I make this with brown lentils which take slightly longer to cook than the smaller pink or yellow ones but keep their shape better. It is excellent hot or cold. I like it served at room temperature on a bed of lettuce. Good for picnics and other outdoor events.
Brown lentils are widely available in US supermarkets. They are packaged in 1 pound bags and generally cost under $1 per bag.
Brown lentils do not need to be soaked; they take 30-45 min to cook, depending on their age (older lentils are drier and need more time to absorb the liquid).
One cup uncooked lentils should serve 3-4 people. For liquid, figure on twice the amount as the uncooked lentils.
Use a pot with a heavy bottom
. You want to be able to keep the lentils at a gentle simmer during cooking.
1 cup uncooked brown lentils
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 large yellow onion - diced
some garlic cloves - minced
1 large green pepper - diced
curry powder (to taste - curry powders vary widely in taste and heat so I can't give hard quantities - maybe start with 2-3 tsp per cup uncooked lentils?)
oil for sauteeing
Optional Other Ingredients
a few dried bay leaves
1 small jalapeno pepper - seeded and minced (I don't know how hot your curry powder is but this is a way to add extra heat)
a few minced, sun-dried tomatoes (just another layer of flavor - if they're dry, you don't have to reconstitute them first)
minced fresh parsley (I like it for the color contrast)
If you don't have stock on hand, use water and boullion cubes, or mix some soy sauce into the water to make a broth. Since the liquid contains salt, you should not need extra salt.
> dice the onion; seed and dice the green pepper; mince the garlic cloves and (if using) seed and mince the jalapeno pepper
> film pot with oil, add diced onion and saute on medium heat until soft and translucent
> add curry powder, minced garlic (and minced jalapeno, if using) to pot, give it a stir and sautee a minute or two
> stir in uncooked lentils and saute a minute or two more (you may add the diced green pepper at this point if you want the peppers to be very soft and disappear into the lentils; if you want the green pepper to be firmer, you will add it later. Or you can add some now and some later)
> add liquid (and, if using them, the bay leaves and sun dried tomatoes). Start with about twice as much liquid as uncooked lentils (so, if you're using 1 cup lentils, you would add 2 cups liquid. However, the amount of liquid the lentils will require does vary. I usually don't add all the liquid in the beginning and I have a little more than required in reserve.)
> give everything a stir, bring to a simmer
, cover and cook at a gentle simmer.
> after about 20 minutes, check the lentils. Taste the lentils.
If they are still fairly hard to the bite and there is very little liquid left, they may need a little more liquid (add about 1/4 cup liquid and check again in about 10 minutes). If you reserved the diced green pepper, stir it in now. (For a texture contrast, the idea is that the diced green pepper only cooks in the lentils for about 15 minutes.)
> cook until lentils are cooked through but still somewhat firm to the bite.
> when done, off heat, fish out the bay leaves (if you used them), stir in minced parsley (if using) and let sit for about 5 minutes, covered
Curried lentils can be made ahead and reheated (covered) in a low oven (or in a microwave).