Sunday, October 26, 2008

Curried Lentils, or being like Martha

It seems everyone is tightening up their spending these days - even Martha Stewart is preaching the gospel of frugality. I read an interview of Martha herself in last Sunday's Detroit Free Press. In the article, she described herself as a very frugal person - you know I never thought of her that way, but she really does espouse frugality. Long before it was fashionable, she was big into re purposing things, and making things yourself from scratch. I don't care if our president won't admit it, but we are most certainly in a recession and we should all be saving money. A great way to save money is by making food for your family yourself.

In the article, Martha has some words of wisdom for mothers and how we should all know how to cook. She said in the interview ".... I think mothers, especially, should know how to prepare variant, nutritious dishes for their families," she said. "I mean it's their obligation. Don't have a family if you don't know how to feed them." I agree - I think at least one adult in the family should know how to cook. It doesn't necessarily have to be Mom.

In the spirit of saving money, I'm including a recipe that's thrifty. I first had curried lentils in college, I think I may have made a recipe out of either Laurel's Kitchen or Jane Brody's Good Food Book. I had never tried lentils before, but I knew that I liked curry, since I had recently found I liked Indian food. My friend Ray said he loved them with Major Grey's chutney. I usually buy Patak's, but this winter when mangoes are in season, I might try my hand at preserving my own. The chutney, at over $3 for a small bottle, although you only need a spoonful per serving, is the most pricey ingredient. Otherwise, the recipe probably costs less than $1 to make, and it serves at least 8 people. This recipe isn't genuinely Indian, it is just what works out with things I normally have it my pantry.

Curried Lentils (aka Dal)

2 T. butter
1 1/2 cups sliced onions
2 cloves minced garlic
2 small red peppers, minced (pick the heat you like)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 lb. lentils
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons Garam Masala (I buy mine online from Penzeys)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
4 cans low sodium chicken broth

In a large pot, heat the butter and stir-fry the onions just until wilted, do not brown. Add the garlic, peppers, cumin, lentils, ginger, curry powder, salt, pepper, and sugar. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes, until the herbs and spices bloom (aromatic). Add the tomatoes and deglaze to pot with their juices. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning with cumin, salt, pepper and sugar.

Serve over hot rice with Major Grey's chutney, and sausage or ham for the carnivores.


Cathi Weasley said...

Thank you for saying "- I think at least one adult in the family should know how to cook. It doesn't necessarily have to be Mom."!!!

My husband is a FABULOUS chef. He enjoys it. I *can* cook but but don't like to...there is a big difference. You know like when you taste something and know it needs - whatever - well that's my hubby. His food is great...just don't tell him too much he tends to get a big head!! LOL

Alien Mama said...

I completely agree. Being frugal and recognizing value for money, is an important life skill to teach our kids. If we don't cook at home, kids will always think that it is something very difficult or rare.

TennZen said...

Ooh, now you have got me in the mood for some good curry! Lentils and curry should be a great combination.

I, too, never thought of Martha as a champion of frugality. So much for first impressions! I'm glad to hear that she's preaching the gospel, so to speak. Just like you are!

Veronica said...

Cooking together creates a family togetherness that eating out never can. I've never tried lentils before...I'll have to give them a try.

Sister Julie said...

Having just gone vegetarian full-time, I need all the recipe help I can get. I'm going to try this one out today. I love that it is veggie, tasty, and economically priced!