08 February 2011

Stewed Lentils

During the week, I eat a lot of comfort food, and a lot of vegetarian dinners.  Tonights dinners fit both qualifications.  Especially when its cold out, I like warm filling dinners.  Its even better when those dinners can be good for me as well!  This is also an incredibly inexpensive dish.  Its $1 worth of lentils, a can of diced tomatoes, and half an onion.  The most expensive component is the spices used to finish the dish.  The original recipe includes a process of tempering oil with whole spices.  I find whole spices difficult to find, so I used the ground version.  If I made it again, I would cut down on the quantity of spices used here, since the ground version seems to be more potent (I noted this change in the recipe below).

The downside is that it isn't a very quick meal.  It takes just over an hour when all is said and done, but most of that is down time.  30 minutes of soaking and 35 minutes of cooking.

The original recipe calls for red lentils.  I couldn't find red lentils, so I picked up green lentils.  I don't know much about lentils, so it really makes no difference to me.  According to the fellow at the grocery store, green lentils are earthier and heartier.  That seemed perfect for me, since I am going for wintery comfort food.

I topped mine with a poached egg, for a little extra protein.  I'll probably skip the egg when I take the leftovers to work for lunch.  Next time, I think I'll hold out for the red lentils.  These just didn't get as soft as I was expecting.  The flavor is still good though.

Stewed Lentils
adapted from Aarti Sequeira
serves 2-3
3/4-cup lentils
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 T vegetable oil
1/4 t cumin seeds (or 1/8 t ground cumin)
1/4 t curry powder or turmeric
1/4 t paprika
1/4 t mustard seeds (or 1/8 t ground mustard)

Pick through the lentils for stones, then rinse in a colander.  Soak the lentils in cold water for 30 minutes.  Heat 1 T oil in a sauce pot, and add onion, pepper, and garlic.  Cook veggies until almost soft, then add lentils, tomatoes, and 1 1/4 cup water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 35-45 minutes, or until lentils are very soft.  Mash some of the lentils to release starch, then stir and season with salt and pepper.

For tempering oil, heat remaining 1 T oil in a cast iron skillet.  Combine spices in a small bowl.  When oil is very hot, add spices, let bloom for just a second, then pour over cooked lentils.

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