Sunday, December 2, 2012

Eggplant and Red Lentil Dal

A Pot of Red Lentils
simmers on the kitchen stove.
All afternoon dense kernels
surrender to the fertile
juices, their tender bellies
swelling with delight. 
~ Peter Pereira

There are few things more comforting and nutritious than a bowl of spicy lentils, but between schoolwork, my Vegan Mofo austerity theme, and the traditional podgy foods associated with Thanksgiving, it's been awhile since I made a nice, big cauldron of dal. I decided to correct this situation on a recent snowy afternoon, when a craving for red lentils coincided with the presence of a large and lovely eggplant in our vegetable bin; the rest, as they say, is history (or at least dinner). Alongside a pile of mashed sweet potatoes and some garlicky greens, this was a super healthy and satisfying meal that - best of all - made more than enough to feed off for a few days. (And as everyone knows, leftovers are always even better, because they're already cooked!)

Eggplant and Red Lentil Dal
~ 1 tbsp. canola oil
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tbsp. grated ginger
~ 2 carrots, diced
~ 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
~ 1 medium-large eggplant, diced
~ 1 cup diced, fresh tomato
~ 1-2 tbsp. good curry powder
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, cumin, garam masala
~ 1/2 tsp. each: cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper (more to taste)
~ Pinch of mace or nutmeg
~ 1.5 cup red lentils
~ 5-6 cups vegetable broth (depending on the thickness you want)
~ 1/2 lb. frozen, chopped spinach

~ In a large, deep pot, sauté the onion over medium heat for about two minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook about one minute more, until fragrant.
~ Add the carrots, bell pepper, and seasonings, and cook until just softened; about 5 minutes. You can add a splash of broth or water if things start to look dry or sticky.
~ Add the eggplant, tomato, and 1 cup of the broth. Stir to coat and cook for 5-7 minutes.
~ Add the lentils and remaining stock, raise the heat to high, cover, and bring to a boil.
~ Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour, until the lentils are smooth and the eggplant has broken down completely.
~ Stir in the frozen spinach and cook another minute or two, until it is bright green and just wilted. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little extra broth; if too thin, uncover the pot and cook a bit longer.
~ Allow the whole business to stand for about 10-15 minutes to let the flavors blend; return to heat and serve over basmati rice.

1 comment:

  1. I can attest that this is delicious both the first and second times around! I just defrosted a batch and it was wonderful. Thanks for sharing such a tasty recipe!