November 15, 2013 by jenniebean10
I’m alive! I made it back from Madrid and am enjoying my last few days in Spain back in Valencia. Before I tell you about Madrid, though, I wanted to catch you up on some of the things I did earlier this month, besides make silly faces with Luna…
Last weekend, I got back from Alcoy (and 2 consecutive days of hiking there) and then went on a 14km hike organized by couchsurfers to Peña Cortada, an ancient Roman aqueduct. There were hella CSers at the event, and I met some really friendly and awesome new people. The CS community in Valencia is really amazing and welcoming! It’s going to be hard to leave.
There were some beautiful views on the hike, and the trail was quite nice, despite some questionable places…
I got to do a little climbing, too! Sadly, I don’t have a picture of the rock I climbed, but I went up to the top and took a picture of everyone down below. Alex snapped a picture of me up there, but you can’t really appreciate how high up I went.
Halfway through, we stopped at a bar in the town of Chelva for a break, and then completed our loop back to the cars. I thought I was going to be tired and worthless the next day, but I ended up walking around la Ciutat Vella (the old city) with a friend.
Of course, we had to get some horchata and fartons, because that’s something unique to Valencia. I probably mentioned this the last time I came to Valencia, but their horchata is very different from Mexican horchata. This is not a rice milk drink, but rather made from chufas (also known as tiger nuts). It’s sweet, but has a completely different flavor. I can’t even describe it!
We then went biking around Ruzafa (that neighborhood I talked about in a previous post) so we could see it during daylight. This turned out to be an excellent plan, because there are many ethnic grocery stores in this neighborhood, and I was FINALLY able to find red lentils and more reasonably priced coconut milk to make one of my favorite soups. The recipe is at the bottom of this post! Additionally, I found some good Indian spices, as well as soba noodles.
Since we started our excursion a little late in the afternoon, most things were closed (lots of businesses and other places are closed between 2-5pm for siesta). European history is so different compared to American history. The first time I was in Paris, an Irish guy scoffed at my use of the term “historic” to describe Gettysburg. (Snob!) But I can understand – when you’re walking around a city that used to be walled and was founded in 137 BC, American history kinda pales in comparison.
The next day, I ran some errands and checked out some sites on my own, like the Mercat Central and La Llotja (Lonja) de Seda, the silk exchange. La Llotja was built between 1482 and 1548, and the main part of the building, the trading hall, took only 15 years to build. It was pretty impressive. The entire structure has some beautiful architecture and stained glass windows. It’s famous for its spiral staircase, which is empty in the center and supported only from the sides. You can’t go up it, but you can get a little peek from this gated area!
And now for the soup recipe. It’s one of my favorites because I love coconut, but after a few days this soup’s flavor is AMAZING. There are raisins in it, and when they soak in the broth overnight, they plump up. By the 2nd or 3rd day, they look like grapes again. It’s quite funny.
Coconut Red Lentil Soup
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
serves at least 6
prep time 10 min, cook time 35 min, best when left overnight in the fridge
1 c / 7 oz / 200g brown lentils (I recommend the yellow split peas in the original recipe)
1 c / 7 oz / 200g red split lentils (masoor dal)
7 c / 1.6 liters water
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 T fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 T curry powder
2 T butter or ghee
8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1/3 c / 1.5 oz / 45g raisins
1/3 c / 80 ml tomato paste
14 oz (1 can) coconut milk
2 t fine grain sea salt
one small handful cilantro, chopped
Rinse the lentils until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.
In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful not to burn the curry powder; just toast it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.
Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency.
You can eat the soup as is, or serve it over brown rice for a heartier meal. It’s delicious!