Les Lentilles (yes, you guessed it – this dish is awfully very French)

Really, really good for wintry weather
Really, really good for wintry weather. Even if you only live in Cape Town.

Even though I don’t speak a word of the language (that’s not true, I know ‘les’) and I’ve only been to France once in my life for five minutes, I just know, deep down, that I’m French. Sometimes I’m also Italian, but mainly I’m more French. I get them, those people, with their fabulous dishes of cream and bone marrow and not caring when their husbands have affairs. Well, that part I don’t really get, but the rest I totally do.

My amazing friend Paul who owns Nomu came up with this recipe using fancy puy lentils and fish, but since I wouldn’t know a puy lentil if it had a tantrum on my head, I just use those brown ones you buy at Pick ‘n Pay. And because there wasn’t any fresh fish in my fridge that day or ever, I also substituted that for chorizo because I saw that someone once used that in another lentil dish. But the rest is totally, completely sort of Paul’s recipe.

When I make this dish it’s almost like I become Edith Piaf singing about having no regrets. You kind of want to put on a boa and swan about with a cigarette holder and say things that shock your children. But then you remember you’re actually just a mom cooking Thursday night supper, so you have to settle down and be content with a glass of red. And anyway, once I cooked in a boa and the feathers got in everything. This dish is easy, seriously tasty and quite stylish, actually. You wouldn’t be amiss serving it to guests with a nice ciabatta and a bottle of something dusky. Here’s how to access your inner grande dame:


Brown lentils (they might be called green, but they are most definitely brown)
An onion (the red ones are bit sweeter, I find)
A clove of garlic (okay, three)
A carrot
Vegetable stock
Dried or fresh tarragon and whatever other herbs you have bumming around. Oreganum and thyme work nicely.
A bay leaf or two


Chop your onion, garlic, carrots and celery as finely as you can be bothered and fry them in a bit of olive oil. When the onion goes see-through, add your chopped chorizo and fry it up a bit. Add two cups of lentils, four cups of water, your veggie stock cube or powder, your bay leaf and your chopped up herbs. Put the lid on and let it simmer gently. Keep checking that you have enough water in your pot. If it gets too dry, add more. When the lentils are almost done (they should have a bit of a bite), take the lid off and let the rest of the water cook away. Season generously with salt and black pepper. Serve it in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil. SO very yum-ois.

14 thoughts on “Les Lentilles (yes, you guessed it – this dish is awfully very French)

  1. Now the brand-nerd in me have to mention that, these days (since about 5 years ago) you no longer need the little ‘apostrophe’ in the Pick n Pay name … when we rebranded it, we took that little thingy away ;-)


    Date: Tue, 13 Aug 2013 12:17:57 +0000 To: riaanmuller@hotmail.com

      1. Well, I am most awfully thrilled and honored to now know real live French people. Thanks so much for getting in touch, Franck! Hope you’re enjoying this lovely European summer. All the best! :-)

  2. “You kind of want to put on a boa and swan about with a cigarette holder and say things that shock your children. But then you remember you’re actually just a mom cooking Thursday night supper,”
    … FINISHED!!! Cooking will never be the same :)

  3. Lentils are the most underrated South African food source, which is a real tragedy. As a chef, I ensure my husband and 2 young girls eat lentils at least once a week, and they love it! It has become even more important now, as we moved from Gauteng to Strasbourg, France in July. Good old fashioned rump steak is just not available, and as I stupidly still convert rands to euro’s, the cost of meat makes my knives wither. We no longer splash out on 200g portions of protein!

    I see I am one of many new followers in the last week or so, and am going to join the party in saying I love your writing. I have almost cried a few times this morning, missing my home country, but knowing that we as a family have to do this for a little bit.

    I also love the style of your blog. Food is my first passion, writing has always been a favourite past time, although all of it taking the shape and form of HUNDREDS of letters written to friends and family during years of boarding school and living far away from the friends and family once I left school.
    I started my own blog in September, and in time, once we are truly settled, I hope that I can start writing with your clarity and make people TALK and laugh at ourselves.

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