Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lentils with garam masala

I love lentils and I'm not sure why I don't make them more often. But once in a while I do make them. That once in a while is usually when I open the fridge and realize I have NOTHING to eat! But I always have some lentils in my cupboard (I'm partial to the black kind, but any kind will do) and that is ultimately the beauty of lentils. They're cheap, store well, are great for you and to make an entire meal all you really need is some (chicken) broth, onions, garlic and spices. And I usually have all/most of those on hand.

I'm going to be honest here, I made these lentils a while ago and don't remember exactly what I did. I know, I know, its a food blog so knowing how I actually created the food would be good. I've made black lentils a few times and every time I forget how I did it. Then I have to hunt around my books and the internet to try to figure it out again and make some kind of hybrid recipe. But every time they turn out great! So I'm going to give you a "recipe" of what I think I may have done. ;) Then at the end I'll include a Cooks Illustrated recipe for your viewing pleasure. Maybe the next time I make them I can update this for more precise measurements.

First, sautee onions (1 cup, finely chopped) in olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic (4 cloves minced) and garam masala (1 tsp).

Add 1 cup (rinsed) black lentils. Cook for a minute or so. (No, you do not need to soak lentils overnight. Beans yes, lentils no. You could... you just don't have to.)

Add chicken broth. Honestly I have no idea how much I added! I'm assuming ~2-3 cups.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Partially cover and cook at a simmer until the lentils have absorbed the liquid, around 20-40 minutes (can you tell I don't remember the details?!?). Here I added tofu. Why? Because I had some in the fridge!

If you've got some cream or yogurt, go ahead and add a little bit... or a lot bit. Just make sure you add it after you've turned off the heat (don't want the cream to break). It gives the lentils just the perfect touch of creamyness!

Final verdict: LOVE it. I especially like using garam masala with the black lentils. The spice isn't overpowering (you could add more if you like) but just enough to say to yourself "hmmm, what's that flavor??" I definitely need to experiment with more lentil recipes, they're so quick and easy. I just need a kitchen 5X the size with a walk-in pantry so I can have all the varieties on hand.

And as a bonus, here's another lentil recipe. I've actually never made it, but Cooks Illustrated rocks my world so I can basically guarantee it'll be delicious. hmmmmm, as I'm posting this I realize this may be a recipe to try out this week...


Indian-Spiced Red Lentils (from Cooks Illustrated)

2 TBSP veggie oil
1 onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBSP grated ginger
1 tsp garam masala
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup minced cilantro
3 medium plum tomoatoes cored, seeded and chopped

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1 tsp salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger and garam masala and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the water, lentils and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, partially cover and cook unti lthe lentils break down to form a thick puree, about 20-30 minutes. (You can refrigerate them at this point for later.) Immediately before serving, stir in the cilantro, season with salt & pepper, and sprinkle with tomatoes.


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