Curried Red Lentil Soup

March 24, 2009 at 3:48 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, soup)

I have a recipe for Turkish red lentil soup that I like a lot, but today I was in the mood for something a bit different, and decided to try this curried red lentil soup recipe from Peter Berley’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.

  • 1.5 cups split red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 celery ribs with leaves, halved lengthwise and chopped
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter or light sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. mellow curry powder
  • 3/4 – 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • serve with chopped fresh cilantro and plain lowfat or whole milk yogurt
  1. Combine the red lentils, water, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a 4 to 5 quart pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and make the curry powder.  Combine the vegetables, butter, curry powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a skillet.  Saute over high heat for about 2 minutes until the vegetables start to brown.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. When the lentils are cooked, add the vegetables and their juices to the pot with the lentils.  Simmer the soup for 5 to 10 minutes, until the flavors have combined.
  4. Serve with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro in each bowl, and a big dollop of plain yogurt.

Berley’s recipe called for kombu but I didn’t have any so I just left it out.  He gives a recipe for mellow curry powder in his book, which is a bit odd in that it calls for caraway seeds.  It didn’t actually smell like curry powder to me, and the soup didn’t exactly taste curried.  However, the soup did taste good with the yogurt and cilantro.  It definitely needed the yogurt though–without it the soup tasted too plain.  Derek liked the soup as well.  He said he wouldn’t rave about it, but it was very good, despite the fact that he claims to “not be a soup person.”  He liked the big slices of carrot, said the texture and flavor was really nice.  Derek did add a bit more of the curry powder to make the soup stronger tasting, however.  Berley’s recipe for mellow curry powder makes about 1/3 cup, and I made 1/4 of it, which yielded a little more than a Tablespoon.  Next time I’d just go ahead and throw the whole thing in.  Also, I’d add the salt to the curry powder to help grind up the spices, rather than adding it directly to the vegetables.

Curry powder, modified slightly:

  • 1.5 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 3/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 slightly heaped tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • slightly heaped 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • large pinch of cayenne pepper

Rating: B+

Derek: B/B+

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Toffikomen

March 23, 2009 at 4:36 pm (A (4 stars, love), Dessert, Jewish, Other, Website / blog)

I’ve been trying out recipes for Passover this month, and came across Marcy Goldman’s “Trademark, Most Requested, Absolutely Magnificent Matzoh Caramel Crunch“.  Given the title, it was hard to resist.  It was pretty easy to make, and came out well, except that the caramel ended up quite shiny and hard–more like a toffee than a caramel.  Hence, Derek dubbed the dish “Toffikomen”, a play on toffee and afikomen. Read the rest of this entry »

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One fine burrito

March 23, 2009 at 4:18 pm (A (4 stars, love), frozen tofu, My brain, Tofu)

I threw together a burrito the other day with some frozen, marinated tofu that was leftover from the tofu I prepared for chili.  Derek loved the burrito so much that he insisted I blog about it, even though it wasn’t particularly original.

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 lbs tofu, frozen, thawed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Tbs. peanut butter
  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce (from a 14 ounce can)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 avocados, sliced or diced
  • 6-8? ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • about 1 cup smoky chipotle salsa or salsa verde from Frontera Grill
  • 6-8 leaves Romaine lettuce
  • 6-8 regular-size flour tortillas

For the tofu:

Preheat the oven to 350.  Add 1 Tbs. of oil to a cookie sheet. Mix together peanut butter, garlic powder, soy sauce, and tomato sauce. Work the marinade mixture thoroughly into the tofu crumbles, using your hands.  Pour the tofu onto the cookie sheet and cook for about 15 minutes per side, until crispy but still moist in the middle.

Makes 6-8 small (but filling) burritos.

Although the combination is not particularly novel or healthy, I agree with Derek that the burrito was certainly very tasty.

Derek Rating: A

Rating: A-

On a second attempt I cut the avocado into slices and sprinkled on top fresh minced garlic, salt, and lots of lime juice.  We ate it with a salsa verde, and the sour tomatillos and lime juice went great together.  Delicious.  I just need to record the amounts and make this a real recipe now!

Update May 15, 2010:  I made 2 pounds of tofu and it made about 7 small burritos.  I served them with 2 avocados that had been sliced, doused in lime juice, and sprinkled with salt and fresh garlic.  Two avocados was just about right for 6-7 burritos.  The main problem was the burritos looked really tiny.  So although they’re high calorie and quite filling, Derek thought I should have made two burritos for everyone.  I’ve got to figure out a way to make them look as large as they actually are!  We ate the burritos with Frontera Grill green salsa and lettuce.  They were yummy.  Some raw onions might have been a nice garnish.

I served everyone one burrito, a small side of roasted carrots, a bowl of Locro, and for dessert a small bowl of vanilla ice cream with salted caramel sauce.  I was very full by the end of dinner!  Derek, however, ate two burritos.

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Dosas

March 23, 2009 at 3:45 pm (Beans, Indian, unrated, Website / blog)

I’ve been told that to make authentic dosas requires a special, ultra-powerful blender.  Apparently a standard American blender just can’t grind the soaked rice and dal to a fine enough consistency.  That’s why I was excited when I found this recipe for dosas made with real dal but rice flour instead of soaked and blended rice.  No special blender needed, apparently.

The first time I tried the recipe I placed my stainless steel bowl full of dosa batter inside a cast iron pot, covered it loosely, and set the pot next to the radiator (which was on low). I also left the batter a bit longer than the 12 hours the recipe calls for–maybe 14 hours?  When I got up in the morning the dosa batter was *huge* and really frothy and poofy, plus it smelled really sour–some might say foul. Actually, the whole apartment smelled like the sour batter.  I was worried that it was full of bacteria, so I ended up tossing it. The second time I tried the recipe, I just left the bowl on the counter for 12 hours exactly.  The batter still had that strange smell that it had last time, but this time it was closer to “odd” smelling than “foul”.  It wasn’t all foamy and frothy, and so I decided it was fine.

For cooking the dosas, I tried Kittee’s trick of rubbing the skillet with a cut onion, and I was kind of able to spread my dosas with the back of the spoon, but the dosas ended up too thick.  Besides being too thick, they looked reasonably authentic.  The dosas tasted the same as the batter smelled–slightly tangy and strange.  It didn’t really bother me, but I wouldn’t say I liked the odd taste.  Derek didn’t care for them at all.  My friend Katrina said she thought they were  pretty good.  I’d like to figure out if the smell was coming from the fenugreek seed or the urad dal.  I’m going to make fenugreek tea to find out what it tastes like.

We tried cooking up the dosas and letting them sit overnight, then taking them for lunch the next day.  Although they seemed crisp at first when I bit into one I discovered that they were extremely tough (not crisp at all).  They weren’t really edible that day.  However, I left one dosa sitting out for about 3 days, and eventually it did get really crisp. The strange smell had faded completely and it tasted like some kind of chip.  I liked it.

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