Graciella's "Delicious Meal of Lentils, Herbed Rice, and Flatbread"

Warm, satisfying, nourishing, and economical...Graciella knows what she's doing in the kitchen.

I am inspired by food, love cooking and eating, and find the entire topic to be very sexy. You probably know this if you've read any of my novels and/or know me personally. So when my characters cook, you can be sure it's something I either make or want to make, and this meal was no exception.

The heroine of To Seduce An Assassin was raised by her older siblings on their family farm after their parents were killed, so she learned early on how to make do with the ingredients that were available. So when she finally gets her chance to go hang out with older sister/surrogate mom Jiandra at the palace in Darpan, she's more than happy to fill in for the missing cook and put her skills to work in their economically-strained kitchen.

If you've read the book, you may have noticed that my cultural inspiration for fantasy-world Nandala is Eastern, especially India. The names of people and towns are inspired by ancient Sanskrit, and the food sometimes has an eastern flair. So when thinking of an inexpensive, true-to-Nandala meal, I invented this one, and as soon as I typed in the phrase "a delicious meal of lentils, herbed rice, and flatbread," I thought to myself, I should totally make that.

I am avoiding white rice and white or wheat flour at the moment, so I created this version last Saturday using chickpea flour and quinoa instead. I am also really busy this fall and striving to simplify my cooking as much as possible, so I used a lot of dried spices and herbs in this to make it quicker to put together. Start to finish, I had all four of these recipes prepped and cooked in 45 minutes. If you weren't doing all four together and wanted to pick and choose, you could have the lentils in 25 minutes, the quinoa in 25, the cucumber salad in 5-10 minutes (depending upon how fast you can peel and dice a cucumber,) and the chickpea flatbread/pita in about 10-15 minutes.

The Lentils

1/2 cup dry lentils, sorted and rinsed (or use canned for a 5-minute recipe)
1 tsp dry cumin, to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 - 1 tsp sea salt, to taste

Cover the lentils with water, add the spices and salt, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium low and simmer 20-25 minutes.

The Herbed Quinoa

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1/2 TBS avocado oil or olive oil
1/4-1/2 tsp each garlic powder and onion powder
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
2 TBS dried herbs (I used parsley, chives, and a dash of tarragon)

Bring all ingredients to a boil, lower heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Let sit covered while everything else cooks.

Closest grain-free thing to pita bread I've ever eaten.

The Chickpea Flatbread

I highly recommend using a well-seasoned iron skillet (meaning, one you oil up after you wash & dry it on the stove.) Iron skillets make the perfect griddle for batter, plus by some strange magic they make everything taste better than regular skillets. Comment below if you use an iron skillet and you know what I mean. :-)

Slightly heaping 1/3 cup chickpea flour
1/4 tsp each garlic powder and onion powder
1 tsp dried Italian herbs (basil, oregano, etc.)
3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp baking powder
Scant 1/3 cup water

Start the iron skillet heating on slightly high medium heat (or about a tsp of oil in a regular skillet.) Mix the dry ingredients with a fork, then add the water. You want the batter to be thick, like pancake batter, so adjust the water accordingly as you go. Whisk the batter and pour it into the center of the skillet. If your consistency is right and your skillet is hot, it should pool into a round pita shape, about 1/4 inch thick and not run all the way to the sides of the skillet.

Cook for about 4-5 minutes, watching to see if it sets and dries out on top enough to flip it. Once it's set, flip to the other side and cook about another 3 minutes, lifting to see if it's brown before removing it from the skillet and enjoying it with your meal.

The Cucumber Salad

This is a bonus recipe Graciella didn't think of in the book. :-) It sets off the chickpea pita so perfectly, so please make it and follow each bite with a bite of the flatbread. Just do it, for me. :-)

2 cups diced cucumber
2-4 TBS diced onion, to taste
2 TBS lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried dill

Mix all ingredients and let sit to marinate. You might want to make this first, because the longer it sits the better it tastes.

Graciella's story TO SEDUCE AN ASSASSIN is the second book in the Omaja series, can totally be read as a standalone, and is available as an ebook or on Kindle Unlimited here. Why not download it to read while you enjoy your lunch? ;-)