I don’t exactly remember the first time I had Indian Food, but it was not love at first sight. I remember going to an Indian Restaurant when I was in high school and thinking it was ok, but that I would rather be eating Chinese Food. Then years went by before I tried it again, and that’s when I fell head over heels. Everything I ate so was incredible, I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. I was hooked – all of those spices, and tender chunks of meat – delicious. I could go on and on…I was blown away.
A few years later, I met an Indian women at work – and we became good friends. One day she invited me over to her house for lunch – her house was very close to where we worked. I had no idea what to expect – but she served the most wonderful lentil dish that she had made the night before. While we were waiting for the Dahl to warm up, she took some dough out of the refrigerator. She took some, rolled it into a small ball, then started to roll it out with a rolling-pin. Very quickly, she flattened this ball into a perfect circle – just like a tortilla. She place it onto a hot fry pan and waited for it to puff up – home-made chapatis right before my eyes. We dipped the chapatis into the Dahl, with some chutney she placed on the table – and it was the most perfect lunch ever. I never wanted to leave.
My college roommate sent me this cookbook for my birthday – The Family Dinner by Laurie David – and as I was looking through it, this recipe caught my eye – it was the warm Indian spices that lured me. I then read the list of ingredients, and knew I had to make it. This is a delicious hearty stew that is perfect for a cold winter evening. The coconut milk was a wonderful addition, and made it slightly rich and deep in flavor. Ok, so I still haven’t been brave enough to make chapatis yet – but hopefully soon – they would have been perfect with this stew…
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon good quality garam masala
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 large potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 2 cups red lentils, rinsed
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or light coconut milk)
- 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
- salt and pepper to taste
In a soup pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until wilted and golden, then add the garlic, ginger, and spices and stir for a moment until they are fragrant. Be careful not to burn the spices, as this will make them bitter.
Take half of this mixture and set it aside for later. Add the carrots, potato, lentils, tomatoes, coconut milk, and stock. Let the stew simmer, without a lid, for about 30 to 40 minutes until the potatoes and lentils are tender.
Fold in the remaining onion-and-spice mixture. Add the peas to the stew last to keep their brilliant color. Simmer for another few minutes until the stew is heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
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