.

    1. Thanks for sharing Lilly Sue – it is amazing how far things can go with a little effort and planning…and most of all will! Your mom certainly did do an amazing job 🙂

  11. I love love love this cause – so amazing! Good for you for participating. And on the food side, there’s nothing I love more than Indian food and I have yet to be brave enough to try making my own chapatis – you might have just inspired me to try!

  12. Wow, this looks like a recipe that belongs in a restaurant! I might make it this weekend to impress some guest we have in town. I’m also really digging the impact you and your fellow food bloggers are making, I’ll have to look more into it.

    1. Thanks Tara! I sometimes wish I could get simple food like this in a restaurant (hehe). So happy to be a part of this special cause 🙂

  13. Beautiful post Shira. This is the type of meal we have grown up eating as a middle class family in India going through ups and downs with my Dad when he started his own industry. All the lentils beans, local fresh and cheap vegetables and chapatis. My mom is a pro at making them. I can make decent ones too 🙂 i make parathas more often though. they get filled up with other things and i have to make a few instead of a couple of chapatis per person:)

    1. Yummy Richa – I want to try parathas next! In fact, there are a number of your recipes on my list so it’s high time I branch out with my new found confidence 😉
      Thanks for reading, a pleasure to write and to share this one was. xx

  14. I love the chapatis idea – I’ve been using a very similar recipe for bannock, but had never tried rolling it hin for wraps. Next time I will. You’ve done a wonderful job with your cause so far – I admire you so much.

  15. The chapatis were amazing! I made them as a side to another lentil dish I made, but I really want to try these wraps that you have here. Really delicious!

  16. Just about to make some of these for lunch tomorrow – I picked up this recipe a year ago and its still going strong in Anxioushouse. I tend to skip the sproutythings but add some soft cheese instead; carbohydrates, protein, vegetable and calcium-rich dairy in one bundle!

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