Monday, February 6, 2012
Meatless Mondays: Buttery Black Lentils
Today's recipe uses the flavors of Indian cuisine to liven up lentils. It is not, however, a curry; it relies on ginger, garlic, butter, a bit of chili powder, and some garam masala for flavor, and is overall mildly spiced. The meal is ready to serve in about 30 minutes. It serves 4; we eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Garam masala is a spice blend used in some Indian cuisine. Like curry powder, there are many different versions. For this recipe, I prefer a sweeter, more delicate version, like one that uses a lot of coriander. You can certainly blend your own garam masala (try googling for recipes).
I used black beluga lentils here, which cook faster than most other varieties of lentils. They are also fairly high in protein. If you can't find beluga lentils, you could use French/De Puy lentils, or regular green or brown lentils, but the cooking time for the lentils will be 10-15 minutes longer.
Lentils don't require pre-soaking, so they are a good idea for a weeknight meal. To prepare them, you want to sort through the lentils, looking for any small rocks (which will be about the size and shape of the lentils), and remove the rocks. Then, place the lentils in a fine mesh strainer, and rinse until the water runs clear. When cooking the lentils, you don't want to add any salt, or anything acidic, until the beans are done cooking, to avoid making them tough.
I'm deeming this recipe vegetarian, but vegan-possible: to make it vegan, substitute either your favorite butter substitute (like Earth Balance) or extra virgin olive oil for the butter. That's it!
Buttery Black Lentils
While the lentils cook, cook some brown rice or quinoa to serve the lentils over. Grate the ginger and garlic on a microplane grater to create a fine paste.
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup black beluga lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 cups water
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger, divided
3 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2-1 tsp pure chili powder - either hot, like cayenne, or mild, like ancho - to taste
1-6 oz can tomato paste
2 tbsp butter
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup light coconut milk, plus a bit more to serve
1 tsp garam masala
Chopped cilantro, to serve
Cooked rice or quinoa, to serve
1. Bring the water to a boil in a pan. Add the lentils, half of the ginger, and the garlic, and simmer, covered, over low to medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but still firm.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat, and add the onion and remaining ginger. Sautee until the onion begins to take on some color, 5 to 10 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.
3. When the lentils are done cooking, stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, and salt. Heat to a simmer, then stir in the butter mixture, garam masala, and coconut milk.Taste, and adjust salt and chili powder to your liking.
4. Serve over hot rice or quinoa, drizzled with a little more coconut milk, and topped with chopped cilantro.
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