Tuesday, September 6, 2005

A dinner with Bob...well, sort of

On the bulletin board that I frequent, there is a very kind gentleman who goes by bob. A while back bob shared the most wonderful dish- a lentil and potato stew. Oh yum. And every time I make it, I wonder if I make it just like bob does, and I think kind thoughts about him. As it happens, today I was reminded that he is moving out of NYC to a country community, and I said a quick prayer that the move is a smooth transition for him. It's funny how food can bring people to mind that you don't normally think of. Maybe that's a way for God to tell us to pray for someone- I dunno, but it seems to be working for me.

Back to the stew. This is a lovely Indian dish- very simple, justa few ingredients, but oh so good. Seriously, this is lick the spoon AND the pot good. I like to top mine with a cucumber raita. A cucumber raita is sooo simple. Simply take a cucumber and grate it into some plain yogurt (or sour cream if you are out of yogurt). Raita is a great cooling complement to the heat of many Indaian dishes. I serve the stew over brown rice to complete the protein with the lentils. Finally, I add a touch of sweet. Normally, I saute a handful of almond slices and raisins in butter. Mmm. Truly, that is what makes this dish. Sad for me I found today that I was out of almonds, so I pulled a jar of Major Grey Mango Chutney out of the pantry to try. Blech. I can't say that I've ever had chutney before- but I definitely did not like this. I will try making my own chutney sometime before I pass judgement completely- but ew. After a few bites, I decided to scrape off the chutney and just add a handful of plain raisins. The raisins were good, but I missed the almonds. Thankfully, this recipe makes enough for 8 people, so I will have leftovers for myself for the week. Tomorrow I will pick up some almonds and finish the dish properly. Here is the recipe for anyone adventurous enough to try it- please do, it really is wonderful. And say a little prayer for my friend bob while you're at it. And Bless him for sharing it!

* Exported from MasterCook *
Recipe shared by bobmark
1 cup lentils
4 cups water
1 tsp salt (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large potatoes -- peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes (2 to 3)
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne or to taste
Salt to taste (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large tomatoes -- peeled and chopped, or 2 cups canned chopped tomatoes (I use crushed, and have even used sauce in a pinch)
2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp sugar or honey
Water -- if necessary

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, water, salt (if desired0 and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to med-low, and simmer the lentils until they are just soft, about 30 minutes.Do not drain the lentils! Discard the bay leaf, then set the lentils aside.
2. In a large dutch oven or saucepan with a nonstick surface, heat the butter or margarine and oil briefly, and add the potatoes. Sprinkle them with the turmeric, cayenne, salt (if desired), and pepper. Cook the potatoes, tossing them, over medium heat, for about five minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, the reserved lentils and their cooking liquid, the garam masala and the sugar or honey to the potatoes.
4. Cook the stew over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes (I go a bit longer until I reach a thickness I like), stirring the mixture from time to time and adding water if the stew seems to be too dry.
Serving suggestion: Serve with a cucumber raita or a mixed green salad and brown or white rice or an Indian rice with peas.
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NOTES : Notes: I almost serve this over brown rice with a dollop of either low fat sour cream (usually) or yogurt on top and as many different chutneys as I can find on the side! By all means use the three potatoes, really big ones, to stretch the dish. I also increase the spices on the potatoes because I like the play of the various flavors, turmeric for sweetness, cayenne for heat, and salt for...well...saltiness, which I think typify the best Indian dishes.
Brody also points out that you can make a reasonable facsimile of garam masala by combining equal amounts of cardamon, cumin, cinnamon, coriander with smaller amounts of ground cloves and black pepper.


Cate said...

This is one of my favorite stews - great tummy warming food.

Courtney said...

Major Grey Chutney? Baaaad Move.

Cucumber Raita? Score!

Your food sounds so yummy. Wish I was there to eat it.

Stop by my spice blog. You fit in. I would love some recipe ideas...