Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recipe for Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew (Paula's Moroccan Lentil Stew)

Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea StewI'm a huge fan of all kinds of beans and legumes but two of my favorites are lentils and chickpeas, so when I got this recipe by e-mail from a reader named Paula B., from the second I read the recipe, there was never any doubt I was going to make it. Not only did it sound like a perfect combination of flavors, but I'd just gotten a big bag of red lentils from Whole Foods, so it seemed like an omen when the recipe arrived. Paula called the dish Moroccan Lentil Stew, though I'm not sure if it's really Moroccan, but it's aromatic and spicy with a blend of interesting ingredients that come together perfectly. Paula said she eats it with a dollop of sour cream (again, probably not Moroccan, but highly recommend it!) I ate mine over brown rice, and this was one of the best easy dinners I'd had for a long time.

If you're thinking of using brown lentils for this, please try to find the red lentils. Not only are they beautiful, but they're much softer than other lentils and dissolve to make a perfectly thickened stew. Lentils are a versatile ingredient, high in protein and fiber and low in fat. They also cook quickly and don't need to be soaked. This vegetarian stew with red lentils is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Yasmeen from Healthnut.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot, then gently saute the onions, garlic, ginger, and ground turmeric for about 7 minutes.

Then add chopped celery, garam masala, ground cardamom, cayenne pepper, and ground cumin and cook 3-4 minutes more, or until spices become very aromatic and celery is just starting to soften.

These are the beautiful red lentils that dissolve into the stock and become the base of this stew. They turn more of a yellowish color when they're cooked.

Add chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can chickpeas, and the red lentils, and let the stew start to simmer.

Once it starts to bubble, reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover pan, and cook 45-60 minutes (or even a bit longer, depending on how fully dissolved you'd like the lentils to be.) I wanted to keep some texture, but cooked mine for about 60 minutes so the lentils were about half-dissolved.

Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew (Paula's Moroccan Lentil Stew)
(Makes at least 6-8 servings, depending on whether it's served alone or with brown rice. Recipe adapted very slightly from one sent to me by a reader named Paula B; Paula doesn't remember where she got it but everyone she has shared the recipe with has loved it!)

Ingredients:
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 T olive oil (or perhaps a little more, depending on your pan)
1-2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger (original recipe said 1 tsp, but I used 2 tsp.)
1 T finely minced garlic
1 tsp. ground turmeric
3/4 cup celery, finely diced
1 tsp. Garam Masala
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4-1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (I only used 1/4 tsp. because I'm a wimp for hot foods)
1 tsp. ground cumin (original recipe said 1/2 tsp., but I love cumin)
6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock (I used 4 cups chicken and 2 cups beef stock, because that's what I had. You could also use canned broth)
1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed until no more foam appears
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (I used petite dice, do not drain tomatoes)
cooked brown rice for serving (optional)
sour cream or plain yogurt for serving (optional)

Instructions:
Heat olive oil in a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add onions, ginger, garlic, and turmeric and gently saute, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, or until onions are quite soft but not browned. Add diced celery, garam masala, ground cardamom, cayenne pepper, and ground cumin and saute 3-4 minutes more, until celery barely starts to soften.

Add the stock, red lentils, canned tomatoes, and rinsed chickpeas and bring mixture to a gentle boil. When it starts to bubble, reduce heat to the barest simmer and cover pan with lid. Let mixture simmer, stirring a few times, until lentils are dissolved enough that mixture has thickened into a chunky stew. (The shorter time you cook it, the more chunky it will be. I cooked mine at the barest simmer for about 60 minutes.)

Serve hot, over brown rice and topped with sour cream or plain yogurt if desired. Paula said this is even better after it's been in the fridge, and I'd have to agree that like many stews, the flavors were even better the next day.

This freezes very well, so I'd recommend making the whole batch, even if you're only cooking for a small number of people. However, it's so good it might not make it into the freezer.

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South Beach Suggestions:
If you ate this plain (without rice) this dish would be approved for any phase of the South Beach Diet, even with the sour cream or plain yogurt. I ate mine over brown rice, which would make it phase 2 or 3 for South Beach.

