Thursday, February 9, 2012

Curried Red Lentils

This can be made with more stock, so that it's a soup or stew. Or, it can be made with less stock, so that it's more like a sturdy side dish. I made this somewhere in the middle, so that it was thick, but served it in a soup bowl. Good enough for seconds, and by request, it's finally here!


Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced mild or sweet onion
1 tsp - 2 Tbs chili powder (depending on taste) or use:
   2 tsp fresh grated ginger
   1 tsp minced garlic
   1/2 tsp ground mustard
   1 tsp ground cumin
   1 tsp ground coriander
   1 tsp turmeric
   up to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1/4 cup diced green chili
1 cup lentils (any color, but I like the red ones)
3-6 cups water or stock
1 cup diced ham (optional)
1/2 cup orange juice
up to 1 tsp salt
up to 1 tsp ground pepper
4 tsp Greek yogurt
4 tsp chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot. Cook onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. If the pot gets too dry and the onion begins to stick, add some of the water or stock to the pan. Add the spices to the pot, giving a stir or two to brown the spices, bringing out more of their flavors. If using curry powder, add just a small amount. You can taste and add more when the lentils are almost done. If using spices, add only a small amount of red pepper flakes. You'll also taste and adjust the seasoning when almost done. It's always easier to add more heat, but difficult to take it away! Add carrots, peppers, and lentils along with 3 cups of the water or stock. Add the ham, if using. Cook until the lentils are soft, stirring every 10 minutes or so, for about 45 minutes to one hour. Add more stock if the lentils seem too thick or are beginning to stick, or if you'd like a soup like consistency. Add the orange juice and correct the seasoning. You'll need to add some salt if you omit the ham and use water instead of stock. However, with both salt and a seasoned stock, you might not need to add any salt at all. To serve, ladle a portion into a soup bowl or onto a plate. Top with a teaspoon of Greek yogurt, some chopped cilantro, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.

Serves 4

Stealthy Cooking Tip: I made this dish with ham, because my family will eat anything with some ham in it and call it good, even going back for seconds. The trick is to use just a little ham, so that the flavors mix throughout the dish. However, I've made this without meat and still find it very tasty. I've also added other vegetables - celery, small diced potatoes, or cauliflower. This dish also holds well for leftovers, and it thickens when left in the refrigerator overnight. I like my leftover lentils stuffed into a pita pocket, topped with Greek yogurt, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Finally, if you like fun names, call this dahl!

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