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Vadouvan Spiced White Asparagus with Crispy Lentils by Matthew Tomkinson

10th Apr 2018


Who better to present a great vegetarian dish than Head Chef Matthew Tomkinson from The Montagu Arms in Beaulieu, New Forest.

Matthew started his career in 1998 working at a vegetarian restaurant in Cheshire, before setting his sights on fine dining.  He then went on to win the prestigious Roux Scholarship in 2005 (at 29) during his four-year stint at Michelin-starred Ockenden Manor.

Here is a recipe to try at home, or we invite you to dine at The Terrace at The Montagu Arms. See sample menus. The Luxury Restaurant Club instant rewards apply here. Download free app here, see benefits and join club.

Vadouvan Spiced White Asparagus with Crispy Lentils, Fresh Coriander, Coconut and Cashew Cream (Vegetarian, gluten free and Vegan)  –  Serves 4


  • 16 Spears White Asparagus (cook for 1 minute in boiling, salted water, cool)
  • Picked fresh coriander or coriander cress
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Lemon

Vadouvan  –  Ingredients

  • 3 large shallots thinly sliced
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp fresh nutmeg
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 clove ground
  • 6 cardamom pods (seeds only no green)
  • Olive oil


  1. Sweat the shallot, onion and garlic gently in olive oil until golden in colour
  2. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 5 mins very gently
  3. Spread thinly on a tray and cool
  4. Dry overnight in the prover until hard
  5. Blend to a powder and store in an airtight container

Red Lentil Dhal  –  Ingredients

  • 125g red split lentils rinsed
  • 3 large shallots thinly sliced
  • 50g fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • 1 fresh chilli de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 large pinch toasted and ground cumin
  • 1 large pinch toasted and ground coriander seed
  • 300ml good veg stock
  • Water as required
  • Olive oil
  • Salt


  1. Sweat the shallot, garlic, chilli and ginger with a pinch of salt in the olive oil until soft
  2. Add the spices and cook gently for 2 minutes
  3. Add the lentils and stir to coat in the mixture
  4. Add the veg stock and bring to a gentle simmer
  5. Add 500ml of water and cook gently until it starts to break down stirring regularly
  6. Cook until thickened and season
  7. Cool

Cashew Cream  –  Ingredients

  • 125g cashew nuts soaked overnight
  • Half tin coconut milk
  • 1 pinch nutritional yeast
  • Half lemon (juice only)
  • Salt


  1. Rinse the soaked cashews and blend until very smooth with some water and salt
  2. Add the coconut milk as required to gain a smooth creamy texture
  3. Add the lemon juice and season
  4. Chill

Shallot Bhaaji  –  Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp rice flour
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 4 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp black onion seeds
  • Salt


  1. Mix everything together with a splash of water until it becomes a smooth paste
  2. Season well and deep fry in small balls until golden and crispy
  3. Drain and season with salt

Crispy Lentils  –  Ingredients

  • 50g puy lentils soaked overnight
  • 200ml veg oil (approx.)
  • Salt


  1. Rinse the soaked lentils and dry thoroughly
  2. Deep fry in 180c oil until golden and crispy
  3. Drain, season with salt and allow to cool

To Serve

In a hot pan sauté the asparagus in a little olive oil until beginning to brown, sprinkle over some of the vadouvan spice mix, season with salt and a small squeeze of lemon.

Warm the dhal and place in the centre of the 4 warmed plates, place a spoon of the cashew cream in the middle and top with 4 of the asparagus spears per portion.

Sprinkle over some of the crispy lentils, several small bhaaji and the fresh coriander and serve immediately.

Matthew Tomkinson

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