More Tasty Ideas for Red Lentils:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Bengali Red Dal Curry from Jake from Kalyn's Kitchen
Curried Rice and Red Lentils from Kalyn's Kitchen
Red Lentil Soup from 101 Cookbooks
Spicy Red Lentil and Tomato Soup from Andea Meyers
Spicy Rustic Red Lentil Soup with Thick Thick Yogurt from A Life (time) of Cooking
Red Lentil Soup from Nami Nami
Greek Red Lentil Salad from Tea and Cookies
Red Lentil and Rice Patties with Cilantro Sauce from Albion Cooks
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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45 comments:

  1. Middle Eastern cuisine is definitely one of my favorites and this looks so inviting for a cozy night in. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Kalyn!

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  2. I just love red lentils, they are my favorite lentil because they cook so fast, are good protein and store well.

    They are also delicious with spices so I bet this is great.

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  3. Oooh this sounds so good Kalyn, my girls may not agree, however all the more for me! hehe

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  4. Oh This looks awesome! I love the spice combination

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  5. This has all of the spices that I adore - garam masala, cardamom, turmeric. I'm really looking forward to trying this.

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  6. I love red lentils and I've been on an Indian food kick lately, so this looks great...I've had a hard time finding cardamom for some reason- going to make sure I find some tomorrow so I can make this!

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  7. I loooove the flavors in this. great yellow color.

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  8. hi
    Kalyn
    great recipe.
    It sounds like a Indian recipe to me all the Ingredients are Indian , the procedure too is Indian except for the celery ... we make something called "chole" with chickpeas without the lentils and they come out really tasty, you can have it with roti or rice.. I am going to make our chole with lentils now will let you know.
    we add lots of chopped coriander at the end for garnishing and flavour.

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  9. MMMMMMMMMMMM,...what a marvellous stew this is!!

    I made a smilar dish before too: Swiss Chard, red lentils & chickpea soup!

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  10. I love the way that red lentils seem to dissolve into whatever liquid you are cooking them in, giving a dish a thick and hearty texture. The spices in this look amazing. A must try.

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  11. Kasey, really loved it!

    Katerina, now I'm inspired to use the red lentils more often (plus I have a lot left!)

    Bron, probably not that kid-friendly but delicious.

    Zesty Cook, me too! It was pefect.

    Dara, hope you do try it, I think you'll like it!

    Winnie, I used the very last of my cardamom for this; need to get more.

    Bren, thanks. I love the yellow color that these spices add.

    Maheek, I was kind of thinking that too, although the step of sauteeing the second addition of spices wasn't in the original recipe. Anyway, whatever the origin of the recipe, it was a keeper!

    Sophie I have some chard left in my garden, so now I'm inspired to try that!

    Joanne, that's exactly what I thought when I first saw the recipe!

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  12. I've been craving something warm, rich and spicy. This stew looks the the perfect dish for this chilly, rainy weekend.

    Thanks Kalyn.

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  13. Such a gorgeous dish, Kalyn. Red lentils certainly are undervalued. And thanks for the link! *Big smile*
    xx

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  14. Such a hearty stew with all of my favorite ingredients.Thanks for sharing,Kalyn :)

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  15. We love cardamom, cumin, chickpeas, and lentils! YUM! Do you think this would work in a crockpot? It looks to me like it just might. :)

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  16. CJ, it will indeed be perfect for bad weather days!

    S&R, me too! I can't wait to make something else with them.

    Vegeyum, so welcome! Thanks to you for all the RT and tweets too.

    Yasmeen, you're welcome. Lots of people's favorite ingredients it seems.

    ~M, I do indeed think it would work in a crockpot, but I hate to say that in the recipe if I haven't tried it. I'd reduce the stock down to about 4 cups or so and cook on low about 6 hours, but that's just a guess. If you try it, would love to hear how you adapted the recipe and how it turned out.

