I have this memory from childhood of walking with my father as a plane flew directly over us, and getting this prickly sensation, a restless feeling that I needed to be someplace else.
I get this feeling every so often; the sound of a car passing at night invokes yearnings of traveling under the dark sky.
I read an article recently where the writer expounded on this condition, until then, I didn’t really understand this feeling – I couldn’t recognize that this restlessness I feel sometimes, is the desire to travel.
A little while after that incident with the plane, we set off on an adventure of our own, the yellow house in the wild that I’d grown up in gone, like it was never there.
We spent our last day with my mom’s cousin; and that night we had okra soup with red palm oil, teaming with fresh vegetables, meat, dried fish, crab and flavour.
My uncle called it a ‘feast’, “Eat up!” He said, “who knows when you’ll have banku and okro like this again”.
Okra gives me that wanderlust feeling, it’s subtle but it’s there – it reminds me of that day, the excited anticipation of travel and the possibilities.
And this is why I can’t seem to resist okra at the supermarket, when I find them on those rare occasions.
My okra usually gets a modest treatment; roasted or sauteed with other vegetables with a bit of olive oil and spices – it’s easy
This lentils with roasted okra and carrots was inspired by a delightful lentils and okra curry I tried a while back; it was tangy and earthy.
Roasting the okra cuts down on the gooeyness, caramelizes and develops a mellow savoury tang.
The lentils add a rich texture and flavour, the carrots balances it out with its sweet crunchiness and the peppers, onions and spices rounds it up nicely.
Served with a side of coconut rice, it’s perfection! It’s wonderful with a simple salad too.
I have a few chuckles while eating it for dinner… I pick up okra for some silly sentiment and end up with a meal I actually enjoy.
Lentils with Roasted Okra and Carrots
- 1 pound okra
- 3 – 4 medium carrots
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 jalapeno peppers
- 2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence (or 1/4 teaspoon each of dried rosemary, thyme, oregano, savory and fennel seeds)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup slow roasted tomatoes (or a handful of sundried tomatoes)
- 2 – 3 cups of cooked black lentils (how to cook lentils on the Kitchn)
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Chopped mint, for garnish
- Prep and cut okra and carrots into 1/2 inch rounds
- Prep and cut the onions and peppers into even bite size chunks
- Combine the okra and the rest of the vegetables in a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil
- Add the crushed garlic, Herbes de Provence, pepper flakes, and salt, mix well to coat
- Spread out in a single layer onto a foil lined baking pan.
- Roast in an oven at 400 degrees f. for 15 – 25 minutes, until vegetables are tender and caramelized.
- When vegetables are done, sprinkle the slow roasted tomatoes on top
- Add the lentils, check for seasoning and add freshly ground pepper to taste, mix and garnish with chopped mint
- Serve warm with a side of coconut rice, or mesclun greens with a light vinaigrette