Monday, December 20, 2010

Tamarind Lentils (+ Squash Rerun)

 Has anyone else noticed that as the weather has gotten colder, the blogosphere is more and more marked by ugly food?  It seems like soupy, sloppy comfort food is on the whole way less photogenic than pretty salads and fresh summer veggies.  My dinner the other night can provide some instructive examples:

I made the Tamarind Lentils in Veganomicon because the authors suggested that their crazy Rutabaga Puree might be complemented by it.  I'm not sure I agree, but both were good dishes on their own.  This lentil dish can best be described as chana masala meets sloppy joe.  Although the spices are very clearly in the Northern Indian palette, the sweet-and-sour, tomatoey character of the sauce struck me as similar to sloppy joes or baked beans, especially given the slightly meaty flavor of brown lentils.  I've mentioned too many times already my surprise at finding tamarind and pomegranate molasses working in similar ways, but once again, this dish (with tamarind) reminded me a lot of the Syrian Chickpeas and the Pomegranate Baked Beans (both with pomolasses).  Neat!

In making this recipe, I used brown rice syrup instead of maple syrup (cheaper), and reduced the tomato paste (the 2 TB it called for is quite a lot).  I also added everything at the beginning of cooking instead of waiting til the end to add the tamarind etc., which may have mellowed out the flavors a bit (though I'm skeptical), but also allowed me to clean up while everything was simmering.

I also remade this squash recipe (pictured above) from memory--no computer, no recipes... scary! and liberating.  This time I used no garlic, cumin, turmeric or red pepper.  I added kalonji onion seeds, and I cooked it at a very low temperature (the spices had burned the other time I made it).  

Tamarind Lentils
(adapted from Veganomicon)

3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-in piece ginger, minced
1 onion, diced
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 c lentils, rinsed
2 c vegetable broth
2 tsp tamarind paste
1 TB brown rice syrup
1 TB tomato paste
salt to taste (depending on your veg broth)

1. In a large pot or skillet with a lid, heat oil over medium heat; cook garlic, ginger, and onion several minutes.  Add spices and cook another minute or so. In a pyrex, combine broth, tamarind paste, syrup, and tomato paste.
2. Add lentils and broth mixture; bring to a boil, then partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer until lentils are cooked (30-40 min?).  Add salt if needed.  Serves 4-5.

1 comment:

janet said...

I think it is the tartness/sourness of tamarind that reminds you of pomegranate molasses.

Tamarind lentils are one of my favourite recipes from Veganomicon and I made them recently, too. Even if they are not that photogenic. :)