Lentils are a grain legume - referred to as a pulse -- often used in stews and soups for their beneficially high amounts of protein and fiber. There are several varieties of lentils, which are characterized by color, and each color offers a slightly different flavor. Trini-style cooking, or Trinidad-inspired cooking is centered around spices and flavors that are germane to the Caribbean. Combining these elements results in a tasty but hearty recipe for Trini style lentils.
Pour the lentils onto a flat, clean surface and remove any debris or broken beans.
Place the lentils in a bowl and fill the bowl with enough cool water to cover them. Run your fingers lightly through the lentils to help dislodge dust or other particles. Skim any extra debris that floats to the top of the bowl. Soak the lentils for 30 minutes.
Peel and chop a medium-sized carrot and onion and two cloves of garlic into small pieces.
Pour off the water and rinse the lentils again with cool water. Transfer the lentils to a medium pot with the garlic and add 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock, chicken stock or water.
Cook the lentils for approximately 30 minutes on medium heat, stirring them periodically to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Add the carrot and onion.
Cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the lentils and additional ingredients are tender.
Add 1 tbsp. of coconut milk powder or 1 to 2 tbsp. of coconut milk to create a thickened broth.
Remove the lentils from the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add 1 cup of ham chopped into 1-inch cubes to add more depth to the lentils.
Avoid adding salt too early in the cooking process because it can cause the lentils to become tough.