Spiced Lentil and Bean Stew

Inspired by the classic Ethiopian dish, and with my inclination towards indian spices came about this hearty and ‘warm your belly’ lentil stew. If you love earthy, warm spices, this will hit the right spot. Just the perfect bowl of dinner for the winter.

Ingredients
3 cups lentils (regular brown or puy)
2 cans dark red kidney beans (pre-cooked)
1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
1 large onion, finely chopped (yellow or white)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2″ piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp butter
2 large tomatoes, chopped ( for plum tomatoes, use 4)
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 cups vegetable stock (you can substitute with water)
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 sprig, fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice

For the Spice mixture:
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 tsp cardamom (i use whole ones)
4 cloves
1/2 stick cinnamon
2 tbsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Method
In a dry skillet, add all the above spice mixture  ingredients. Toast over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Keep tossing making sure the spices don’t burn. Powder these ingredients in a blender along with the chopped ginger with no liquid. It has to be a dry powder. Frying whole spices and freshly grinding them adds immense flavor to the stew. If you don’t have access to fresh whole spices, as a substitute, you could use the pre-powdered version of all the above spices and just mix them together in a bowl.

In a large pot, add 6 cups of water along with the lentils and bay leaf. Boil the lentils for about 45 minutes. Around the 30 minute mark, check to see the doneness and adjust amount of water and cooking time accordingly. The lentils after 45 minutes, should be cooked but not mushy. It should be firm and al dente since it is going to cook a bit more while putting together the stew.

Drain the lentils, also drain the can of kidney beans and set aside.

In a large pot, add the butter and vegetable oil. Once the butter is golden brown, add the onions and garlic. Sauteé for 10 minutes until the onions soften.

Add the ground spice mixture and cook for 7-8 more minutes making sure the spice powder is mixed evenly.

Add the chopped tomatoes and salt , cook 5 more minutes.

Add tomato paste, mix well and then add the vegetable stock.

Simmer over medium heat for 25-30 minutes.

Now add the cooked lentils and beans, simmer 20 more minutes.

Check for salt, top with the chopped cilantro, mint, lemon juice and turn off the heat.

I prefer this stew just on it’s own with a little extra squeeze of lemon, but you could also serve it with your favorite bread.

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