Comfort Food For When It Gets Cold and Dark

Warm up with this comfort food inspiration from Ann-Kristin Afflerbach! In this article, she gets our ideas flowing on what kinds of comforting meals to make during the winter months and includes a recipe for us to try out at home.

With the end of November fast approaching, the festive season is upon us. But that also means the days are dark and cold and we find ourselves longing for food that thoroughly warms us. We want to be cozy, maybe gather with friends to get into the festive mood or just enjoy some food to make us happy.

Comfort food during the wintertime is often soup, casserole, or sweet baked treats. This makes perfect sense – what could warm you better than a hot bowl of soup or some hearty stew? The recipes tend to use herbs and spices for a rich flavor and ingredients that make most of our hearts happy, like cheese, potatoes, beef, or chocolate in desserts. 

Traditional winter comfort recipes are tomato soup, beef stew, mac’n’cheese, chili con carne, and Shepherd’s pie. Desserts like baked apples, plum crumbles, or chocolate cakes are especially well-loved in the winter season. Hot drinks like apple cider, hot chocolate, or mulled wine are not to be forgotten either! As much as I love these traditional recipes, they often require quite some preparation or long time on the stove. When I come home in the dark and cold after a long day at university or work, I do not always have the time to cook something that takes longer than half an hour to make, but I still want to feel cozy and well-warmed. For all of you who feel the same or just want to try something new, here is my favorite quick recipe for a cold winter night’s dinner. It has everything you look for in a comfort food: a lot of warmth and plenty of flavour. 

Photographer: Ann-Kristin Afflerbach.

Photographer: Ann-Kristin Afflerbach.


Serves 4


  • 250 g basmati rice

  • 100 g red split lentils

  • 2 shallots

  • 2-4 cloves of garlic

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 4 cloves

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • 1 tsp ground coriander

  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • butter

  • 600 mL vegetable broth


  1. Wash rice and lentils in cold water a few times, then leave in cold water for 20 minutes. 

  2. Heat butter in a pot, then add cumin seeds, cinnamon, and cloves and fry until fragrant. 

  3. Add shallots, fry for 5 minutes or until golden, then add garlic. 

  4. When the garlic is golden, add turmeric. Stir well. 

  5. Pour off water from lentils and rice, then add the mix to the pot. 

  6. Add vegetable broth and let simmer until all liquid is absorbed. If you feel like the rice or lentils are not quite done at that point, add some more broth and wait until absorbed.

I like to serve mine with some yogurt, chopped nuts, and fried onions on top. Make sure to not bite on the cloves, as they have a very strong flavour and you will not enjoy the rest of the meal (speaking from experience).

Basmati rice brings a nice flavor to this recipe, but other kinds of rice would work just as fine. Red split lentils are very fine and delicate, which is perfect for this recipe, but other lentils work as well, you might just need to adjust the cooking time for them to be soft.

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