Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lental Stew Indian Style

The cold weather has me thinking about stews.

One of the many things I like about stews is how easy they are to make and how convenient they can be for people who work hard all week and don't feel like cooking when they get home. Making a stew is usually easily accomplished in 20 minutes of preparation time and maybe an hour to an hour and a half of cooking time.

Stews are always made in quantity providing you with many meals. I for one don't mind eating some thing more than once in a week, especially if it's tasty. One of the things I love to do with this particular stew is eat it for lunch with salted butter toast!

Also it's easy to change this up as the week goes on, add a can of chickpeas (adjust the seasoning) or some arugula or spinach (about 1/2 pound).

This is my basic template feel free to experiment keeping in mind that when you reheat it you may need to add more liquid and salt. If you have home made vegetable stock you can use that, but I find it works just as well with water.

Lentil Stew

In a bowl soak 2 cups brown lentils in enough water to cover them. Let them soak while you start the stew. Drain them before adding to the stew.

In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat add about 1/3 cup of olive oil, heat for a minute and then add 3 medium to large white onions, cover the pot for 8-10 minutes until the onions are translucent but not browned, add 4 roughly chopped garlic cloves, stir and cook for another 2 minutes.

Then stir in 2 T grated fresh ginger, 2 seeded, stemmed and roughly chopped jalapeno peppers (or more if you like or less or none) 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds and cook for 3-5 minutes.

The add the dry spices: 1 T plus 2 teaspoons of cumin powder, 1 T garam masala (Indian curry powder), 2 teaspoons coriander powder, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric. Stir until incorporated - about a minute.

Add 4 cups of either roughly chopped fresh or canned tomatoes (about 4 medium sized tomatoes if using fresh) and the drained lentils to the stew along with 4 cups of water, 1 T of salt and freshly grated black pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add 2 potatoes (any kind is fine, but I prefer red skinned with the skin still on) cut into bite size pieces and 2 carrots sliced into 1/2" coins - approximately a cup. Cook another 20 -30 minutes, adjust the seasoning and taste to make sure the potatoes an carrots are cooked to your liking. In this instance I actually like them fairly soft, but it's up to you.

Stir in a bunch (about 1 cup) of well washed fresh cilantro stalk and leaves roughly copped serve with your favorite chutney and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a side of Naan or other tasty bread.

If you want something more straight forward and simple just use salt and pepper, get ride of all the spices and hot peppers and instead of cilantro use parsley. And finally if you want a more intense tomato flavor add a can of tomato paste when you add the chopped tomatoes.

Makes enough to satisfy and warm up 12 of your friends and family!

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