Vegetable Parcels with Coconut Braised Red Lentils

This is a wonderful dish to serve at a dinner party. Each stage can be made in advance and all you need to do when your guests arrive is pop it in the oven.

If you enjoy these lentils you could try adding extra coconut milk and serving them as a soup; whizzing a third in a blender would give it a bit more body.


50g tamarind pulp

130g red lentils

2 tablespoons olive oil or flaxseed oil

2 banana shallots, peeled and finely diced

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced

2cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

A small bunch of coriander (roots attached),

Finely chopped

2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped

1 x 400ml tin coconut milk or soy cream

Juice of ½ lime

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons chopped mint

20 Thai basil leaves, shredded (optional)

Salt and pepper


8 asparagus spears, woody ends removed

2 bok Choy, halved lengthways

8 baby corn

200g beansprouts

320g tofu, cut into 4 pieces

2 spring onions, finely sliced


Soak the tamarind in 150ml of hot water for 30 minutes. Place in a sieve over a bowl; and extract paste by rubbing soaked tamarinds through the sieve with the back of a spoon. Discard the skin and seeds and set the paste aside. Meanwhile put the lentils in a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil in a fine-holed colander rinse with cold water and leave to drain.

Preheat the oven to 18°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the shallots, chilli, ginger, garlic coriander roots and lemongrass and sauté over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the drained lentils, coconut milk, tamarind concentrate, lime juice and soy sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender: Leave to cool, then stir through the herbs and season with salt and pepper.

To make the vegetables, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the asparagus and cook for 1 minuets, then add the bok choy and sweetcorn and cook for a further minute. Add the beansprouts and cook for 30 seconds. Refresh immediately in cold water and drain.

To assemble, lay 4 squares (38cm) of parchment 📜 paper on a work surface. Divide a cooled lentils between the squares and top with the tofu and vegetables. Sprinkle with the spring onions. Bring the 4 corners of each square of paper together and secure with a paper strip. Place on a baking tray and cook for 20 minutes. Serve hot.