Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Indian Black Lentil Stew Spiked with Bacon and Kale

Black lentils are my new found obsession. Sometimes called Beluga lentils (as a result of their likeness to caviar) they are tender, hearty, good for you, gorgeous on the plate and super easy too cook making them front and center in my kitchen as of late. Lentils are one of those things you can throw into soups and stews to add body and a ton of nutrients. Toss with salad or just season and eat all on their own. And they glisten when they cook so they look dynamite on the plate. I’m in love.

Last night I had a hankering for something warm and cozy but feeling a bit guilty for a touch of weekend overindulgence, I wanted a dish that would satisfy my taste without adding to my guilt. Enter my “Indian Lentil Stew with Bacon and Kale.” To be honest, I kind of made this one up on the fly so I’ve done my very best guesstimating with regards to the ingredients but feel free to taste and play with it to your liking.

The inspiration for this dish comes from a popular North Indian dish, Kaali Daal, also known as Ma Ki Daal (mom's lentils) since it is wholesome and delicious! Another popular name for it is Daal Makkhani. Serve over quinoa, with Naan, chicken or anything your heart desires. And I’m sorry to say I have no photos for this one. It was so freaking good I got overly excited and totally spaced on the camera. Next time!

Indian Lentil Stew with Bacon and Kale
A Girl and Her Kitchen

2 cups black beluga lentils
4 cups of water
1 bay leaf
1 1inch piece of fresh ginger
1 16oz can of diced tomatoes (fire roasted variety preferred)
1/4 - 1/2 c milk (to taste)
2 tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp coriander
1 tsp garam masala (Indian spice mixture, found in your local grocery store)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 shallots, small dice
1 small jalepano, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 strips of bacon (smokey variety), chopped (optional but highly recommended)
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil

In a sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. Add the lentils, bay leaf and ginger, reduce to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender (about 30 minutes. You want them to have some bite but not your liking.)

While the lentils are cooking, in a wide but high edge pan, cook the bacon until golden, remove with a slotted spoon. Sautee the kale in the remaining bacon fat on medium heat until wilted (5-10 minutes). Set aside.

In the same pan (do not wipe out the pan, leftover bacon fat is gooood), melt the butter and olive in the leftover kale/bacon grease. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeño and sauté until the onion is softened (about 3 minutes).

Add the cumin, coriander and garam masala and sauté until fragrant (about 3-4 minutes). Add in the can of tomatoes and milk and stir to combine. Let simmer for 2 minutes.

Once the lentils are cooked, discard the bay leaf and ginger. Add the lentils and some of their cooking liquid (not more than half a cup) to the tomato mixture and stir to combine. Simmer for 3-5 minutes depending on how thick you want your stew. Once you reach the desired thickness, add the kale and bacon back in and stir to combine. Serve over quinoa, with chicken or grab and spoon and a bowl and go to town!