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Put the lentils into a large pan with the bay leaves, spices, and whole onion. Add the water and bring to a boil. Then, simmer, partly covered, until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the salt, to taste, in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Drain thoroughly and discard the bay leaves and onion. Heat the cream or olive oil, stir the garlic in, and pour over the lentils, turning to coat them well. Stir in the herbs, and serve.
This recipe was provided by Jill Norman from England.