Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Spicy Lentil Lamb Dal With Vegetables

I cheat. It’s true, I admit it. I try to eat a “healthy diet” but every so often, I get sidetracked. There are times I just have to eat chocolate. I can’t explain it. When I get the urge I dive into the secret stash that I conveniently buy for my husband. He likes it, so I kindly buy it (for him) and I hide it (from me) in the cupboard… as if that works! Do you ever have days when you get an irresistible desire to eat some dark, luscious and yummy chocolate?

Sometimes you have to eat chocolate! 

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I carry an abundance of guilt on my shoulders about eating chocolate and all other things unhealthy. The guilt started 30 years ago when I was told to change my diet for health reasons. You see, I inherited a type of gene that causes sky-high levels of cholesterol, which apparently is not good. So, when I start chowing down on the secret supply I become overwhelmed with a blanket of remorse. It’s a pretty good deterrent and it’s why my husband’s secret stash never totally disappears. Lucky I have that guilt thing.

When I was told to change my diet I slowly started cooking more vegetarian meals (before vegetarian was even a thing). I remember one day I decided my whole family should enjoy a vegetarian dish with me. This was a bold counter-culture proposition back then.

I was reading Frances Moore LappĆ©’s book, A Diet For A Small Planet, and picked one of her soybean recipes. I was excited! I soaked and boiled the soybeans, and made a bland, and very boring stew for that night’s dinner.

What can I say? It was the 80’s and cooking with herbs and spices was not the norm. So I used just salt and pepper. The family sat in polite silence, the awkward kind you feel after someone says something embarrassing. They valiantly tried to eat my “Food For Hippies” which, needless to say, was not a big hit.

I continued to cook vegetarian meals and eventually spices from around the world found their way into my everyday cooking. Vegetarian meals became interesting, tasty and appetizing.

Fast forward to 2019, and vegetarianism is now the norm. There are a variety of reasons for this: health, budget concerns, the taste, animal husbandry issues, and for saving the planet (raising cattle is a large contributor to green-house gases).

This Spicy Lentil Lamb Dal with Vegetables is a not-quite-a-vegetarian-dish. To make it a vegetarian meal, just leave out the meat. I found the recipe on the Food and Wine website… and no, it does not include chocolate.

Spicy Lentil Lamb Dal With Veggies
Spicy Lentil Lamb Dal With Veggies

Spicy Lentil Lamb Dal With Vegetables

by Fine Cooking

This is a delicious meal loaded with flavour and veggies.  It can easily be turned into a vegetarian dish by leaving out the lamb.

Serves 6

1-pound boneless leg of lamb cut into 1-inch cubes
5 teaspoons garam masala or curry powder (divided)
2 teaspoons salt (divided)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled, chopped fine, (from a 2-inch piece)
1 jalapeno pepper, stems removed, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (divided)
1-1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1-1/2 cups red or green lentils, rinsed well
1/2 small head of cauliflower, cut into 1-1/2 -inch pieces (about 3 cups)
6 cups of water
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2-1/2 cups)
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 8 oz. each), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (1-1/4 cups)
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, mix the lamb with 2 teaspoons of the garam masala, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  In a food processor, pulse together the onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeƱo pepper until finely chopped but not too mushy.  Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a 6-quart pot over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds.  When the seeds begin to pop, about 1 minute, stir in the remaining 3 teaspoons garam masala, the onion mixture, lentils, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, turmeric, 6 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to simmer.

Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat and brown the lamb in batches, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to the pot of dal.  Deglaze the skillet by adding 1/2 cup of water.  Turn up the heat, let it reduce by half, while stirring, and add this liquid to the dal.  Simmer until the vegetables and meat are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.  Season to taste with pepper and stir in the cilantro.  

Lentil Curry Soup
Lentil Curry Soup

Looking for another lentil recipe to try?  Check out our Lentil Curry Soup recipe.

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