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  17. This looks delicious! I love lentil dishes but never cook them as often as I should - and, like most of them, I bet this one tastes even better the next day. I've never used garam masala but finally bought some recently - this will be the perfect way to try it. Great ideas in the comments - using cilantro and Swiss chard (my greenhouse is full of it!). Thanks Kalyn and Paula! :)

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  18. My vegetarian son will love this. I'm sending it to him now. He's always looking for something a little different. It's also great that it's gluten free, well depending on which stock you pick. Sad so many have gluten in them. Great recipe!

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  19. Susan thanks! I'm the same way about lentils, need to cook them once a week. It would be good for the budget and body both!

    Diane, I thought about labeling the recipe "gluten-free" but that's why I didn't. I agree, why does stock need gluten?

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  20. PaulaB's lentils are so good! She had posted this on a south beach site and I made it a couple weeks ago. Makes a fantastic lunch! I dollop mine with plain yogurt rather than sour cream.

    Thanks for posting it!

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  21. This is seriously my favorite kind of food these days. I am rocking this recipe ASAP! Great pantry staple-based dish too!

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  22. CJ, thanks to you! Paula tells me you are the one who told her about my blog, so without you I wouldn't have ever gotten this recipe from her!

    Donna, I agree! How great to find such a tasty dish that you make with things that are easy to always have on hand.

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  23. That is one tasty looking chickpea stew!

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  24. Although I didn't have the garam masala it came out so very good! This is a keeper. Thanks for sharing this. I will be posting this on my blog. Love your recipes!

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  25. Made this last night, as I had all the ingredients on hand. It was great, and I'm looking forward to the leftovers tonight.

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  26. So glad everyone is liking this; all credit goes to Paula! I just ate some of the leftover yesterday myself (from the freezer, so it does freeze well!)

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  27. Looks delicious. When would you recommend adding the chickpeas if using dried chickpeas (instead of a can)?

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  28. Erica, I think the dried chickpeas would need to be precooked in water or stock before they were used in this recipe. A pressure cooker would work wonderfully for that, if you have one, but if not, just boil them until they're fairly soft, and then use the same as canned in this recipe.

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  29. This was DELICIOUS!! Thank you! I am looking fwd to trying the leftovers tomorrow!

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  30. Yosha, thanks, so glad you liked it. (It's even better the next day.) Paula picked a winner with this recipe for sure!

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  31. sounds great! do you think it would work to add quinoa directly into the stew instead of serving over rice? if so, you would probably have to add more broth, right?

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  32. Sarah personally I would cook the quinoa separately. This is a pretty thick stew, and I'm not sure how it would work. People like different things though, so try it if you think it sounds good. (Let us know how it works if you try it, and yes I think you'd definitely need more liquid.)

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  33. This was very yummy! I actually made it in the crock pot and wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it was perfect! More soup than stew...I added the full amount of liquid because I always worry that the food in my crock pot will dry out and my house will burn down. :) Great flavor!

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  34. Sarah, this could definitely be good as a soup too if there was more liquid. Good to know that the crockpot version was also a hit!

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  35. While I'm not a vegetarian, I do try to skip meat as often as possible. This Moroccan stew looks like it would be a satisfying, not to mention delicious, main course. And I do love it when recipes use what Americans normally think of as sweet spices, like cinnamon or cardamom, in savory dishes. Thanks.

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  36. Nicole I made this not long ago for a dinner party, and it was a huge hit!

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  37. Thanks, that was an amazing recipe and so easy to make!

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  38. Isn't it just so good! All credit goes to Paula (thanks again Paula!)

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  39. you are all welcome! I'm happy to share and so glad it is a keeper in your recipe collections

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  40. Thanks for the great recipe! It was delicious and fun to make. My girlfriend loves all kinds of Eastern cuisine, and this was a great surprise. Thanks again

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  41. Hi Kalyn! I love your recipes and tried this one, but had a very soupy mixture at the end. I continued to let it cook down without the lid, but it didn't seem to cook down the way your's did in the picture. Any suggestions?

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  42. Did you cook for 60 minutes like I did? If so, the only way to reduce is to use a little higher heat and cook longer.

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