Sunday, June 27, 2010

Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew

Last week as I was floundering for something simple and light to make, I had decided on quinoa.  Instead, I was surprised to discovered that there was no quinoa hiding in my pantry.  I had three types of dried beans, four types of lentils, bulgur, three types of rice, two types of split peas, couscous, and pasta galore, but no quinoa.  I decided it was time to maybe start working on clearing out my pantry.  As an added challenge, while waiting for my grocery store to reopen, I decided to see how much I could make for dinner this week without buying anything from the store.  Of course, I got to the store to buy food for breakfast, milk, ingredients for a pie, and discovered it's summer and the Val-Mont's selection of cheap fruits and vegetables is amazing right now.  I caved and got some cheap red bell pepper to remake (I know that doesn't happen often, but this recipe is worth it!) the peanut curry noodles without the seafood and I bought some strawberries and raspberries that were too cheap and delicious looking to resist, but I held strong when I saw the fleur d'ail ... mainly because I wasn't 100% sure garlic flowers were the same as garlic scapes (they are!) and also because I couldn't remember the recipes that I had seen them in ... maybe next week.

I was torn between making this recipe first and a black lentil and split pea curry from 660 Curries.  Then, I ended up using my chickpeas as pie weights and decided that instead of trying to find a container to store them (there weren't many left), I should just start soaking them for this dish.  I skipped on the onion and celery for this dish, because I wasn't in a celery mood and when I went to chop my onions, they weren't looking too great, so I just substituted 1 tsp onion powder.  For some reason I don't have cardamon in my cupboard (much to my surprise!), so I substituted 1/2 tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg based on online suggestions.  I used beef stock because I was out of chicken and vegetable stock (and now I am out of beef!).  This makes a lot, so expect leftovers.

Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew (from Kalyn's Kitchen)

1 large onion, finely chopped (or 1 tsp onion powder)
1 Tbsp olive oil 

2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. Garam Masala
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (or 1/2 tsp each nutmeg and cinnamon)
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock 

1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed until no more foam appears (or dried, soaked and pre-cooked)
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (I used 19oz as that's what I had, do not drain tomatoes)
cooked rice for serving (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add onions, ginger, garlic, and turmeric and gently saute, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, or until onions are quite soft but not browned. 
2. Add garam masala, ground cardamom, cayenne pepper, and ground cumin and saute a couple minutes more.
3. Add the stock, red lentils, canned tomatoes, and rinsed chickpeas and bring mixture to a gentle boil.
4. When it starts to bubble, reduce heat to the barest simmer and cover pan with lid. Let mixture simmer, stirring a few times, until lentils are dissolved enough that mixture has thickened into a chunky stew. (The shorter time you cook it, the more chunky it will be. I cooked mine at the barest simmer for about 60 minutes.)
5. Serve hot, over rice and topped with sour cream or plain yogurt if desired.

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